Symphony of The Night in 3D? (E3 2012)
Playing Darksiders II, there was only one thing I could think: "this is what a full 3D Castlevania: Symphony of the Night would be like." THQ's title, coming in August, is well-polished, fluid, and it has all-around solid gameplay.
Death is the protagonist of Darksiders II, traveling through an ice-covered land looking for war, the star of the original Darksiders (I assure you these are the good guys). What felt like regular action / adventure fodder turned into something that pulled me in and made me want to continue past what I was allowed to play during the E3 demo.
Death starts out on a horse, but not just any horse. We're talking about Pestilence. He's one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse after all. Horse-bound controls are pretty basic, but this section ended abruptly as I reached a ledge that a horse couldn't climb. It was after this when I got my first taste of on-foot combat and maneuverability. Death is able to roll and dodge with a feel reminiscent of the first Ninja Gaiden. Animations canceled into each other instantaneously, allowing me to avoid the huge weapons the enemies were wielding; this was done without me ever blocking.
Darksiders II uses a two-weapon system for combat, and while it took me a while to find a weapon dropped from an enemy that I could use in the secondary slot, when I did, the system felt even deeper and had me salivating thinking about all the weapons that will be available to be combined this way in the full game. Each weapon has its own individual set of combos, but using the same fluidity of the dodging system, you can switch weapons mid-combo, making combat look cool, with more options available at any given moment. Overall, it's just fun to play.
Speaking of weapons and items, the item system in Darksiders II is what sets it apart the most. Since items are dropped pretty often, the game pulls you in much like Borderlands does, but with a hell of a lot more combat options. Items add defense, attack power, and enhance character stats in many ways. In addition, certain items require Death to be a certain level before they can be equipped, and all items that you equip affect the character's look.
While Darksiders II is fun and its potential to be great is seen in the first few minutes of gameplay, there are a few things that could be improved before release. Combat situations felt a bit too simplistic, with every encounter feeling the exact same: it focuses on what the character could do and not what the enemies could do. It felt like every encounter had three enemies that tried to surround me, and the bosses in the demo basically used area of effect attacks in places that were closed off. The game kept telling me to smash items and look for health potions in the debris, but there were none to be found. Also, when navigating structures in the environment, Death wouldn't go where you wanted him to sometimes, ending with him flying off of a ledge or a pole. The game doesn't penalize you for dying too much though, respawning Death near the ledge from which he fell off with only a small amount of health lost.
With its fluid combat, huge environments to explore, and gameplay that slowly expands, Darksiders II will be a title to get you through the slow summer release season when it launches mid-August for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, with a Wii U release to follow before the holidays.
Akil is a big fan of video games and music, specifically fighting games and R&B. Other interests include game design, and comedy. His background in game design combined with his unique worldview and sense of humor makes him someone to follow.
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