January 23, 2010

Darksiders . . . Is it more than a God of War clone?

Erik Kubik asks, is Darksiders more than a God of War clone? It’s a tough question all gamers had to ask themselves. Is Darksiders enough of a game to distance itself from games like GOW? Yes?!

Darksiders is an interesting game. Originally, the protagonist and dealer of death, “War” was going to be a kid with a robotic arm who could bounce off walls. Instead, War was shaped into a bad-ass Horseman of the Apocalypse who is sent to earth to kick some demon butt with the help of some awe- inspiring weapons. That is about as deep as the story gets in the first hour or so. The rest of the game is spent trolling through dungeons, collecting items, upgrading the weapons, and executing blood splattering, skull-splitting combos on a variety of enemies.

Darksiders is a good game, but there are a few things that push it away from greatness. The crawling through and backtracking in dungeons gets old fast. Much like the Zelda games, players start at one end and travel to the other end, only to find they must backtrack through a Boss or two to reach the real exit. And just like Zelda, there are instances in the game where walls must be destroyed by explosives.

The camera, which is a raised third party view, works well. Gamers can aim and move the camera, although sometimes it gets pretty crazy with multiple enemies. There is really no way to zoom out and track/center everyone, which can make moving and dodging attacks with War stressful.

The Boss fights consist of two styles: super-easy or rip-out-your-hair-and-smash-your-game-console-with-a-large-brick hard. This creates a nice variety, but it makes the pace of the game a drag. Gamers spend 10 minutes on a boss fight and within the next 30 minutes, they find a 35-minute boss fight. That does not count the number of times War dies trying to defeat the boss.

Although this hybrid Zelda-GOW game has its shortcomings, the game is still loads of fun. Darksiders has several well-executed parts. The combo system is deep, and the weapons are fun. Let’s go through the list: giant sword capable of gutting demons like pigs; ninja star/boomerang, which is designed to keep enemies at bay while War saws off their limbs; and an oversized Gauntlet capable of crushing undead skull. Those are just a few of the many weapons War has the privilege of using.

The surprisingly deep upgrade system for both the weapons and War’s abilities is extensive. War can be shaped to a gamers’ play style, whether it’s juggling enemies with air combos, or hitting enemies to build up a 30-count combo. The combos and sword moves are fun. There are patented executions similar to God of War. War rips off arms, heads, swords and often times pummels enemies with their own devices before decapitating them in a gore-soaked moment.

Graphically, the game is good. The dungeons, the outdoors, and the burning city look incredible. Light flickers off the walls and water. Shadows outline enemies from afar. There are lots of details on the enemies and War himself looks like he’s been ripped out of Dark Horse comics. In the end, the game is fun despite its few shortcomings. Although it’s on the shorter side and the replay value is minimal, it’s still a worthy for fans of the GOW series.

Final Grade B