|Release Date:||January 8th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Revelations 6:1-8: "Another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword."
War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is not having a good day. As one of the Four he is charged by the Charred Council (a sort of mystical court of law) to keep the warring factions of Heaven and Hell from destroying each other.
Called to Earth for what he believes is the Endtime, when all of humanity, Heaven and Hell will be judged, he instead discovers that he has been summoned prematurely, Earth is being levelled by the armies of The Destroyer (Satan, probably) and he has unintentionally ignited a war - ironic really.
Called back to the Council, War is charged with discovering the powers at work behind the premature Endtime, and is sent back to Earth, only to find the human race is extinct and he's suddenly not that powerful anymore.
So far, so Devil May Cry, but rather than being another clone of that venerable series, Darksiders happily forges its own path, the game is a rollercoaster ride through the downfall of reality, and is damn good fun too.
Sounds good doesn't it? It's a shame that the excellent set up the plot peters out into a ridiculous cul-de-sac towards the end of a game - rather disappointing - luckily the gameplay more than makes up for it. War, the Horseman to whom was given a powerful sword, is a tough warrior. Standing twice the size of a normal man, he can fell creatures three times his size (and often has to.)
Even stripped of his powers he is still a force to be reckoned with, the wide sweeps of his blade hitting many enemies at once - and good thing too, as the game loves to surround you with screaming beasties.
As the game advances you gradually unlock War's suppressed powers, ranging from a healing aura to the ability to have swords thrust up from the ground. You can also collect and use other demonic weapons, including War's brother Death's scythe, which gives the game a whole new angle.
The gameplay itself is fast and furious. Each of the levels, ranging from blasted city to windswept desert, is crammed full of enemies to squash, as well as a huge number of boss fights, often on a scale with God of War's epic battles.
This is where the game suffers however, as the interface is lumbered with a dodgy inventory system and overly complicated control scheme. While you can map four items to the D-pad, this is finicky to set properly and I often found myself having to pause the game and fiddle about in the menus to find what I wanted, breaking the immersion.
The controls themselves are also a bit tricky - throwing an abandoned car at the huge, slobbering demon in front of you requires the use of at least three buttons and the right joystick - but once you get used to it, the scheme is passable.
One saving grace is the 'execution' button - when you've bashed an enemy close to death, the 'O' symbol appears above their head, and with a press of a button you can perform a graceful, brutal kill without breaking the flow of battle.
The game also allows you to pull the right trigger and switch into a cinematic camera mode of sorts, as War focuses his attention on one enemy - perfect for the epic killing of some of the massive beasts The Destroyer has sent after you.
As well as the fighting, the game also puts a huge number of fiendish puzzles in your path. While most are quite easy, their complexity makes figuring it out all the more fulfilling - especially as the third-person view gives you unparalleled views of the environment as you move about, aligning mirrors and pushing blocks.
Graphically the game is pretty solid. The environments are rendered neatly, with the dust blowing around the abandoned human cities being a particularity nice touch. There is very little graphical slow-down, but when the fighting gets too intense the game does occasionally suffer a frame-rate lapse, but it's momentary and not worth quibbling over.
The voice acting is also of a good quality. Mark Hamill returns as 'the Watcher' a snide demon implanted into War after his failure to prevent the Endtime, and recycles his Joker voice from Batman: Arkham Asylum to great effect. The voice actor for War himself, while deep and masculine, seems to spend a lot of his time panting, which gets annoying fast.
Other characters stick to their stereotypes- the nervy trader demon, the deadly cackle of demonic witches, but the real stars are the voices moaning in the winds, the cries of souls lost in the Endtime - haunting.
If you're looking for a decent action game with good visuals, great gameplay and a demonic theme look no further. Despite its wafer-thin plot and difficult controls, Darksiders is a fulfilling game with a lot to see and do, and is well worth adding to your collection.
- Great action
- Good graphics
- Good voice acting and atmosphere
Not so good stuff
- Sadly flawed plot
- Irritating controls