Darksiders: Wrath of War
Game title: Darksiders: Wrath of War
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: Playstation 3 & X-Box 360
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: Vigil Games
Release date: January 5, 2010
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Darksiders: Wrath of War is an action adventure game for the Playstation 3 and X-Box 360 that is sure to fly in under most people's radars. The game never recieved much media attention and did not enjoy much fanfare when it was released on the fifth of January in 2010. While it is true that the game is quite similar to other games, especially God of War and Legend of Zelda, did deserve more attention than it got. Darksiders: Wrath of War is an excellent game that should not be missed, especially if you are a fan of the two previously mentioned series.
Gameplay - 8.5
As I mentioned before, Darksiders: Wraht of War plays out a lot like God of War, with it's combat, and Legend of Zelda, with it's dungeons and puzzle solving. This cannot be said ot be a bad though, though. Both of those series are excellent. While it is true that Darksiders is not as good as either of them (that's a pretty tall order.), it is excellent in it's own right. It does not leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth of having been there and done that before and better. IT feels more like, "This is a lot of fun too." Despite being similar to those two games, this game stands on it's own two feet as it's own series, and it may be the begining of a great series. One can only hope.
Anyway, the combat in Darksiders: Wrath of War, as previously mentioned, takes a lot from the God of War franchise. This means that the fighting is fast paced, frantic and highly stylized. At the begining of hte game, you start off with all of your powers and abilities avaliable to you. Just like in God of War 2, something happens and you are stripped of, basically, everything but your sword. As you play throughout the game, you gain a few more weapons and power ups. There is also a secret weapon that the people that preordered got, the scythe that Death (Grim reaper, not horseman). It isn't necessary, but it is a cool addition to the game. As you use your weapons more and more, they gain experience and level up to become more powerful. As you kill enemies, you gain orbs that you can use to purchase and upgread your various weapons and abilities. Does that all sound familiar? It should. It is not, however, as in depth as God of War or Devil May Cry. That being said, what is here is very cool. The fighting is a lot of fun, and you will need to mix it up. Button mashing, alone, will not get you through the game.
Most of your time in this game will be spent dungeon crawling Legend of Zelda style. This game features a number of massive dungeons that you must brave. Each dungeon is filled with puzzles that you need to solve to progress further into the dungeon. Quite often, these puzzles will make use of either items and powers that you already aquired in the dungeon or items and powers from a previous dungeon. This allows the puzzles to have a lot of variety in them. There are bosses and mid bosses in the dungeons, as well. Each end boss of the dungeon has a certain way that you are supposed to beat it, just like in Zelda. Just like the puzzles before the bosses, you will need to utilize items found in the dungeons to beat the boss. Each boss leaves you with a sense of accomplisment after having beaten them, just like any good game of this type should. The puzzles and bosses are fun without being overly frustrating. The puzzles are a bit challenging, but not so difficult that it should warrant looking up the answers. You should be able to get through this game on your own.
This game gives you a large array of items and abilities. You can double jump and glide with your wings. War has a rage form that allows him to become temporarily invincible and very powerful. There is a glove that allows for punching and breaking things with ease in the game. War will obtain a gun for attacking from distance. He gains a horse, as expected. He is, after all, one of the horsemen. It allows for faster transportation, and you can attack with both your sword and your gun from on his back. There is a hook shot type of weapon that is used for both swinging and drawing things to you. There is, even, what basically amounts to a portal gun that is used for creative and cool puzzles and some of the more memorable boss fights in the game. Valve, take note of how someone else used the idea. IT can be used for cool boss encounters. Remember that. You have seen all the items and power ups before, but they are all put to excellent use here.
Graphics - 9.0
Darksiders is set ihn a post apocalyptic world. To most gamers, this brings to mind a see of grey, brown and black levels and smoking ruins. Only one of these holds true in Darksiders. There are plent of ruins in this game, but they are not all grey, brown and black that we all see in traditional post apocalyptic worlds that video games present. This game is vibrant and full of color. The apocalypse can be filled with color?! Who would have thought? Vigil Games. That's who. In Darksiders: Wrath of War, they present a world that is as beautiful as it is varied, and it is hard not to love when the gaming market is flooded with 'realistic greys and browns.'
Simply calling Darksiders a beautiful game would be an unjust statement about what Vigil Games have accomplished here. Generally speaking, when a game recieves very little attention leading up to it's release, as is the case with this game, it winds up not looking all that great. Darksiders isn't just great. It is stellar. Vigil has created a vibrant and breath taking world full of varied locations and beautiful art for us to explore here. Everything in this game looks great. There are no akward animations. Facial expressions do not take a dive at any point. Characters never look lifeless. Every location from the ruined highway to the underwater ruins to Anvil Forge looks gorgeous, and it is always a joy to see what will be coming up next in this game. You will look forweard to moving on in the game, if nothing else, to see what the artists and level designers will throw at you next.
It is not all fine and dandy, however. Darksiders is not perfect graphically. I never noticed a bit of slow down, so this game has no major graphical issues. That being said, there is screen tearing in this game. IT is unfortunate, but true. It is not a problem that will rear it's ugly head occasionally either. This game has quite a bit of screen tearing in it. IT is bad enough that, supposably, the team behind the game is actually working on a patch to fix this problem. I, certainly, hope that they do put out a patch for this game that fixes this issue. Screen tearing is not a game breaker like slowdown can be, but it is annoying, none the less. It is mroe than enough to subtract from the graphical score that this game recieves.
Sound - 8.0
The music in Darksiders does not slack off at all. Much like the graphics, it is excellent. This game features a fully orchestrated sound track, and you will notice the power behind it from the very first screen in the game. The title screen has an up beat and intense track designated to it. You know your ears are in for a treat from the moment that you boot the game up, and it does not disappoint throughout. The music picks up and intensifies during battle and slows down and heads back to the background when outside of battle. IT is appropriate for all situations, and it really helps to pump up the games most intense moments. It also helps to make these moments more memorable. The music sounds full of wonder for the puzzle solving parts and it kicks up a bit when you manage to solve one of hte games many puzzle to help strengthen the sense of accomplisment you get from it.
The voice work is a bit of a different story. It is the reason that the sound gets an 8 instead of an 8.5 or a 9. Some of the characters are voiced well. The great Mark Hamill gives the most memorable performance with his portrayal of the Watcher. The always great Phil LaMarr (Hermes from Futurama and Vamp from Metal Gear Solid being his most notable roles) puts in an excellent performance as Vulgrim. That being said, most of the performances are passable but forgettable. War, in particular, is nothing special. Then again, Liam O'Brien, who played him, didn't have much to work with. War spent most of the game speaking in outright threats or veiled threats. To say the least, his lines aren't exactly Quinten Tarantino quality.
Story - 7.0
Story is not the most important aspect of any video game (Sorry RPG fans. It isn't more important than gameplay), and this especially rings true where action adventure games are concerned. They focus more on the puzzles and level design and making sure the dungeons and temples that you explore add to the overall feeling of taking an epic journey instead of focusing on pushing out a fantastic story. There are a few notable exceptions to this (Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Shadow of the Colossus spring instantly to mind). Darksiders, however, is not one of them. It's story is forgettable and, generally speaking, serves as nothing more than a reason to go from one dungeon to another on your quest. Like all games, however, there is a story present. It is just forgettable.
In Darksiders, you play as the horsemen War, who is made to think that the seven seals of the Apocalypse have been broken. You travel to Earth to do your thing as one of the horsemen. The begining of the game has you roaming the streets as the apocalypse is actually happening. War notes that something is amiss, however. Something is, most definitely not right. Where are the other three horsemen, and why are they not on earth with you? After being beaten by a massive demon called the Destroyer, you find yourself flung back off of Earth and brought before the charred council, who is pissed off and wants to know why the apocalypse has taken place ahead of schedule. They blame you. You cannot give them the answers they are looking for, and they strip you of your powers to keep you in check and send you back to Earth to try to prove your innocence while under the watchful eye of the Watcher. You spend the rest of the game trying to do this and trying to figure out just what happened.
It is a shame that the rest of the story is both predictable and forgettable because Darksiders does have a cool set up. The story in this game will probably leave you feeling let down after such a cool begining to the story. It starts off well. You begin to kill off the chosen one by one to try to gain access to the Destroyers temple, where the truth lies in wait, but each of these characters is dispatched just as quickly as they are introduced. They are not even given enough screen time to give something resembling a personality. In fact, the only two characters in this story that are memorable at all are Vulgrim, who serves as a shop keep in this game, and the Watcher, who keeps an eye on you throughout the entire game for the council. The final pay off in this game is nothing special, though it does round itself off well enough. This game actually has an ending, which is something that is increasingly rare in video games today. IT does not end on some massive cliff hanger, and the developers didn't just plain forget to put in an ending (*cough*halo2*cough*). It just doesn't stick with you after you are done.
Replay Value - 8.5
Any action adventure game worth it's merit will be fairly lengthy. This was true when Nintendo created the Legend of Zelda on the NES by making a game that you could not beat in one sitting. It is still true more than 20 years later. Darksiders does not break this rule. It is a fairly long game. It will take the average player twenty to twenty-five hours to beat. It will keep you busy for a while, and you will enjoy every second of it's epic journey. There are a number of things to do outside of the main story as well. You can spend a lot of time fighting in various areas to gather orbs to fully upgrade War. There are also hidden items to collect throughout the game, as well as a number of other side things to keep you busy as you play throughout the game. Ontop of that, this game is fun enough that it can warrant more than one playthrough. Despite there being no multiplayer, this game has enough to keep you busy for some time.
Final thoughts -
Darksiders: Wrath of War has striking similarities to the Legend of Zelda, God of War and even Portal, but that does not make it a bad game. In fact, it's obvious influences help to make it a good game. It only borrows the best elements from those games and leaves behind the parts you would rather forget. The world is beautiful and a joy to explore. The combat is a lot of fun, if a little shallow. The dungeons are big and filled with good puzzles, and the score to the game is very good. This is a game that should not be overlooked by anyone who calls themselves a fan of action adventure games. It is a lot of fun to play and will keep you busy for quite some time. It will leave you feeling satisfied upon completion and will leave you hoping for more. It has a few shortcomings. The story isn't great, and there is screen tearing. the combat is a little on the shallow side and none of the puzzles are absolute brain benders, but this is a great start and will leave you hoping that Vigil makes a series out of this. They can fix the problems in future itirations. For now, enjoy what is here. Don't miss this one.
Gameplay - 8.5
The combat is a lot of fun, and this game has some good puzzles in it's dungeons. The boss battles are cool and memorable.
Graphics - 9.0
Screen tearing blotches an, otherwise, beautiful game
Sound - 8.0
The soundtrack is great, but the voice acting is, for the most part, forgettable
Story - 7.0
The story is forgettable and serves as a reason to move from one great dungeon to another
Replay Value - 8.5
20 to 25 hours long with a number of collectible items and side stuff to keep you busy. Worth playing more than once.