Sunday, February 14, 2010

Darksiders [Xbox 360]

Darksiders starts off as a weak, bloody version of Legend of Zelda but by the end is serving up interesting puzzles, fun combat and even a little compelling narrative. Providing you are prepared to put up with the opening couple of hours, there is a polished and clever adventure to be had.

The biggest theme in Darksiders is improvement. The game starts of really dreadful. The combat is incredibly boring and yet the game insists chucking you against hundreds of enemies; fighting them becomes a massive chore. When you get to a puzzle, it is mind numbingly simple, usually hitting something nearby to open a door. The environments are drab grey. The only promise of interest, humans running from angles and demons as the two super powers fight out a massive war on earth, dies out when you realise that the main game is set when the two powers are in a stalemate and all the humans are dead.

However, as the game progresses, everything gets better. You learn new moves and the combat is challenging enough so that you have to use them. By the end of the game, you are skilfully diving in with an attack and shooting back out as they come back at you. You use all your moves to great effect and fighting is really rewarding.

The puzzles follow a similar pattern. After the initial few hours, they become really rewarding. The puzzles are all logical and instead of feeling like you spotted the trick the designer wanted you to, you feel like you worked it out and it is your solution to a problem. Some of them follow the Legend of Zelda method of using your latest tool, but others require you to apply everything you have learnt so far and a little imagination. The only draw back is sometimes, especially in some of the boss fights, there is little feedback to indicate if you are doing the right thing, which is disheartening.

Even the story improves. OK, it never gets great, and the way it is delivered is poor: the game feeds you virtually no story line through out the whole game then at about 85% of the way through, it gives you two massive cut scenes one after the other which deliver the entire story. However, it is almost compelling and by the end, your previously boring character has a much more defined personality. The story is very confusing, partly because of the bulk delivery, but the ending is quite neat (hopefully a 4 player co-operative sequel?)

I had a lot of fun with this game. It presents some really cool locations later on, even if you feel you have visited some of them before (the sand dunes, for example, mimic the sand dunes in Legend of Zelda). It looks good, the game loads smoothly when travelling between environments and although the controls aren't perfect, the combat works well.

Zelda fans will have a great time with this game and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the time to get past the opening section.

This review was based on a promotional copy supplied by the publisher.

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