Darksiders (PS3) Review

Here is a title that has had a rocky past with. When it was on the way, I did not have a PS3 or 360. I did not want either machine. But I was interested in this game. The world drew my attention. But it wasn't enough to get me to get a console.... other games would do that with a PS3 in due time. But when this game hit PC, I HAD to have it. And within 30 minutes of purchase, the game was shelved due to many many glitches, the worse of which made my PC screen black out to show a pallet of shapes in really low resolution and then reset. (It was like an arcade machine that broke.) So finally, I picked it up for the PS3, hoping for a much more stable experience. Well, it was at least stable, but let's get into that as we go.

Story: The seals have been destroyed! Armageddon is at hand! And with the end of the world, the horsemen approach. But for some reason, only War arrives. Without understanding, he proceeds on to wage the war he was called on to wage... only to watch angels look at him in shock. Abaddon himself proclaimed that the last seal was not broken. It doesn't take long before War must answer for the crime of breaking the pact the seal represented, and the council seals his fate to death for his crimes.

And yet this is only where the story begins. For War knew he was not to blame. He was called and he answered it. That the 7 seals are in tact makes no sense, but can only mean someone else called, and he is taking the fall for it. You follow War on his quest to find out exactly what happened.

While the game story does not ever really get that complicated, it doesn't need to. It's a pretty straight forward adventure game that saves all the twists and turns (and there are about four, but all of them are pretty big) for the second half of the game, and to explain them here would only be spoilers for anyone who hasn't played. Still, what is here will never leave you bored. It is very well written and comes together very well to a very climactic conclusion... kinda.

I have to say kinda because this is one of those games that clearly does not get the concept of "end of the story is where the game should end." Instead, the game has a pretty heavy "to be continued" sign which while we can hope Darksiders 2 will carry well, I have to consider a major mark against this game.

Graphics:  Remember that promise that Kindoms of Amalur was drawn by Todd McFarlane? Remeber how much the game did not look like it? Maybe it was the theme, but the artists for this game channeled him so much better. This game is gorgeous from beginning to end, with everything just oozing Todd's dark style to the benefit of, well, everything in the game.

If anything, they might be a little too beautiful... as there are specific events in the game that cause the frame-rate to really chug... as in you will be watching a slide-show while these things happen. It is a shame really. This game oozes style, and for that alone, it does better then so many other games this generation, but the engine does not hold up consistently, and the total presentation does suffer for that. Not enough to say the game didn't do great in the graphics department, but enough to really disappoint when it strikes.

Sound: Appropriately epic music fills the scene when your sword flashes through deamons and angels alike, making the scene that much better. And yet when calm and quiet are far more appropriate, it has no problem settling down and fading from any kind of memorable tone. To this end, the music is masterfully wielded through the game. If you listen to it on it's own, it's about as generic "end is niegh" styled music as one can get, but as part of the whole, it really fits in to perfect the scene played before you.

But on the other hand, there is nothing generic about the voice acting... well ok, the Council is very generic, and like someone lowered the tone on Cookie Monster's voice, but everything else is far from. Every character sound perfect for how they look and act, and you will quickly recognize a few more famous voiced in the crowd. Have a listen and enjoy this one.

Gameplay: Let's get the basic labelling out of the way. Darksiders is a Zelda clone. No two ways to describe it. If you've played any Legend of Zelda titles released since Ocarina of Time, you already know the type of game to expect. You will explore, beat up a bunch of monsters, figure out some puzzles, get into a dungeon or three, and even beat bosses in those dungeons designed around the new mechanics earned while making your way to them. Hell, you will even eventually get a horse!

Though it seems like the developers wanted to do something else first more akin to God of War. To this end you get a lot more apocalyptic setting, moves you can purchase (or upgrade) for points earned on the battlefield, and even your weapons level up. For the first few levels they even go so far as to throw arenas with arbitrary rules at you before letting your proceed with the game. The arenas themselves, are fine, since they are supposed to be hiding places of a specific kind of deamon that is guarding a gate. But when you set a time limit and limit how exactly you can kill the nenemies, all the while setting a number you must achieve to win with no more explanation then the splash screen explaining this next arbitrary rule, it degrades the whole thing into a meaningless way to try to be something it's not.

Further pushing this is another early moment in which you ride a beast from Heaven to one of the dungeons you have to find in what can only be described as a Panzar Dragoon/Star Fox mini game that shows both why those games were/are better and why they didn't need a second joystick.

But thankfully, the developers seem to come to their senses before the first half is nearly up and return to what the game is... a descent Zelda clone, leaving the only remaining suprise to be something to give you an extra reward, not a mandatory rule that will stop the game if you fail. If you have the patients to deal with the experimentation that proves why sometimes formula is good, you will enjoy this game.

Bugs: Oh god, where do I begin. If I have any real lasting flaws to call on this game, it's the bugs I encountered, starting with the first real boss.

Bombs don't appear: In order to fight the first boss, you need to throw bombs on it and use your newest weapon to target and ignite them. This... doesn't work so well when for a large chunk of the fight they simply refuse to show up/be targetable. This bug actually almost killed me, let alone my TV, because it had convinced me I was missing... at least until 4 of them randomly showed up at once when I was on death's bed. So much for missing. So much for solid coding.

Inconsitent jumping: Since most of the game was not jumping puzzle, and frankly falling to your death actually meant losing a small chunk of your health and trying again, this wasn't such a big issue. Still, it always pisses the player off when you can't jump because you didn't do it before getting too close to the edge... not after you walk off, but are too close to the edge.

Falling through the floor: Whatever you do, in elevators do NOT jump around. I did it when going back to a part I finished to treasure hunt. I fell through the floor and never saw the elevator again. Had I not finished the part of the game, it would have been a game ending bug.

Crashes: To date, my PS3 has crashed to reset about 6 times... 4 of which were while quitting this game. All I can really say to that.

Overall: Honestly, knowing this is the same studio currently working on Warhammer 40K Online scares me for an MMO I am honestly looking forward to. But all bugs aside, this is a damn cool game, and being under $20 new, it's worth dealing with the technical problems that plague it. Im not sure I would buy Darksiders 2 when it hits, but I would enjoy this one now.

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