Darksiders 2 Hands-on Preview «

It’s been a few months since I last saw Darksiders 2 during a brief hands-off demo, and at the time I promised myself I’d digitally dust off my copy of the original Darksiders (for real this time), and play through it. “It’s the best Zelda game of the last 10 years,” my friends would tell me, but still I couldn’t find more than a few hours to invest into War’s underworld adventure. And now that I’ve had a chance to go hands-on with his slick and sexy brother, Death, my priorities have changed all over again — I’m just going to wait for Darksiders 2 to come out in a few months instead.

Making a Mark

The bulk of my hands-on time took place inside the Maker’s Realm, the first of four major zones that will make up the bulk of the upcoming action adventure. More specifically, I was running around the final dungeon of this zone, which is roughly six to seven hours in. It’s a good place to get a feel for most of Death’s abilities like wall running, climbing pillars, and using Death Grip, a zipline that shoots out of his hands in order to swing across chasms. At times it felt like I was playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time — which is a very good thing — what with all the bouncing off of walls and jumping from pillar to pillar. It has really brought to light that whole Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comparison Vigil made last time I saw Darksiders 2 in action — Death really is, in effect, a superhero.

In this zone, Death was looking for ways to combat a mysterious force known as Corruption that’s taking control of the Underworld. He figured the best way to go about tackling this evil force was to seek the aid of a giant construct, which is basically a rock creature that stands several stories tall but is frozen in time. If he can locate a couple of giant crystals hidden throughout this large dungeon, and then place them on the construct, it’ll come to life and in theory help Death — although something tells me a battle will be taking place with this giant before the day is done.

Karn is going to be much more useful to my journey than the wise-cracking Watcher.

Aiding me in this quest is an NPC companion named Maker Karn, whose purpose in life is to toss me up to some hard-to-reach places, point me in the right direction if I get lost, or hold heavy stone doors open for me as I solve some rudimentary pull lever puzzles. The companion is a carryover from the previous Darksiders, but it seems like Karn is going to be much more useful to my journey than the wise-cracking Watcher character, particularly because he can help me in battle.

Slick and Sexy

Playing with a wired Xbox 360 controller plugged into a PC, Death controlled as smoothly as Batman does on the PC in Arkham City. (The mouse-and-keyboard controls weren’t quite ready for action, but Vigil assures me they’ll be in there.) Although I didn’t come across any lesser demons that didn’t go down after a couple of hits, mixing light and heavy attacks and dodging out of the way of enemies all felt very responsive. The frequency and quality of loot items was tuned up for this demo so I’d have a chance to see the different armor and weapon sets, like a gigantic hammer twice the size of Death himself that quickly stomped the life out of any nearby enemies.

The grapple master.

The scenery of this single dungeon shifted from underground vats of lava to flooded tunnels and then caverns covered in crystals, really showcasing a wide variety of well-crafted locations — and this is one just one of several areas. Granted, I can’t yet tell what the quality of every dungeon will be, but if this one sub-area of a large zone is any indication, it bodes well.

“I think PC gamers will be happy and I don’t think it will feel like a port.” – Producer Ryan Stefanelli

“There are certainly conventions in Darksiders 2 that will be more familiar to PC gamers,” explains Producer Ryan Stefanelli. “The loot system, leveling up, managing your skill tree, having an inventory to manage — that type of depth we’ve added to Darksiders 2 should make PC gamers feel right at home. Now that we’re even more familiar with that platform, we can go even deeper into creating Darksiders 2 on PC, so we won’t have to use WASD to go through the menu and select different elements. Now you can click on them and move things around with the mouse. I think PC gamers will be happy and I don’t think it will feel like a port.”

Big Deal

As my adventure neared its conclusion, I placed each of the collected crystals onto the gigantic construct and — sure enough — it came to life started to attack just like all good gigantic videogame bosses should. As the battle shifted to an expansive arena, it reminded me a lot of the PlayStation 2 classic, Shadow of the Colossus when I climbed up Valus or when I was trying to outrun other giant colossi on horseback. In this case, Death was on his mighty steed, Despair, as he circled around looking for an area to start climbing the giant construct, although the challenge of navigating up the legs of the construct was much simpler than that of SotC’s colossi.

You think Death’s horse likes being called Despair?

I traversed the gigantic legs and arms of the construct, all the while trying to avoid falling to the ground, made my way to each of the crystal locations, and destroyed them by rapidly pressing the attack button. Even though the overall goal of destroying these crystals was rather simple, it still felt pretty epic due to the scale of the boss.

And Darksiders 2 is shaping up to be just that: epic. The sheer size of the game sounds incredibly ambitious, and I hope Vigil can pull it off. We’ll find out when Darksiders 2 comes out on June 26th.


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