E3 2012: Darksiders II: Death Lives (Xbox 360) Preview
At E3 this year, I finally got the chance to pick up and play Darksiders II. In case you don’t remember, I was a huge fan of the first Darksiders game from 2010. So I was really excited about a sequel based on that awesome cliffhanger ending from the first one. The demo at E3 essentially lets you play from the beginning of the game. It begins with a prologue going over some of the events of what happened early in the first game as this game’s story is concurrent with the first one. It jumps into the story of one of the other Horseman brethren, Death, and this game is Death’s story. I do like that the prologue actually addresses what the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse actually are and that they are the last of their kind known as the Nephilim. They were rebels from their race which they all destroyed out of fear the Nephilim were becoming too strong and a threat to the balances of power. And so the story begins as Death rides on his horse, Despair, to the Nether Realm on a mission to save his brother, War, from the Charred Council as War was condemned after being framed for starting the Apocalypse.
So Death is on a mission to save War and Death believes by resurrecting the human race this can absolve War of his crimes. So Death is trying to call in favors from old contacts to get this done. The demo lets you try out Death’s combat and control abilities. Things are mostly similar to the first Darksiders. You are able to summon your horse. Death’s primary weapon is his double-scythe, but early on he can also pick up a large sledgehammer weapon as his secondary weapon. From the menu screens, it looks like there will be plenty of additional RPG-like elements in terms of additional items and magic pick-ups, extra weapons, and attacks you can upgrade as well. In terms of how the characters play, I do miss War a great deal. While I like Death and think he’s a cool character, especially voiced by actor Michael Wincott, I do sort of miss getting to play as War and his giant, honking sword. Camera controls look to be sightly tweaked for the game as well.
As the demo continues you fight some ice like beasties and do some climbing and wall scaling. You get to face off against a giant ice-creature as a type of mini-boss. Eventually Death comes to a withered old man called the Crowfather. There is a mysterious past between these two and it seems to reference that Crowfather was perhaps condemned to keep all the fallen souls of the Nephilim, a curse which drives him nuts. Death attempts to reason with the Crowfather to help absolve War, but the Crowfather refuses. Death is then forced to fight a dark clone of War for a boss battle. It is indeed a cool boss fight and this marks the end of the demo.
Overall the game looks good. I’m still skeptical about the story in that this isn’t a direct sequel to the first game rather a story that is taking place during most of the first game. I do miss playing as War. I was playing the Xbox 360 demo for the game, so obviously the controls were not as good. Some of the graphics and animation in the demo looked a little off, but I was told by the THQ developers that some sync work still needed to be done so hopefully that gets polished up. I hope the game will incorporate the other Horseman, Fury and Strife into the game as well. Darksiders II is due out in August on PS3, Xbox 360, Windows PC, and the Wii-U.