Darksiders II - Review
The game of Vigil Games, despite some turbulence (moreover shared with the whole THQ, which is really in great difficulty) in the development stages, is among the best action and adventure titles that have been seen not only this year, but even for some years now. Compared to the previous episode, which veered persistently towards a drift à la Zelda and was satisfied with an unconvincing combat system, Darksiders II offers much more and, in large part, a decidedly superior quality. But it also has some noticeable differences in terms of game design. Where the War adventures, two years earlier, focused on dungeons with a large structure, increasingly complex puzzles and clashes with giant bosses who, too, were above all "interpreted" and dealt with through the right gadget, the events of Death shift a little bit about the goal.
This time the level design is more linear, the exploration focuses more on the stunts, the puzzles, although present and although characterized by some very valid found, never push too much on the complexity. At the same time, the fights offer significantly greater satisfaction. The development of the protagonist Death is articulated according to two trees of very different skills and which, in fact, allow you to create a character suitable for your style, depending on whether you prefer, for example, to rely on the support of evocable creatures or directly to pizzas in the face Although the management of particularly large groups of enemies is sometimes a bit complex and, rightly, also for this reason you often risk relying on some combination of keys a bit random, the game offers an approach to combat varied, rich, with different opportunities and above all supported by a role-playing loot system with titanic dimensions. All this, combined with an incredibly vast adventure, full of optional missions with really huge traits, and an attempt to offer a minimum of variety, for example with shooter stages, goes to compose a game that, as mentioned, is absolutely among the best of its kind. And it is despite some undeniable defects, from the technical quality swinging to the repetitiveness of some missions - moreover aware and made fun of by the script - to get the feeling that, paradoxically, despite the enormity of the game, some could be expanded a little its components.
Some bosses are truly spectacular.
For a slightly more in-depth analysis of the base game, however, I refer you to the review of the PlayStation 3 version. Here, however, it is appropriate to take a look at what the contents of this Wii U re-edition are, to understand if and how much it is worth it. Let's start from the bases: from a "technological" point of view, Darksiders II retains, in principle, the strengths and weaknesses of the game seen on the other consoles, with some rather significant variations. The graphics engine, today as three months ago, does not always manage to do justice to the great work done in outlining the game worlds and, indeed, adds some problems on Wii U. If on the one hand you notice, it must be said, higher quality textures, especially in the interiors and in the confined spaces, on the other we have a decidedly lower general detail, which emerges quite brutally in the wider scenarios (for example in the large plain that occupies the center of the map where you ride for a good half of the adventure).
More generally, in the more demanding "open world" phases, there are clearly slowdowns greater than those that frustrated the other versions. And the thing, combined with a frequency of uploads that seemed to me slightly higher than the PS3 version, can undoubtedly be annoying, although it must also be said that the problems occur mainly in transit areas, where there is no a lot to fight: when the going gets tough, between boss and dungeon, all in all Darksiders II for Wii U behaves like its little brother Sony branded.
Riding in larger environments creates some problems for the game engine.
In short, you can fly over, with a little goodwill, the differences in the technical realization, above all because, as mentioned, they only affect the gameplay up to a certain point. Although, without a doubt, the evocative power of certain large scenarios pays some duty. Among other things, it is not known to what extent these problems are the result of a job perhaps forcedly rushed to be at the launch, of the technical limits of the console or, perhaps, of the compromises to which it is mandatory to undergo to exploit the GamePad. And in fact, to help forgive, let's face it, a Mr. Wii U controller support might think about it, but here too there are ups and downs. First of all, it is possible to play entirely on the GamePad, without even turning on the TV, and it is certainly a welcome option, which, as for several other games, represents a fresh and pleasant possibility. Although it must be said that the game is not really designed for viewing on a small screen and sometimes one has to deal with elements that are not very easy to read. We are not at the levels of when we played the first Dead Rising on an SD TV and we could not read the writings, but in short, at times, the effect is not the best.
This also affects the accessibility of menus via GamePad when playing in the traditional way. During the game, the touch screen shows a screen actually well thought out, which allows you to select weapons on the fly, to change equipment with a couple of touches. While you are fighting, of course, it is still preferable to pause, but certainly, after having collected a good avalanche of weapons, or at least in the "quieter" phases, managing the inventory at your fingertips is functional and pleasant. The problems are manifested in the various pause screens, which are exactly the same as those that can be displayed on the TV, therefore they are also not suitable, in terms of size, for use on the touch screen. You can zoom with a double tap, but the result is still artificial and not particularly lean in operation. To be used with the fingers, these screens are uncomfortable, they certainly work better with the stylus, but you almost always end up having to follow the path of traditional controls first. In short, from this point of view, with greater effort, something more could be done, perhaps making the screens specially designed and different from those visible on the TV appear on the touch screen. Beyond the touch controls, the motion sensor is supported, as an optional replacement for traditional controls, for dodging (and, therefore, also to encourage the horse to run) and for swimming. But we are on the side of the superfluous, if not the annoying.
The implementation of motion control appears frankly superfluous.
From the point of view of additional content, without a doubt, the Game of the Year edition nature of the game is much more interesting, which includes here all the downloadable content seen in previous versions. We therefore have the various small and large extras of the DLC distributed over time, partly linked also to assorted pre-orders. Without going into the petty analysis of the individual objects, it is appropriate to spend two words for Death Rides, which adds some optional missions well integrated in the fabric of the main campaign, but above all Argul's Tomb, a real separate content. It is an extra mission accessible from the game menu, therefore not included in the story, which however shares the rescue, allowing you to use the equipment and skills gained in the main game (the mission, however, requires some powers that, if not have still been unlocked, will be granted to Death for the occasion). The DLC includes three sections, one with shooter mechanics (although, technically, it is not mandatory to rely on the practical cannon and you can engage directly in not necessarily simple fights), and two more traditional, with a little exploration, a very successful final boss and even some well thought out puzzles, with some clever and quite different use of powers from what you see in the main game. Beyond this, it is a section suitable for "grinding", full of enemies to shoot down and with several interesting pieces of equipment. Nothing unmissable, but certainly pleased to find these contents included in the package.
Andrea Maderna had a lot of fun returning to the worlds of Darksiders II and, despite all the limitations, he found at times pleasant to play a "home" game in a more or less portable way. Talk to him about life and death on Facebook and Twitter.