Release Date: August 14, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The Legend of Zelda, God of War, Prince of Persia
What's Great: The combat has gotten much better, as your magical prowess is expanded, and the abilities you can use are actually worthwhile. The magical abilities are far more useful than the crap that War had, as these abilities grow on with one another in the skill tree. The game world definitely feels larger, especially with the different realms that you do visit; they rarely feel like "mirror worlds" of one another. Having Despair (your horse) from the very beginning is so goddamned welcome after the debacle that was the first game.
What's (Not So) Great: The GUI and the gun. Learning that the UI team was fired back in March only helps to aid my hatred for the menus. It's generic, it's old, it's terrible to look at. It works (hardly), but it's ugly. The worst offender in the menus are the stats. If I'm looking at changing my gear around, why is it showing what the numbers are going up to rather than what they going up by?
For example, let's say I have a cowl equipped that grants an additional 20 point of Defense. If I find another shoulder piece that's better, but doesn't offer that much added Defense, it shouldn't be showing "▼16", but rather "▼4", as in the new piece of equipment is dropping 4 points; this makes it seem like you're dropping 16 points of added Defense, but it means it's dropping to an increase of 16 points. This forces you to go to the currently equipped item, memorize it's stats, then go back, and see if it's worth the minus 4 points for the added 5% gilt drop. There's also the issue that some item stats actually don't appear when viewing another item. Having a gauntlet that grants an extra 5% Experience is great, but when you see a better one that gives a whole bunch of stuff but added Experience, show me that the extra Experience rate is being removed, rather than not show it at all.
What should have happened was show the stats of the currently selected item, then the stats of the currently equipped item, and compare stats between the two. You know, like every other fucking RPG out there. THQ axing the entire UI team 5 months before the release was a detriment, because it's evident that a programmer finalized the touches, and not a graphic designer; it's functional, but ugly as sin.
Bottom Line: Looking back at my time with the first Darksiders, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but it had the little annoyances that bugged me. Two and a half years later, THQ delivers with a promising sequel, not only making the game feel richer, but the nuances I had discovered were calmed. Was every issue I had fixed? No, not quite; matter of fact, with a new RPG system, there arises several issues. However, Darksiders II is a worthy sequel, and, with THQ this close to going under, I hope that we see more entries in the series.
(Rented the game from GameFly, finishing the game on Normal difficulty. Never went too far out of my way for tokens or non-essentials, but if there was a treasure chest, you can bet your ass I went after it. Obtained 33 Achievements worth 530 GamerScore over 17.5 hours.)