Along those same lines, loot collection is used effectively to customize primary and secondary weapons, body armour, and so on. Rare items are easily accumulated into your inventory by opening chests and defeating enemies, a la Diablo. Comparison stats and auto-collection options help streamline the process by limiting your reliance on convoluted menus, which is good because navigation quickly gets frustrating. It's a well designed system, but one with a handful of minor issues. Important information isn't always communicated clearly, but more importantly, perks that enhance health - especially regeneration - wreck havoc on attempts to balance difficulty. Let's just say that when you regain health after every hit, any lingering fear of collateral damage goes out the window.
Overall, the relatively open world of Darksiders II is one of its stronger assets - the grandiose and varied environments throughout are consistently worth seeing. Although, I suspect there's pragmatic reasoning behind the large-scale environmental design - namely, to keep you from looking at things up close too often, because the visual presentation doesn't hold up nearly as well under close scrutiny. That being said, while the occasional blurry texture, pop-in shadow or minor hiccups can be excused, abrupt loading sequences are a noticeable performance drawback. These instances remain the exception to an otherwise vibrant graphic-novel aesthetic and generally polished package.
Vigil's return to its biblically-inspired fantasy universe adds scale and depth in almost every meaningful way. The addition of loot collection and levelling systems headline the naturally-expanded world of Darksiders II, which also features massive, largely open environments, and a wider variety of ways to traverse, battle and puzzle through its vast dungeons. The sheer amount of content, filled with mostly worthwhile side-missions, will likely be enough for those who enjoyed the first game, but Vigil's ambitious drive to increase scale comes with a number of growing pains. Darksiders II is simply too long for its own good, needlessly overstretching its campaign with tedious fetch-quests, repetitive puzzle-solving, simplistic platforming, and hordes of dull enemy encounters. Consequently, these pacing issues often grind plot progression to a halt, making Darksiders II feel like more of a chore than it should for prolonged periods. Things do eventually come together in the final act to redeem some of the previous missteps. Bottom line: stricter editing would have gone a long way in making Darksiders II a sequel to recommend without reservation.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
|» Massive world to explore.|
|» Vibrant, graphic novel aesthetic.|
|» Greater than the sum of its parts.|
|» Inconsistent difficulty curve / balancing issues.|
|» Repetitive puzzles and combat.|
|» At times, the narrative feels like an afterthought.|