'Darksiders II' has no sense of its style of play

Special to the ManifestoOctober 4, 2012 

The main problem with Darksiders II is that it doesn't excel in any of the styles of play it employs, but that might be considered a plus for casual gamers.

PHOTO COURTESY GAMES PRESS

  • VIDEO GAME REVIEW

    'Darksiders II'

    About: Play as Death as he seeks to help his brother War.

    Players: Single-player

    Pros: The game offers a variety of playing styles and boasts many open environments.

    Cons: The game doesn't excel in any of its various playing styles, and the graphics are not up to par with newer games.

    Availability and price: $59.99 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Coming later this year on the Wii U.

    ESRB rating: M

    Manifesto's rating: 8/10 (Xbox 360)

    Metacritic rating: 8.3/10 (Xbox 360)

If there's one phrase that describes Darksiders II, it's the adage jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

At first, it seems the game is your standard third-person adventure, but the role-playing and puzzle elements quickly begin shining through.

I didn't even know how to accurately classify the title for a while, finally settling on action-adventure-role- playing-puzzler.

And while it does a good job at most of these elements, the game's strength is also its weakness, as it never truly excels or differentiates itself from its competitors.

Players take on the role of Death, primarily wielding two scythes and riding his demonic horse Despair. The plot revolves around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with Death seeking to help his brother War.

The gameplay takes place in mostly open-world environments and dungeon-crawling areas. The game's focus on puzzles provides a good break from the action, and for the most part, the puzzles are well constructed and not too complex. The much-improved loot system does an excellent job of keeping the game from dragging, as there is always that better item worth seeking.

There also are varied side quests available in each major hub of the game. Darksiders II shines here with its ability to keep the game moving smoothly. It's all here — side quests, loot, puzzles, action fighting, open-area exploration and dungeon crawling.

Sadly, there are a few technical glitches that hamper gameplay and detract from the experience. In the end, though, these are minor gripes and don't add up to too much frustration.

In the graphics department, the game leaves a lot to be desired, though. I was not expecting its almost cartoony appearance. While I got used to it quickly, it certainly wasn't a good first impression. Other minor control issues are present, but again, they are minor and lessen the overall experience only slightly.

If you're expecting a deep, rewarding experience in any certain play style, be it role-playing or action, I would look elsewhere. But if you're a casual gamer, I would highly recommend this, as none of its gameplay elements gets too deep or involved.

It's a fantastic game to jump into and enjoy the ride. It's a summer popcorn blockbuster-style of game, so turn your brain off and just play.

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