I make no secret of the fact that I am a fan of the original Darksiders. I knew upon completing the first game that there was going to be a sequel, but what I didn't know was how much it would change for the better.
Darksiders II takes place during the 100 year imprisonment of War, the main character of the first game. You play as Death in an attempt to prove your brothers innocence, and bring back humanity. Throughout the course of the game, Death has to deal with his own past as well, troubled by his hand in the demise of his own race. The narrative is well written, and the story flows well - I was always interested in what was going to happen next.
The game begins with Death traveling across a snowy peak in search of The Crowfather, a wise elderly spirit, to seek direction as to how he might save his brother, War. The game played familiarly enough. I was able to pull a couple of combos out of my hat while traversing the serene powder filled environment simply by recalling some basics from the first Darksiders. The first difference I noticed was that Death's attacks were much faster than those of War. Death dual wields a pair of scythes, ripping, flipping, and dashing through enemies. The next thing I noticed was that when I hit enemies, numbers rose up from them. I then locked onto an enemy, and saw a little health gauge. Before long I noticed that enemies and myself had levels, and by checking the equipment screen, I found that I had stats. They turned Darksiders from a pure hack and slash into an action RPG...and I love it! Even the execution moves, which used to be available whenever an enemy was low on health God of War style is now delegated to a stat.
If you couldn't guess by my description of the start-game area, Darksiders II is gorgeous. Everything is lush, and full of life (except for the Land of the Dead of course). As I mentioned, you now have stats. These stats are raised not only by leveling up, but also buy putting on new equipment. I don't know for sure how many different piece of equipment enemies can drop, or that you can find and buy throughout the game. Each piece of equipment looks different in some way, and these differences are reflected on Death. In the first game, War's secondary weapon was one of Death's scythes. There was no other option aside from the scythe. In Darksiders II, however, there are a plethora of secondary weapons for you to choose from. Axes, maces, hammers, and katars just to name a few. Like armor, there are several different types of each individual kind of weapon, and some have different elements and special abilities as well.
Death also starts the game with his steed, Despair. He controls the same as War's horse, Ruin, from Darksiders. I feel like they should have included him in some mandatory plot moment like they did with Ruin in the first game, but they did not. In fact, the one moment of the game where they put you on him by force, you are better off without him. He is useful for traversing large, open areas, however. Darksiders II is much larger than the first game. I would go as far as to say that the first hubworld, dungeons included is about the size of the whole Darksiders play area. Taking a page from other games with large words, you can bring up your map and fast travel to discovered locations.
Platforming is a bit different now as well. Death is much more Agile than his brother, and can scale walls, wall rune, and make huge leaps. In fact the platforming feels much like Prince of Persia. Another cool new feature is that now when you talk to NPCs, you are giving multiple options of what to ask them about. This leads to the discovery of side quests, and the revelation of Darksiders lore and story information.
You may have noticed that I keep referring to the first game in an assumption that you have played it. In case you have not, here is the basic gist of Darkiders II gameplay. Take 1 cup of zelda, and bring it to a boil. Now add 1 stick of Devil May Cry and wait for that to melt. After your Zelda is all nice and bubbly, and the Devil May Cry is floating around in a nice cream, give it a small shake of RPG and a dash of Prince of Persia.
Darksiders II is a wonderful game, and an awesome sequel. But the point of a review is for me to point out the good, and the bad, so as much as it pains me, here are the negatives. Though there are a plethora of Dungeons both mandatory and optional, for you to explore, all of the dungeons withing a hub world look basically the same. In the Forge ands? All of the gungeons are ruined architecture, give or take some water or lava. In the Land of the Dead? Give Lara Croft a call. I'm sure you see what I mean. Another thing I have to point out, and that I honestly have a huge problem with, is that your copy of Darksiders comes with a code location on the back of the manual. This 25 digit code must be entered in order to access The Crucible. The Crucible is an arena in which you can fight waves of enemies in an attempt to earn prizes, or clear all the waves. If you buy the game used, you have to purchase access to the The Crucible from THQ - and it isn't even DLC. Even if you so much as delete your file, or create a second one, you will have to buy another code to access the The Crucible on that file. As much as I am in love with this game, and I have to give THQ the middle finger here.
Darksiders II is a grand adventure, a great sequel, and above all, it's fun. It adds a lot to the lore of Darksiders and makes a lot of very positive changes to the gameplay. If you're a fan of Darksiders, it is more than worth your $60. If you haven't played the first game, you might want to do that first. It's cheaper, and you will know rather or not to waste your money on this one. As for me, I don't miss that money one bit. Darksiders II is available of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, and will be available on the Wii U later this year.