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Darksiders II - Hands-On Preview

A Quick Look at a Dark, Stylish Game

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Darksiders II - Hands-On Preview
THQ

There are some Wii U games I’m looking forward to because they use the Wii U gamepad in unique and original ways, but there are some games I’m looking forward to just because they just seem really, really cool. Darksiders II, a game I was completely unfamiliar with until I demoed it at a recent Nintendo press event, falls in the latter category.

Darksiders II is a dark, stylish action-adventure game having something to do with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that promises a good mix of combat and puzzle-solving.

Combat is decidedly frenetic, with droves of enemies swarming me. I could battle them melee style but I could also often find guns lying around and blast away. Some attackers seemed almost impossible to take on without a gun, but if I was surrounded I would drop the weapon in favor of the more fluid, hands-on approach.

The game allows some dodging and rolling via the gamepad, although the PR flack didn’t mention that to me until I had finished with combat section, so I didn’t really get to check it out.

The puzzles I saw involved portals. There are round places on some walls that can be turned into portals to other round areas near, and while the puzzles that I saw weren’t difficult, they promised a certain amount of ingenuity. Getting around also involves Prince of Persia-style jumping and wall-running and the like.

I was very taken by the game’s dark, gothic, visual style. There are all sorts of cool touches; if you open a door with a key the key is turned by black, smoky, ghostly hands, and the game in general has a Grand Guignol quality that I quite like, with ornate architecture that made me think of Devil May Cry.

The gamepad, from what I saw, is mainly used for choosing various weapons and powers. It’s not a flashy way to use the controller, but it’s a good example of how much it streamlines the game experience to be able to quickly choose an item without having to bring up a menu. If the Wii U gamepad does nothing more than get rid of pause menus then it will still be worthwhile.

I began my demo with no expectations one way or the other about Darksiders II, but by demo’s end I was really excited about the game. For those who haven’t already played it on the 360 or PS3, which received the game in August, this is one you should check out when it arrives on Wii U launch day, November 18.

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