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6 Reviews

Darksiders: Wrath of War

Nostradamus never saw this one coming...

There's one admin error in Heaven, and all of a sudden the apocalypse has arrived. Darksiders is THQ's take on the Book of Revelations, which is quite a terrifying thought in itself.

But what's really scary is that this third-person hack 'n' slash adventure defies its goofy concept to be actually rather good.
We're not going to waste time trying to explain the plot, as it really doesn't make that much sense.

All you need to know is that War, the second Horseman of the Apocalypse has been framed for kicking off Armageddon 1,000 years too early. Cue a second war in Heaven and all sorts of gory deaths, most of which are instigated by you.

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It's laughable stuff, and the bright and cheerful art style doesn't really complement the extreme gore all that well. Darksiders' colourful characters wouldn't look out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon. And for a game loosely based on the Bible, there's a strange lack of religious imagery. It's a very different approach from the similarly themed Dante's Inferno.

Soul man
War lives up to his name, despite looking like he'd be more at home in World of Warcraft. He's a tough cookie thanks to an endlessly extendible combo system with nearly a hundred upgrades.

Defeated enemies drop 'soul' energy that can be spent upgrading your techniques and weapon damage. There are three weapons available, the basic sword, a slow but damaging scythe and a gauntlet with a spindly demon living inside it.
There's enough variety when it comes to combos that you don't find yourself having to use the same moves over and over.

However, we did find that the basic air-juggle is probably the most effective move in the game. Hardly any of the enemy grunts can block it, and it deals enough damage to kill most of them with just a couple of repetitions.

This is a bit of a shame, because the enemies look so wild and varied that you'd imagine different techniques would be needed to beat them. In reality, the air juggle vanquishes everything but the larger, heavy-duty enemies with ease.

Even the larger foes can be quite easy to read. They always telegraph their attacks, giving you plenty of time to evade. The biggest challenge in Darksiders is when you're mobbed by both large and small enemies, which forces you to mix things up a little more.

The camera lock-on works extremely well during melee combat. Holding down the Right trigger targets the nearest foe and the camera adopts the best possible view of the action. It occasionally clips through other enemies, but is still the most reliable lock-on we've seen for a long time.

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On those rare occasions where you're under duress, there's usually the get-out clause of your super-destructive 'Chaos Form'. Once you've filled the chaos meter by defeating foes, you can instantly transform into a fire-breathing devil. He looks like a distant cousin to The Lord of the Rings' Balrog, but even bigger and meaner.

War lives up to his name in such a way that there's plenty of blood flying, but not enough actual tension. The only moments with any significant drama are when you're facing off with the gigantic and very impressive-looking end of level bosses. Here, the game pays tribute to The Legend of Zelda by forcing you to use the environment, or a recently acquired skill to defeat them.

Hell's kitchen
Darksiders' game world consists of a hub, based in a derelict human city, which branches off into a selection of strangely cheerful-looking underworlds. The beginning of the game couldn't be described as 'free-roaming' because the underworlds have to be completed in a set order. The abilities you find in one region are a prerequisite for accessing the next one.

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