Darksiders II Steven McGehee Hot

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Written by Steven McGehee     November 24, 2012    
 
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Release Date
November 18, 2012
MSRP $
59.99
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Darksiders II thoroughly impressed me just three months ago when I reviewed it for the PS3, but playing it again on the Wii U has been even more enjoyable thanks to smart Gamepad integration.

For some reason it seems like Darksiders II came out more than just three months ago, but regardless of when, I loved it. Instead of recycling everything I said in my original review, I'm going to focus instead on what the Wii U version brings to the table. For starters, you can't ignore the Gamepad. Nintendo is practically marketing the controller more than the system, and it's interesting to see how different developers are choosing to use it for their own games, ports or new games altogether. With Darksiders II, the obvious way to use it would be for inventory management, which is exactly what Vigil Games did, and then some. The Gamepad can also be setup to be your only source of visuals or audio too. At anytime from the Pause Menu, you can configure Darksiders II to use the display and or audio of your gamepad and TV. This means that you can put all video and audio on the Gamepad, split the video between the Gamepad and TV, or have the audio and visual shared between the two. Note that if you select to disable the Audio from the TV, the Display will also turn off.

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I found the best way to play was to enable audio and video on both, but if for whatever reason you decide to play exclusively on the Gamepad, the experience certainly isn't bad. I did notice some screen tearing on the Gamepad however, something I was able to reproduce by running in circles with the camera pointed low in the scene with the Frostbone Titan, for example. There were also some very minor graphical hiccups on the TV as well, although possibly coinciding with an autosave being created. Another point that could just be my setup was that when the Gamepad and the TV showed the same image, the colors between the two weren't quite matched. On the logo or title screen for example, the purple color of the 'II' was much deeper and purple-looking on the TV than the Gamepad which looked almost blue. This could just be my settings on either the TV, game, or Gamepad, though, and in actual play, none of the colors seemed 'off.' I'd point out as well that when you play with full video and audio to both sources, the 'near' sounds of the game are played on the Gamepad, while the (excellent) soundtrack and some other sounds will come from the TV. So when Death speaks, grunts (in evading or fighting) or rustles the terrain around him, that all comes from the Gamepad. When an NPC speaks to Death, that will come from the TV. I thought it was a sensible and well balanced setup.

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All that said, no matter how you play Darksiders II on the Wii U, you're in for a hell of a good time. For someone like me coming off of the PS3 version though, and really for newcomers as well, the best way to play is to keep that Gamepad on as your constant companion. It serves multiple functions that are all controlled independently of what's going on in the game. Whereas with previous versions of the game you had to Pause to access inventory, check quests, or look at the full map, the Gamepad has all of that for you, ready to go. You can literally switch weapons, armor, and cast abilities all without having to pause or even stop moving in game. You can also press a button on the Gamepad to bring up a full sized map that you can move around with your finger. I just wish you could disable the mini-map on the TV to have a fully, HUD-free experience, but this is something that just maybe they will patch in. That said, the only way to see the full stats of your character is to press Select to pause the game. It would have been cool if Vigil were to fit the full stats, and the animation of Death on the Gamepad, but as of right now you have to hit Select. It's not a big deal, but just something I noticed. As it stands, you can see your Level and amount of Gold, which isn't bad. Lastly, the only function on the Gamepad that pauses the action on screen is when you press the World Map button, which is used to Fast Travel between different hubs.

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Another key difference with Darksiders II for the Wii U is that it comes loaded with bonus content and DLC already on the disc. Most noticeably is the DLC pack "Argul's Tomb," which adds somewhere around four hours of additional play, depending on how fast and skilled you are. Argul's Tomb is comprised of three new dungeons that make heavy use of the Voidwalker to create Portal and Prince of Persia like platforming puzzles. There are also two bosses within to challenge you. Argul, as Ostegoth from the main campaign will tell you before you begin, predates and was also betrayed by the Lord of Bones who you may recall from the City of the Dead from the main campaign. Ostegoth explains there is a mystery surrounding Argul's Tomb, as being the avid trader he is, offers you a special prize should you unravel it. It's cool that you can not only start Argul's Tomb from the Campaigns menu, but its savegames are independent of the main campaign, so there is no concern about accidentally overwriting your progress in either adventure.

Additionally, the Wii U version includes the Death Rides Pack (three new side quests in the main campaign), Angel of Death and Shadow of Death packs (new legendary weapon and armor available early in the campaign), Deadly Despair pack (increased speed for Despair, your horse), and other legendary gear. As for the presentation, I mentioned some minor screen tearing issues earlier, but other than that it's just as good as the PS3 or 360 version in terms of texture detail, framerate, animations, and so forth. The soundtrack is still awesome as I found it to be back in August, and while Death's voice has grown on me slightly, eh, it's still not as dark as I would imagine it to be. Minor complaint aside, the presentation on the Wii U is solid.

To the summary...

Editor reviews

An excellent game made even better, the Wii U version of Darksiders II is the one to own.
Overall rating 
 
9.6
Gameplay 
 
9.0
Presentation 
 
9.0
Value  
 
10.0
Fun Factor 
 
10.0
Tilt 
 
10.0
Steven McGehee Reviewed by Steven McGehee November 24, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (896)

Darksiders II

An excellent game made even better, the Wii U version of Darksiders II is the one to own.

Videogames

Gameplay
An excellent open world action RPG with a great story, characters, and numerous interesting quests and dungeons to explore. A continual stream of new gameplay elements and mechanics keeps things fresh and for the Wii U version, having the Gamepad as your companion makes the experience more immersive and fluid. Easily one of the very best Wii U games available now.
Presentation
Some minor screen tearing, more noticeable to me on the Gamepad than the TV, but it's nothing game-breaking for sure. Otherwise, great visual and animations, lots of details especially on the characters, and the soundtrack is epic.
Value
If it weren't already out on other consoles, this would honestly be a system seller as far as I'm concerned. As is, you still get the excellent game plus Argul's Tomb plus several other smaller DLC packs. It's a very long game with excellent new game + replay-ability so there's no question you are getting a great bang for the buck ratio here.
Fun Factor
I thoroughly enjoy the Darksiders universe, be it the original from 2009 or this latest one. It's quickly becoming my favorite current-gen franchise for engaging, dark fantasy action RPG.
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