The Wii U GamePad functionality doesn't add to the overall experience
Graphical changes make some open areas bare
Lack of in-action dungeon maps on the GamePad is a missed opportunity
Darksiders II puts you in control of Death, a Horseman of the Apocalypse who sets out to prove the innocence of his brother War. Apparently, his bringing about the end times early and destroying the entire human race was a big no-no, so Death strives to set things right by beating the snot out of anyone he encounters. Death's quest to save his brother received high marks from the initial release Darksiders II review, and now the second Horseman rides to Nintendo's Wii U with additional functionality on the console's GamePad.
The core gameplay remains the same on the Wii U. You'll have to battle a variety of enemies (from angels to demons and everything in between) with the upgraded combat system from the original game, navigate dungeons, and snatch up piles of loot. The dungeons play a huge role in the sequel, forcing you into a mishmash of challenges in the form of platforming, puzzles, and intense boss battles. With the versatile combination of gameplay elements, Darksiders II is still an amazing action-adventure, but there have been a few notable changes for the Wii U console.
If you've haven't already played the game on the Xbox 360 or PS3, the Wii U version offers incentives to dive in on Nintendo's console. You'll receive every pre-order armor set and the Argul's Tomb DLC packed in, which is a nice bonus. Plus, there are a few additional menu options that use the GamePad's touch screen.
The first feature you'll notice is that an inventory screen and a quick-select abilities screen can be displayed on the GamePad. The abilities screen allows you to activate skills in combat and assign abilities to face buttons, while the inventory interface lets you equip armor, upgrade weapons, and drop stashed loot by tapping the on-screen buttons. However, the item icons are extremely small on both screens, making them more attuned to be selected using the stylus--so you may fumble with the controls if you prefer to use your fingers. Otherwise, the inventory is accessible through the normal pause menu.
The touch controls make it easier and faster to manage your inventory screen, but it's much easier to activate your combat skills with the traditional face buttons over the icons on the quick-select screen. Unfortunately, you won't be able to view the large dungeon maps or skill trees while in-game. Instead, you'll have to pause the game and navigate through the standard menus. It's a missed opportunity, since having the detailed dungeon maps sit on the GamePad screen while you play would've been incredibly helpful. There are also situations in which you can use the motion controls, like shaking the controller to spur your horse or tilting the GamePad during the boulder rolling puzzles, but none are really that fun or necessary. Overall, the GamePad doesn't add much to the experience, but it also doesn't hinder the game in any way, especially since all of the traditional menu navigation is intact.
Another noticeable change is that the visuals appear to have taken a slight dip in specific locations on the Wii U. Compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, there's a lack of detail in wide-open areas, like missing shrubbery and trees in the Forge Lands. However, in exchange for a few less trees, the draw distance for the detailed textures has been extended. Now the shadows and textures appear more detailed from afar instead of popping in at your feet like previous versions. It's a graphical give-and-take, but it's disappointing to see the open environments relatively bare on the Wii U.
Darksiders II on the Wii U port is an excellent way to experience Death's adventure. There haven't been any significant changes from the Xbox and PS3 versions. The combat is still thrilling, the dungeons are lengthy and challenging, and the loot hoarding is addictive. Even if the Wii U specific features don't particularly add to the overall experience, if you haven't played Darksiders II yet, you can't go wrong with picking up a copy for Nintendo's newest console.
Nov 18 2012 - Wii U
Blood and Gore,
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