Darksiders: Wrath of War - hands-on

Pacifists look away! We’re going to war

This is where War’s ridiculously large glaive comes into play. By simply clicking the right thumbstick you can slip into free-aim mode and then target multiple objects by pointing at them, tapping the left trigger and firing with the right. Once inside the dungeons, the action switches to solving more riddles such as the usual locked doors and pathways blocked by overgrown Hell-growth – a kind of living mould that can be only destroyed by throwing handfuls of the stuff at barred doorways. Think of it as a living, combustible fungus.

When we did finally reach the demo’s boss, it was actually quite an easy fight. Randhawa assured us that the difficulty had been toned down for the purpose of our hands-on. The boss, a grotesque two-story ogre-like creature called The Jailer comes at you deep in the dungeons with huge prison cages for hands. When he smashes these down, they send waves of multiple enemies scuttling out at you. His weak spot, an enormous bulbous mass of three glowing sores on his shoulder, needs to be sliced with your glaive in three simultaneous hits before you can get close to his gut and take potshots at the real enemy – a much smaller, skinny ghoul hidden in his guts that pops out every time you manage to down the big fella. Once you’ve beaten him, a quick-time prompt flashes up onscreen that triggers a gloriously gory moment where the victorious War coolly slices off The Jailer’s flailing arms, climbs up on to his belly and skewers the smaller ghoul hidden inside as it tries in vain to revive the beaten beast.

Darksiders will aim to offer some new gameplay devices to sit next to the array of big swords, combo-heavy death blows and armies of uglies to slaughter. One such addition will be The Watcher – a piece of living equipment that’s set to be added to War’s arm. “The Watcher works for the Charred Council – who obviously didn’t want to send you down alone – and he acts like a binding device in the game because he’s got power. He’ll also handily materialize if you get stuck and will prompt you where to go during the game too,” explains Randhawa.

With 2009 pegged as the year Kratos bows in on PS3 – and destroys anyone who dares cross his path – Darksiders has certainly got some very tough competition. But with a whole year left in the development cycle (possibly longer), there’s still a long way to go and reams more features still to be added.

Our trip to the darkside of gaming was a real blast and it left us with the feeling that this is certainly not going to be a solo gaming effort if Darksiders is a success (Randhawa hinted that there was still more story to tell). The experience suggested that Kratos may have some stiff competition for the War God Crown come Christmas 2009. Ancient Greek bodybuilder or the ultimate Biblical bad boy? Who will you be betting on?

Sep 2, 2008