As far as the battles go, Darksiders II has made vast improvements to the overall combat system. Death’s moves are much more varied and exciting than his burly brother War, and pulling off combos remains simple with intuitive, short combo strings. Death uses his scythes along with one alternate weapon which can range from speedy claws to massive hammers and maces. Alternating between your two weapons creates devastating combos that are incredibly satisfying to pull off.
Extremely powerful special abilities can also be used in combat. Killing enemies earns Death skill points, which can be assigned to either of the Harbinger or Necromancer skill trees. The Harbinger skills center on powerful, area-of-effect melee attacks, while the Necromancer tree provides ranged summons. Combining the special abilities with the standard attacks creates a combat system with a ton of options. You can stay at a distance casting spells, jump into the fray with scythes in hand, pummel enemies with massive hammers, or combine them all. Every choice is a viable option and each is a blast to play with.
No adventure would be complete without huge monsters to fight, and Darksiders II has plenty. The massive bosses - ranging from a twenty story tall stone colossus to a giant, flaming bat - present a thrilling challenge at the end of each dungeon - often requiring you to memorize attack patterns or expose a weak point by using a recently acquired item. Once you blow off a limb with the Darksiders version of a bomb flower or rend a kneecap, Death is free to unleash his fury – transforming to his ominous Reaper form to deliver the coup de grace.
Darksiders II isn’t without its hang-ups, though. At any time, you have access to the fast-travel system, which gives you nearly instant access to any previously visited point on the world map, and that’s good. The only problem is you’re required to use it in specific instances, like after defeating a boss. Rather than stepping into a portal that whisks you back to the Dungeon entrance and back on track, you have to fiddle with the map and fast travel feature. Also, players lacking space on their Xbox 360 console’s hard drive will be disappointed in the game’s performance without the seven gig install. Load times and the frame rate suffer in some areas resulting in significant stuttering.
Darksiders II improves upon its predecessor in almost every way. The combat is deep and satisfying, the exploration and loot elements are incredibly addictive, and the dungeons provide a near perfect amount of challenge and consistency to keep you playing to the end. If you’re looking for an expansive adventure with an interesting story, massive world and robust combat, Death has come for you.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.