The Good Fluid, colorful action that evolves over timeClever, progressively more challenging environmental puzzlesAllure of new, cool loot pushes you onwardExpansive adventure, with lots of dungeons to exploreGreat audiovisual presentation sets the right apocalyptic tone
The Bad Some performance and technical issuesNo proper visual customization optionsDisappointing bosses, especially the final boss
The Bottom Line Darksiders II merges action, exploration, and loot-driven progression into an excellent and sizable adventure.
Darksiders II (PC)
First comes War; then comes Death. Appropriately enough, Darksiders II turns its eyes from its predecessor's protagonist to a new one: Death himself, War's brother and one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. His story plays out over the same time period as War's, but Darksiders II's narrative isn't so much about plot as it is about place and tone. The original Darksiders set a darkly fantastical mood, but the sequel hones its edges. The armor is still chunky and the sound of steel on steel still rings across battle arenas, but the skies are more ominous, the shadows grimmer, and the architecture sharper, as if every spire threatens to puncture the heavens and make them bleed.
If you're playing on the PC, unfortunately, you must overcome some minor but annoying obstacles as you flex Death's sizable muscles. As with the original Darksiders, Darksiders II features few visual sliders, and the game looks more or less like its console counterpart, without any of the bells and whistles you'd expect to see in a modern PC game. (You can't even adjust the resolution until you have started the game.) Even with v-sync turned on, you might still notice some screen tearing. The missteps aren't just visual, however: the option to send weapons or armor to residents of your Steam friends list is nonfunctional as of this writing.
In spite of the technical missteps, Darksiders II still draws you in, though not by narrative, in spite of its characters' frequent and raspy soliloquizing. Rather, it uses sights and sounds to impress upon you the importance of your deeds. While one level harks back to the angels-versus-demons, Christian apocalypse themes of the original game, Darksiders II springs forth from a more inventive vision. The dusky dungeons and desert expanses are more diverse than before, and the character designs are more imaginative, as if they've wandered in from biblical legends you've never heard. The characters you meet--undead rulers and impossibly proportioned behemoths among them--speak with humorless gravity, and Death often responds with a sneer and a verbal challenge.