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Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Vigil Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Darksiders is a game that starts off feeling like another God of War clone, but it isn't long before its depths are revealed and the game ends up becoming a much more deep action-RPG more in the vein of The Legend of Zelda. Because of this hidden depth, the game ends up being a great and surprising experience.

Darksiders does a superb job of portraying a world a century after the apocalypse filled with modern cities turned to ruin, walking dead and demons of Hell. Major characters like War (your character), Samael, a demon that wants to help you on your journey and The Watcher (War's equivalent to Link's Navi) all look great, and what's better is that they all sound awesome to boot.

War is voiced by Liam O'Brien (best known as Gaara from Naruto), whose husky deep voice just sounds perfect, while The Watcher is none other than Mark Hamil, who uses a Joker-like voice to direct War in a much better way than the constant high-pitched "Hey" that followed Link around. The game's background music also boosts the feel of the game with an epic-feeling soundtrack.

Darksiders puts you in control of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War to be exact, who has been tricked into starting the final battle between Heaven and Hell. When the dust settles from the fight that leaves all of mankind in ruin, his masters punish him to walk the Earth with his powers stripped and with an annoying creature known as The Watcher attached to his hip to make sure he stays in line.

War doesn't take his demotion lying down though, as he decides to take this opportunity to find out exactly what happened, get his powers back and take down who ever is really responsible for the destruction of the Third Kingdom (mankind).

At the opening of Darksiders, War has all of his powers. Besides having tons of life and wrath (AKA magic), he also has the ability to turn into a massive fighting machine once he has dealt enough damage to fill up a power meter. This little taste of War's true potential is exactly what you need to push forward in the game as you slowly rebuild these powers and abilities (not to mention a few new powers) as you defeat major demonic creatures in the post-apocalyptic world.

Darksiders has quite a few tough moments, but there really isn't anything here that experienced gamers should have trouble getting past. While there are quite a few difficult bosses (both mini and end-level) that will take a few attempts to get past, these events are spaced out far enough to never make you feel too held back when you reach a particularly stubborn area. There is a noticeable difference in the amount of damage you take with each hit on the game's three difficulty settings, and while I still found the hardest level manageable, I found the mid-setting to be my personal sweet spot.

All that being said, the key to making sure you don't die too often in Darksiders, and similar games, is to explore. Each area of the world is filled with tons of hidden chests that will either give you new slotted bonuses (items like dealing more damage with a weapon or building up wrath quicker) or more health and wrath pieces (think pieces of hearts from Zelda). While exploring the world will grant you a ton of these trinkets, there is also a good bit of doubling back as you gain new items that will get you past old obstacles and open new areas to the world. It's finding all these spots and getting all the upgrades you can before going into a new dungeon that will keep your health gauge in the black.

Game Mechanics:
While the basic combat of Darksiders appears to be nothing more than hack-and-slash fun, the variety of items, slotted bonuses that can be assigned to your weapons, and similar aspects to the game give it a much deeper RPG feel. While the game doesn't approach its RPG nature in a leveling up and assigning attribute-points manner, it does increase your character's capabilities by providing new items at regular intervals that will grant you access to new areas of the world to increase your stats in other manners (i.e. pieces of life and wrath stones). This approach to leveling up makes it much more appealing to gamers who don't like the tweaking nature of more traditional RPGs and enjoy more action-oriented games. It really is hard not to look at Darksiders and compare it to the Zelda series since it takes a lot of what is good about that line's gameplay style and mechanics and puts it into a darker and more adult setting - more adult in that the topic is darker and there is a noticeable amount of blood, but there isn't anything in the way of nudity or sexuality in Darksiders.

Because of the more dark theme of the game, Darksiders is definitely not recommended for younger gamers, but for those that can handle the desolate future this game predicts, it is a fun experience that is sure to please pretty much anyone out there. Darksiders comes very highly recommended.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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