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Darksiders 2: More Prince of Persia, less God of War

Why THQ's bruiser might finally get the attention it deserves...

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EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
At this point Vigil takes the opportunity to emphasise that all cut-scenes are in-engine and in real time. This isn't meant to be a boast of its visual prowess, it's a tease of the effect the new loot system will have on the way Death looks. Although Death starts off quite plain looking, enemies drop loot when killed so player's can equip new bits of armour and weapons, which are reflected on the Death's character model.

While we're on the subject of visuals it's worth mentioning that from what we've seen so far Darksiders 2 won't be a huge visual leap, since it seems to run on a modified version of the same engine. But that doesn't mean it looks bad; the game's retained the same colourful, comic book-inspired art-style from the original and Joe Mad's character designs have a chunky super-hero-esque level of coolness that usually only Blizzard can pull off.

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The ship serves as a playground to show off Death's maneuverability, which compared to his brother makes him a much scrappier character in both combat and traversal. Less Kratos and more Prince of Persia. His agility allows him to scurry up walls, which means he's able to navigate vertical walls with ease, while War would have had to find a higher area and glide down.

Reaching the side of the ship we find our progress halted by a rather lag gap, and since we're cruising through the skies one wrong move would see even a horseman of the apocalypse reduced to a stain on the dusty ground.

Fortunately Death is in possession of an item called the 'Ghost Hook', which functions in the same way as War's Abyssal Chain in that it can be used to swing over large gaps. Leaping off the platform Death quickly attaches himself to beams sticking out the side of the ship, traveling between them and landing safely on the other side.

Most of Death's abilities are available to him from the start. This means Vigil can stick to the Metroidvania formula which usually involves quite a bit of backtracking but make it much easier and fun to get around.

After swinging, scarpering and shimmying our way to the top of the vessel we find that the flying fortress is also a town. Darksiders 2 is built up of four major zones and Vigil promises that like all good towns each will have NPCs flogging items, dishing out quests and providing nuggets of information and back story on the world. Apparently each zone will also feature as much dungeon content as the entirety of the first game. Ambitious stuff.

GAME OF THRONES
Making our way to the throne room we're greeted by a hooded, frost-white figure standing between us and his master, who sits on his throne immobile in a stasis-like trance. While War was a chess piece trying to figure out his place on the board, Death's knows his objectives and comes across as much more of an assertive, driven character because of it. He demands to speak with the Lord and after a bit of verbal jousting with the demonic minder is told the Lord of Bones' body sits vacant while he attends to his realm, a place beyond even the eyes of the horsemen of the apocalypse.

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"Nothing is impossible", Death interjects, forcing the servant to reveal the existence of the Gilded Arena, a battleground where mortals are given a chance at earning their freedom as well as an audience with The Lord of Bones. All that's required is the head of the champion, and with that we're whisked away, magically transported to the entrance to the arena.

The first Darksiders had a very linear structure, although it required players to backtrack and explore a number of hidden areas it was always in service of the main quest. For the sequel Vigil says it's loaded the game with optional side-quests, each with a unique dungeon created specifically for it, so you won't be seeing the same places over and over again a la Dragon Age 2.

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