Game reviews: Darksiders II and WWE 2K16
An unoriginal if fun reworking of hack-and-slash sequel and an original take on wrestling
Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition
"Deathinitive", really? What monkey came up with that subtitle? We missed Darksiders II when it was first released back in summer 2012, so that was our immediate reaction when recoiling in horror from the game’s cover. But after a couple of hours in its highly derivative world, it kind of all made sense.
Full disclosure: Darksiders II might be the most unoriginal game ever. Heavily borrowing elements from such inspired games as God of War, Zelda, Prince of Persia, Devil May Cry and Kingdom Hearts, the game never comes close to matching the heights of anything it appropriates. But it doesn’t have to.
There’s some kind of story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and how Death has to clear his brother War’s name or something. It doesn’t matter, though. Darksiders is all about the hack and slash – the endless number of enemies that you destroy with well-timed combos of fast-moving primary weapon and slow but powerful secondary. There’s little to no strategy involved, and all that pent-up aggression just fades away as you slaughter masses upon masses of bad guys.
When that gets boring, and it does pretty quick, RPG-like sandbox elements have been thrown in the mix. There’s a massive map to explore, featuring endless exploration for treasure, loot and more enemies to kill. There’s also supposed challenges, but they’re incredibly repetitive, not to mention endlessly tedious. Climbing ledges, rolling balls, solving same-same puzzles, and fetches. Lots and lots of fetches. Seriously, the entire game is almost one massive fetch quest.
This update for the PS4 and Xbox One is loaded with extra content, including heaps of DLC, as well as an impressive graphical bump up to 1,080p and 60fps. It looks great, we’ll give it that, and as for the extra content, we’ll say that it’ll test your completest nature to the fullest.
Despite all the negativity, we’ll admit that we had fun playing Darksiders II, even if we barely scratched the Deathinitive aspects of the game. If you’re a fan of any of those previously mentioned series, and are dying for a fresh face on old thrills, give it a whirl.
Professional wrestling is a funny one: here’s a so-called sport that built its world on theatricality, on the showmanship of its acrobatic performers acting out massive fantasies of gladiatorial duels and overly dramatic contests. Aside from the occasional unfortunate mishap, no one is ever injured and it’s all tightly stage-managed.
So how do you translate that all to the video game world? For 2KSports, the answer had long been arcade-style: opponents pummelling each other through endless button mashes until one of them falls. But coupled with last year’s ambitious if somewhat maligned attempt at realism, 2K16 sees them boldly going down a simulation route that works surprisingly well.
Available for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, 2K16 takes a strangely sensible approach to an often ridiculous pastime. Like Olympic-style wrestling or the increasingly popular UFC, reversals take centre stage as your struggle of choice, a slowly replenishing resource that is the ideal ace up the sleeve when the chips are down.
In addition to that key feature, are a host of well-timed options that take equal measure speed and skill to follow through: working holds that allow you to take advantage of winded opponents, chain wrestling to build up impressive combinations, and such breath catching moves as escape rolling and distractions.
And then there’s the theatricality, the TV broadcast openings, the gushing commentary, the wrestlers with their uniquely preposterous moves – it’s all recreated and refined in beautiful idiot box glory, ramped up for the virtual world for true fans. They’ll also appreciate the bolstered roster, a heaving roll call of more than 120 male and female fighters, alongside nearly every match type that was banished in last year’s strange culling. In short, it’s the complete package and just the kind of thing spotty kids and their forced friends can enjoy in equal measure.
For anyone over the age of 12 and not stilted by man-child syndrome, there’s still something ridiculous about the hammy nature of professional wrestling. Props to 2KSports for infusing its video game counterpart with a much-needed sense of challenge, and while you’ll never catch us falling for the chauvinistic joys of the "real thing", you might find us sneaking in a quick virtual round or two.