One of the relatively few new game announcements here at E3 was THQ's Darksiders, an upcoming action adventure game for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It has one of the more interesting settings we've seen in a game in a while, but the gameplay should be fairly familiar to fans of modern action games.
Darksiders is subtitled Wrath of War, which doesn't make much sense until you learn that you play as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The game apparently starts as you and your cohorts are in the middle of destroying the world, with Famine, Death, and Pestilence also helping you kill off every last remaining human on the planet. Most games would probably throw in a twist that resulted in the salvation of mankind, but we're told that you actually manage to succeed in your objective within the first half-hour or so of gameplay, resulting in a world where no humans exist, but instead where demons and fallen angels battle amid the ruins.
After a betrayal by the powers that be, War is set loose on Earth and stripped of most of his powers. Since the fallen angels and demons are still fighting, you'll have to battle both sides and attempt to regain your powers. The developers at Vigil Games aren't currently saying what your ultimate goal is, but we imagine we'll find out more in the future, since the game isn't expected to ship until late 2008. As far as the actual gameplay goes, the most obvious reference is to God of War, and not just because you play a character named War. The game apparently places a good amount of importance on the fluid animations that God of War is known for, and many of the movements of War are immediately reminiscent of Kratos' own methods of battling enemies, with one of War's attack animations even including a pregnant pause while he holds a sword above his head before it crashes to the ground. Also included are button-pressing games that will shuffle you through a preset attack on large enemies according to how well you can hit buttons that pop up on your screen. Enemies that you kill also drop souls that you need to suck in; these act as your currency for upgrades.
Apart from the basic action, though, the game reportedly takes on some influences from the free-form adventures in Zelda and Metroid. While you will need to make progress in the game, you'll also be capable of freely backtracking to any area that you've already passed through. As you regain your lost powers, though, War will shift visually from a relatively plain (if robotic-looking) individual to a true engine of destruction. Eventually you'll also be able to regain your lost mount (you are a horseman, remember?); we're told it will not only be good for movement but will also enable you to significantly upgrade your combat abilities while you ride.
Another way in which the game is tied back into older adventure games is the way in which the weapons and inventory are used. As in Metroid, you will periodically come across paths that are unpassable until you find a new weapon or gear item to use. One of these gear items is a tractor-beam-like attachment to your arm that will let you pull items toward you and then throw them at your enemies. We're also told that you'll find some iconic weapons that will have their own special abilities, such as Death's scythe.
Darksiders is looking like it should be an excellent next-gen action game for fans of intense God of War-like action. We don't know much about the game at the moment, but it's looking surprisingly smooth even this early in development. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on Darksiders in the future; it's currently slated for a tentative release at the end of 2008.