Darksiders provides fun combat and an intriguing story, but is slowed down by long and tedious puzzle solving.
GAMEPLAY (7.5) - Although War was quite powerful during the first level of the game, he is stripped of the majority of his powers but thankfully as he progresses these powers will slowly return as he fights his way through an unending hoard of monsters and some huge boss fights. The comparisons to God of War can't be ignored. The combat is nearly identical. War will double jump, slowly falling back to the ground while hacking and slashing at enemies. Even though Darksiders does not bring anything new to combat, it's a healthy dose of mindless gaming action as War uses a variety of weapons and powers to dispatch anything and everything that gets in his way. He also has secondary weapons and upgrades which does make for some interesting combinations and battle options. Destroying enemies gives War their souls, which can then be used for upgrades to his weapons and abilities.
Darksiders is also full of puzzles, and in fact War will be spending considerably more time puzzle-solving than fighting. This can be either a good or bad thing depending on the player's tastes. War will obtain different items that he will have to put to good use to get through the various dungeons. These include a grappling hook, boomerang and even a gun that comes directly from the game Portal that creates both an orange entrance and blue exit portal. There are challenge rooms full of incendiary and sticky bombs that War will attach to breakable walls, fetch quests to locate keys or a series of levers that raise/lower platforms. Now there's nothing wrong with breaking up the combat with an occasional puzzle but this was simply used too much. In fact as the game goes on War will go through stretches where he will spend little to no time in combat as he works his way through larger and more tedious environmental puzzles. For a game full of monsters and weapons, this didn't feel right.
GRAPHICS (8.0) - The visual style is decent, but can't be compared with some other titles on the PlayStation 3. All of the characters, from the angels and demons, to bosses and War himself are colourfully presented in a comic book style. This is a nice change in the sense that a post-apocalyptic wasteland isn't just grey, and is instead full of vibrant, striking creatures of all shapes and sizes. However, the actual environments are somewhat uninteresting. The opening of the game is in a city, with War destroying both angels and demons. This was a great introduction and made the game look like it had some serious potential. As it progressed and War was transported one hundred years in the future, the world became a bit dull to look at with nothing interesting to look at.
AUDIO (8.5) - Darksiders has more than competent voice acting that creates believable characters. Mark Hamill voices The Watcher, a character sent by The Council to keep an eye on War, and he basically uses his Joker voice but it works well in the game. The musical score was quite good, conveying a sense of both doom and epic moments when appropriate.
VALUE (8.0) - It took over 21 hours to complete Darksiders, which is an impressive amount of time for an action game. However it has to be mentioned that less than 4 hours of this game time was spent in combat. Basically 80 percent of the time was spent either exploring or puzzle solving. There are a number of collectible items to be found, many of which can't be obtained until War picks up an item or ability later in the game, giving him a reason to go back to a completed level and go after a previously unreachable area. There is no multiplayer mode and really not any compelling reason to go back and play the game again.
SUMMARY - There were a number of things I enjoyed about Darksiders but unfortunately these were tempered by the designer's decision to devote the majority of the game to tedious puzzle-solving. Now as I mentioned earlier this can be a personal issue, as many people have given this game a high score and obviously either enjoyed or at least were not bothered by the small amount of time spent in combat. With that in mind gamers need to consider this if they are thinking about investing in this game. If they feel this isn't too much of an issue I'd recommend Darksiders because it is a well-made game with an interesting story and characters. The ending certainly hints at a sequel, and if it can be a bit more combat oriented I'll be very interested in returning to The Apocalypse.