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Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games, RPG

On Dec 10th THQ and Developers Vigil invited us to Westlake village right near Santa Monica. The event was to showcase their new game Darksiders. With its release just weeks away about 30 press members were brought in to get a complete hands on of the game.

Once at the hotel, and in my room, I could see that THQ and Vigil had set-up a 42 inch flat screen with a copy of the game running on a PS3 to dive into. Each of the rooms earmarked for the event had this set-up, although some members had the Xbox 360 version running in their rooms. In front of the TV was a Darksiders book, and limited edition figurine of “War”, the character gamers will be using to assuage the heaven and hell battle. I stretched out on the huge bed and quickly started this epic adventure.

The story is such that War, the main character of the game, is deceived by the forces of evil into prematurely bringing about the end of the world. Because of this War – the first Horseman of the Apocalypse – stands accused of breaking the sacred law by inciting a war between Heaven and Hell. Dishonoured and stripped of his powers, War must return to Earth to search for the truth and punish those responsible. Hunted by a vengeful group of Angels, War must take on the forces of Hell; forge uneasy alliances with the very demons he hunts, and journey across the ravaged remains of the Earth on his quest for vindication. But the answers he seeks will reveal a deep conspiracy in which War is just a pawn in the eternal battle between Heaven and Hell.

I originally had the chance to see the game at E3 this past May, and I put it on my notable list as one game to look for in the future. Even at the early stage in June I noticed how good the game looked, moved, and flowed. The game was also voted as one of E3’s best new IP’s.

In the day and half I was there I managed to play for just over 5 hours in total, died 8 times and got seriously stuck 7 times. The game is fairly linear in nature although you can go back at anytime to try and find things you’ve missed. War is a shadow of his old self and he will have to make deals with various demons to recover his original strengths in order to be able to do certain tasks. This of course is not free as War must complete tasks to move on. One thing I noticed was the huge bosses and sub-bosses you have to fight. Most of them are massive and require some thinking before they can be dispatched. The game has also some very RPG like gameplay elements as you are required to find certain items for rewards. You can also use the souls that you collect to upgrade various weapons and attacks. I’ll be more thorough about how to level up in my review of the game when it hits early late December or early January.

The THQ and Vigil team held a media breakfast if you will, in one of the hotels many banquet rooms. Here we got a chance to meet various people that worked on the game as well as meet of the other press in attendance. The food laid out was incredible, and I stuffed my face the entire time. There was a short Q and A session with some of the Vigil people, answering various questions about the game. I happened to get some one-one time with the lead developer David Adams. We had a brief chat about the game and his history in general. David told me that Darksiders has been in development for about five years with an original team of about five people. He and Joe Madureria (lead Art/co-creator) came up with the idea of making a game from the story of the Four Horsemen. THQ also loved the idea and started working with Vigil shortly after much hounding on David and Joe’s part to see the game come to life. I asked him about the direct comparisons to games like God of War and Devil May Cry. He said they are great comparisons and he loved that people see this, though he fully believes that their product looks and plays so well as its own game. David also noted that Darksiders has a more RPG feel to it than the other games which would one will flesh out as they get deeper into it. I had to agree with him on that point after some personal playtime with the game. There are areas where you must collect, upgrade, replace, and do many other different things that make this game stand out on its own in terms of gameplay.

Since I like the technical side of games I had to ask David about the numbers on the consoles. His preference is for the Xbox 360 as a development platform, and he is an avid 360 gamer. He noted that the two machines do very well in terms of running the game, but it was ported after the 360 to the PS3. I got to play with both versions of the game, and after much thought tip the hat in favour to the 360, but only ever so slightly.

Darksiders’ play length is about 15-20 hours with, as I mentioned before, a fairly linear path, although David did say that you must backtrack numerous times to find other areas and items of interest as they are somewhat hidden and inaccessible early on in the game. There are currently no plans for any DLC or expansions, but the idea hasn’t been ruled out. David and company are already hard at work on a new unannounced IP. David comes across as a very eclectic and thoughtful guy, and has a real passion for games. He eluded he plays games for all platforms and loves all kinds of movies and music. At the time of the interview he was just about to finish off Borderlands with his son, good luck David!

In closing I must say a wholehearted thank you to all the THQ crew (especially Tyrone who got the ball rolling) for their help and generosity and allowing us to come down and have a fantastic time with their new game. I also must thank David and the Vigil crew for opening up their baby for us to critique, and at this point I think the game really is awesome! I really enjoyed my time with Darksiders which should be on every gamers list to check out. I’ll have an in-depth review of Darksiders after I’ve delved deeper into it a couple of weeks.

Frank N


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