Tag Archive: darksiders

Nation of Abomination

Many major gaming franchises have found numerous ways to break out of their digital worlds and continue to permeate the pop culture between game releases. This cross-medium promotion helps franchises like Halo, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, and many more stay relevant while also expanding on the fiction started in games.

Another of these franchises is Darksiders, which had a comic book one-shot around the release of their first game. With Darksiders II just around the corner though, author Ari Marmell brings us a lot more words and pages (no pictures though) depicting the Darksiders universe in the new novel Darksiders: The Abomination Vault.

The main plot of the book revolves around Death who has just returned from exile for some unknown reasons and the secrets that he has kept hidden for millennia, back when his kind were a dominant, realm conquering species. Only with the help of key angel allies and his brother War can Death hope to keep these secrets safe from those would use them to pick up where Death’s people left off and once again bring pain and suffering to all beings in existence.

If you are a fan of the Darksiders game, this book does a tremendous job of laying a foundation for Death before you get a chance to play as him in Darksiders II. You learn about Death’s personality, his powers, and the lengths he is willing to go to reach his objectives. You also appreciate the brotherly rivalry he has with War as the two play off each other’s strengths in and out of battle very well and very often and it strongly establishes their relationship before you see Death go to battle for his brother in the upcoming game.

But this book isn’t just about building hype up about the game as it stands up as a wonderfully action-packed tale all on its own. The descriptions of the battles that take place and the sinister villains who rise up to face-off against Death and War are brilliant and fans of this kind of fantasy will not be able to put the book down as the pacing is intense and adrenaline fueled.

The only real downside I felt from this book is that there are four horsemen and although it was nice this book wasn’t a Death only adventure, what with War playing an integral part, I would have enjoyed more interaction with Fury and Strife, the other two horsemen in the Darksiders universe who really only had small cameos. Their descriptions were intriguing and their personalities were definitely different enough from War and Death to make them stand up on their own, so for them to never really factor into this grand, realm threatening adventure was disappointing.

All in all though, fans of Darksiders should blow through the 351 pages this book entails in no time once it becomes available July 24th as it’ll serve as a tantalizing appetizer to Darksiders II in August. If you have $15 to spare, this book is definitely a fun and enjoyable read and should be considered if you’re looking for a new fantasy book to pick up.

SCORE: 9.0

Originally Published: January 15, 2010, on Lundberg.me and SportsRev.TV

This week I gave an editorial on the Leno/Conan Late Night War, reviewed Batman: The Widening Gyre #4 (of 6) from Jersey’s own Kevin Smith, reviewed the new video game Darksiders from Vigil Games for Xbox 360 and PS3, and provided my newest Hot Chick Pick of the Week, Adiya Mastrangelo from NYC!

Originally Published: January 13, 2010, on 1050espn.com (Now ESPNNewYork.com) and Lundberg.me

Often when something works, and works well, it will have imitators and copycats come out of the woodwork and try to capitalize on the splash made by the original. This is especially true in the media world and in video games. The hottest trend right now is an oldie but goodie: the portrayal of the possibility of a coming apocalypse, an Armageddon. There are different spins put on it from heaven vs. hell, man vs. the supernatural, or some seemingly omnipotent being needing to be stopped from wreaking havoc, but in the end it all comes down to the same basic concept. In the first quarter of 2010, we have three such games coming out with this basic theme: God of War 3, Dante’s Inferno and Darksiders with the original God of War series being the base concept.

Just because all these games may be similar in theme and execution, does not mean that they all can’t be good. In fact, sometimes the imitators will surpass the original and blow the concept out of the water. The first of these three games released, Darksiders, might do just that.

Darksiders begins with hell on Earth erupting as the balance between heaven, hell, and Earth has been disrupted and Armageddon has been triggered early. You play as War, one of the four mythical horsemen who mark the coming of the end of days, and immediately know something is awry as your fellow horsemen have not appeared. As you move through city streets, trying to find the source of the disruption as angels and demons alike fight overhead, you come upon Straga, one of the most powerful demons to emerge from hell and watch as one of the leaders of the angels, Abaddon, is swallowed up like an appetizer for the things to come. You fight the demon, but like Abaddon, fall to the unparalleled might of this hellish monstrosity.

A century then passes as hell has consumed the Earth and the human race has been wiped out. You have been imprisoned for all this time in the depths of hell by The Council, an ancient race of beings whose sole purpose is to maintain the balance that you have been blamed for disrupting. Finally, the Council relents to your pleas to send you back to clear your name. They concede, but they pair you with a high level demon called a Watcher (played brilliantly by Mark Hamill), to make sure you will do the Council’s bidding, and find out how, and more importantly, who caused the end of days before it was destined to.

Thus begins the story of Darksiders, a tale of redemption as you unravel a conspiracy that could invoke the wrath of a god.

Even with the overplayed theme, Darksiders is brilliantly executed. A combination of The Legend of Zelda and God of War series, the game is packed with both original characters, like Vulgrim the Soul Merchant, with whom you exchange the souls of your fallen foes for new weapons and fighting techniques, and those based in scripture like Azrael, the Angel of Death. Add in tons of actions sequences involving some epic boss battles and an ending that will leave you anticipating the impending sequel is more than enough for me to label this as the first must have game of 2010 (not that there is a lot competition right now).

The graphics are beautiful, from deserts where the sand is comprised of the ashes of six billion dead humans, to lush jungles that have reclaimed the cities that once dominated the landscape. Every creature has exquisite detail to them, from the scars on War’s face to the talons of the giant bats that litter the twisted remains of the world.

Along with great looks, the game sounds very good. The music, although rather generic, helps set the atmosphere beautifully and the voice acting is top notch, highlighted by Mark Hamill who seemed to channel shades of the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series into the masochistic Watcher and Moon Bloodgood as Uriel, the angel who takes over heaven’s ranks after the fall of Abaddon.

I also liked the fact how, aside from the opening and closing movies, the game really focuses more on the action, the fighting, and the platforming and avoids unnecessarily long cut scenes to forward the plot. Possibly this was a move to avoid too many comparisons to the style of games this is clearly based off of since the gameplay easily can draw a lot of parallels to more well-established franchises.

The gore and fighting mechanics are very similar to that of God of War with only a handful of buttons really being needed to mash your way across your typical desert, water, jungle, and fire areas. This goes along nicely with the “me against the world” theme from that franchise.

More parallels can be seen in the items you acquire over the course of the game since almost all of them have appeared in The Legend of Zelda at some point or another. The abyssal chain is exactly like the hookshot, your horse Ruin is reminiscent of Epona, the Crossblade is just like the boomerang, etc. So, the gameplay isn’t anything you haven’t seen before and lacks any real originality. Along with this, there are a few glitches as the game progresses and can be very frustrating when you fall into a bottomless pit when the game glitches mid-jump.

Still though, there is a reason why people love The Legend of Zelda and it was nice to see a game with hard puzzles and tremendous temples. The outside world wasn’t as epic as I would have liked, considering the entire Earth was supposed to be wiped out. It doesn’t seem like you’re traveling more than through the five NYC boroughs.

The game should take you 15-20 hours to completely beat, but there isn’t much to bring you back for a second playthrough. If there were any collectibles or achievements you missed the first time through they could bring you back for a little while, but otherwise this is a one and done.

Even with the aforementioned lack of originality, this game is a lot of fun and does a great job drawing you into the post-apocalyptic world. I enjoyed the game so much that I stood up and clapped at the end of the final cinematic and with the amount of games I have to play; it takes a lot to elicit that kind of a response from me anymore. Kudos to Vigil Games and THQ. Simply put, this is a great game. Darksiders is available now for Xbox 360 and PS3 and is the first must have game of the New Year.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 9.0: From the detail of the world you fight through to the skulls carved on your Chaoseater sword, the graphics are top notch. A point gets deducted only for the generic looking blood effects. There could have been a little more splatter that lasted longer on screen for my tastes.

Audio: 9.0: The voice acting for this game spearheads this score as Mark Hamill and Moon Bloodgood highlight a cast of awesome performances. Include spot-on SFX and the only point that gets docked from this is for the generic, forgettable background music that at least was able to set a nice mood as you progressed through the game.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.5: The general plot has been done before so it loses points for lack of originality, but at least the game progressed at a good pace and set things up well as the conspiracy against War unfolds and then comes together at the end in a great final cinema scene.

Gameplay: 7.0: Glitches and lack of originality again hurts this score, but when you are basing your game off of sure-fire hits like God of War and The Legend of Zelda, you can forgive them a little.

Replay Value: 3.0: There isn’t a lot to bring you back to this game after the initial playthrough besides looking for more power-ups or any achievements you may have missed along the way.

Overall (not an average): 9.5: Even though I penalized the individual category scores for lack of originality, I can’t do it for the overall game because, the time-tested, proven formula that Darksiders uses works and is a lot of fun to play. Any game that gets me to stand up and applaud while the credits roll is a winner in my book and I cannot deny the fun I had playing this game. I looked forward to coming home and playing this game every day after work. So what if it wasn’t the most original game? Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery after all.

-Ray Carsillo

Join the Dark Side

Originally Published: November 2, 2009, on Lundberg.me, 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), and Examiner.com

Joe “Mad” Madureira is known for his legendary artwork with his run on Uncanny X-Men. What many people may not know is that when Joe left comics, he founded his own video game company and it looks to be producing one of the hottest looking games of 2010.

Darksiders follows the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse and how War has been blamed for bringing about the Apocolypse early. Charged with clearing his name and finding the true culprits, you take over as War and use your awesome powers to fight your way through the ruins of the world on your quest for vengeance.

I had a chance to talk to Joe Mad at this year’s Big Apple ComicCon as well as get a hands on with the game’s early demo. Check out the interview below for more details on the January 5, 2010 release and some sweet footage of this sure to be action/adventure smash-hit.

Darksiders Preview with Joe “Mad” Madureira and Ray Carsillo
Video by Jared Bodden

-Ray Carsillo