Tag Archive: death

Ray needs remake…badly

While it hasn’t had nearly as many remakes as some of its arcade brethren over the years, Gauntlet still holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts. EGM even listed the beloved “needs food…badly” quip as the No. 3 greatest videogame line of all time back in 2002. Now, Warner Bros. has secured the rights from Midway after the latter went bankrupt (and after Midway acquired the rights from Atari in the same manner), and they’ve tapped Swedish developer Arrowhead Game Studios—best known for 2011’s Magicka—to bring the series back for a modern audience.

Obviously, tailoring Gauntlet for younger gamers means some changes. I’m going to brace myself, because this is where the old-school trolls start licking their chops. But there’s actually not that much of a difference here from what arcade junkies know and love. The most immediate change you’ll notice is that you don’t continuously lose health anymore. This forced “time limit” was originally designed as another way to suck down your stack of quarters, and it would probably just piss a lot of people off nowadays. This new Gauntlet isn’t a cakewalk by any means, though. While before you’d pump in more quarters in order to revive yourself, now you need to spend the gold you find in levels.

This works because a lot of modern games have put less of an emphasis on score. It also means this remake has its own skill-based life limit in line with the spirit of the original game. An extra nuance is that when playing cooperatively, all the gold is communal, so if you have a friend who really sucks, all that extra gold you risked your life for may not be there when it’s your turn to finally kick the bucket.

Another interesting thing about gold is that it’s not used to buy weapons like in later Gauntlet ports. Instead, you get new weapons and items by finding “relics” in levels, which then give you special powers like an ice blast or better speed. As you find more and more relics, you need to make some tough choices. You’ll keep them forever, but you can only carry two at a time into a level and can’t spam them because of a recharge meter.

Beyond this, the 4-player hack-n-slash co-op action you know and love still feels a lot like it did back in the day. The four classes—Warrior, Elf, Valkyrie, and Wizard—return, but you can only have one on each team (no clones). You can choose to turn friendly fire on in order to add some extra griefing potential, but because of the communal gold, the game feels less like a competition and more like a true co-op experience, kind of like the Gauntlet Legends spin-off for the N64.

The game also features some classic dungeon designs. I played a level with an Egyptian-tomb motif that was filled with hundreds of undead mummies, and at the end, I faced off against a boss that looked a lot like Death. The classic top-down view is still present, and everything just looks like it’s received a modern coat of paint. I can’t deny that it was tons of fun to swing my Warrior’s axe while surrounded by dozens of foes.

My only real disappointment is the fact that this is currently a PC/Steam exclusive. I miss games where you could sit around a couch and play with a bunch of friends—and I don’t think of that when I hear “PC.” This feels like it’d be perfect for the Xbox One and PS4 with four controllers, but we’ll have to wait and see if Warner Bros. reconsiders after seeing how well Gauntlet does when it hits this summer.

Darksiders gets a heaping helping of Death

It’s not easy for new franchises to break through in today’s videogame market, but the first Darksiders was able to find an audience by incorporating mature themes with familiar gameplay that hearkened back to classics like Metroid or The Legend of Zelda. So, with such a promising start, you wouldn’t expect a sequel to completely overhaul many major features. Darksiders II does just that, though.

In fact, if you were to put Darksiders and Darksiders II side by side in front of a player, they’d be hard pressed to say they come from the same universe. Yet not only does Darksiders II take place in the same universe, but it expands upon it in numerous ways, along with adding in features and gameplay mechanics from dungeon-crawling RPGs.

Darksiders II takes place at the same time as the original game; while War attempts to figure out who’s set him up for the crime that triggered the Earth’s early demise, Death figures the only way to absolve his brother of his punishment is to rectify the crime and try to restore humanity back to what it once was. To do this, Death travels to strange and foreign lands and meets creatures so fantastic and monstrosities so twisted that his own ghastly visage may have a run for its money.

From the second the story starts, in fact, the art design demands your attention, whether it’s Gothic architecture contorted into mountainous landscapes or massive rivers of lava weaving their way through hollowed-out gorges. And when you combine this with the epic scale—the open world’s four times larger than in the first Darksiders—you can easily get lost in the beauty of this distinct universe.

But Darksiders II isn’t just pretty on the surface. The hack-n-slash combat flows smoothly as you string combos together, the tight free-running controls make it feel like nothing’s unobtainable if you really pay attention to your surroundings, and the new RPG elements mean that your weapons and armor are constantly changing and upgrading due to the thousands of pieces of loot (which also directly affect how Death looks). No two players should have the same Death by the time they finish the game, as you can buff him up to the point where he resembles a traditional tank, make him more of a field general as he taps into his Necromancy abilities and calls forth his own undead army, or find a balance between the two.

My favorite part of being able to collect all the items is that you can actually dispose of trinkets you no longer need in an interesting fashion—massive piles of loot usually lead to inventory problems for many of us natural hoarders, after all! By finding possessed weapons, you can actually feed your junk items to these special treasures to power them up and cause untold levels of havoc. It’s definitely a lot more efficient out in the field than waiting to find a store, that’s for sure.

While many problems from the first game have been fixed—like imparting a more clear-cut feeling of character progression this time around due to the leveling system and a less-linear world outside of the dungeons—several new flaws have replaced the old ones.

The most glaring issue is the low level cap, which was instituted in order to prevent the idea that you might need to grind out levels to advance through certain dungeons—or that, by grinding early on, you’d have an easier time working through the game as a whole. Instead, if you naturally progress through the game, you’ll always be right about the same level as the enemies. But in Darksiders II, many sidequests require constant backtracking, so the low level cap means that the game doesn’t reward you any XP for vanquishing enemies several levels below you.

Despite minor annoyances with the level system and the occasional free-running glitch, Darksiders II is superior to its predecessor in every way. It’s got a larger, deeper world with a wide breadth of characters, a thrilling story that sucks you in and doesn’t let go, and some insane over-the-top combat. All those elements make this a must-have for fans of action-RPGs.

SUMMARY: Darksiders II trumps the first entry in almost every important way, even if a few new minor annoyances crop up in the process.

  • THE GOOD: Massive, beautifully designed open world.
  • THE BAD: RPG system creates a couple of new problems.
  • THE UGLY: Well, the dude’s called “Death” for a reason.

SCORE: 9.0

Darksiders II is available on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and will be available for Wii U. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

THE BUZZ: THQ has officially announced their pre-order deals for Darksiders II at Best Buy, Gamestop, and Amazon and they are all available from now until the game’s anticipated release date of June 26th.

EGM’S TAKE: The best deal of the bunch looks to be the one from Gamestop as a pre-order there nets you the “Death Rides” pack featuring multiple exclusive side-quests worth about an extra two hours of content and will allow you to explore more of two areas in the game: Maker’s Realm and Dead Plains. I’ve always preferred more content over anything else when it comes to my DLC.

The Best Buy offer is more for the player who cares about his Horseman’s looks though with the “Angel of Death” pack. A unique set of enhanced Angel armor, a pair of upgraded scythes, and a special visual trail for your companion crow Dust are featured in this pack.

The Amazon offer is for the “Deadly Despair” pack and only offers players a permanent speed boost to Death’s mighty steed Despair. If you’re all about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible though, and if this world is supposed to be as big as its being touted to be, then speed might make a big difference in your game play experience.

What do you folks think? Are you going to pre-order the game now for the extra content? Is there a particular store that you prefer regardless of deals? Or are you just going to wait and see and not bother with the pre-order? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!

Originally Published: January 14, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Dante’s Inferno for the PS3 from EA. Following the first chapter of the revered Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri, Dante’s Inferno has you dive through all 9 circles of hell in order to save your beloved Beatrice.