Darksiders II © THQ

In this week’s Red Bull Gaming Blog, Glen Ferris fears the reaper with Darksiders II, plus some news on F1 2012…

Darksiders II - Review

Aside from perhaps this guy, Grim Reapers have never been seen as particularly empathetic characters. By his very nature, Death is not the kind of person you want to tussle with, but that’s just the person you control in Darksiders II.

This sequel to the critically lauded Darksiders finds you hacking and slashing on behalf of the baddest of the Four Horsemen after his brother War inadvertently brings about Armageddon. It’s an interesting position to find yourself in, and all the more refreshing because Death, it turns out, is a surprisingly sarcastic sort who even occasionally becomes likable as he treks across a fantasy world trying to clear his destructive sibling’s not-so-good name.

Developers Vigil Games have upped the ante from the previous instalment, while even more brazenly filching inspiration from the likes of The Legend Of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed and God Of War as they mash genres to create an inspired but not altogether successful melding of RPG, action, puzzle-solving and open-world exploration.

Set in a massive environment and infused with a good storyline and entertainingly wry voice work, Darksiders II may not offer anything original but it wears its influences so openly and with such a stylistic flourish that you can’t help but become a little enamoured with Death’s odyssey.

El Muerte himself can give the Prince Of Persia a run for his money when it comes to running along walls and jumping open chasms, while his fighting style is more defensive than offensive - a welcome addition that forces you to think tactically before you attack.

Both offense and defence are helped greatly by purchasable upgrades from two separate skill trees offering such treats as fire and ice damage and magical curses. You can also upgrade your weapons from a large arsenal, while armour can be looted from dead enemies and the occasional treasure chest.

null© THQ

While this is an undeniably fun way to keep things fresh, such constant upgrading does make the final few hours of gameplay annoyingly easy with Death becoming increasingly invincible as the story progresses.

What’s incredibly impressive about this huge adventure though is that it never outstays its welcome. The spectacle is increased as the game goes on and the inventive bosses you encounter along the way (a Shadow Of The Colossus-esque rock monster is a particular highlight) constantly keeps you on your toes.

Although it never manages to eclipse any of its influences and despite being riddled with technical annoyances, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the adventure. It’s one of those games where you find yourself saying ‘Just another 10 minutes’ before noticing that hours have drifted by. Once Death pulls you in, it seems, it's very difficult to get out.

Byte-Sized News

After last year’s ace offering, expectations are high for F1 2012. Happily, it won’t be long before we get our hands on the anticipated title as Codemasters have confirmed a release date of September 21 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms.

To spread the news, the announcement has been accompanied by a brand-new Young Driver Test video (see below) highlighting a new in-game tutorial feature for newbies who don’t know their KERS from their elbow. As we’ve come to expect, it’s all looking beautifully realistic and the driving promises to be highly authentic.

In addition to the F1 2012 release date news, Codemasters have also announced that the street racer GRID 2 will be hitting shelves next year and kart racer F1 Race Stars is due for release in November.

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