Stinky boss battles ruin fun of ‘Darksiders II’

Today’s column is not a full review of a video game. Instead, I’d like to discuss problems I had with “Darksiders II,” so I can ask other gamers if they had the same troubles.

But first, let’s describe “Darksiders II.” It’s an epic fantasy adventure. You portray muscle-beefy Death, with his scythe-blade.

Death is upset because his brother War (during the first “Darksiders”) got a bum deal from a supreme committee of powers-that-be who rule the universe.

So you (as Death) travel the underworld and engage in a mission (reportedly 20 hours, plus side missions) to exact revenge, and help your brother.

This beautiful-looking game feels very “God of War.” You swing blades and giant hammers. You kill beasts; collect treasure chests and magic potions; and upgrade weapons, traits and skill levels.

There are role-playing game elements, particularly choosing what to say (from dialogue options) to other characters. There’s swimming, wall-running, and ceiling-climbing.

I’m glad “Darksiders II’s” is an echo of “God of War.” That’s my favorite series. So I was really looking forward to playing through this adventure.

And I was thoroughly enjoying “Darksiders II” until I quit it after three hours, because I couldn’t progress past a certain point.

Let’s examine my stopping point in an Anatomy of Two Scenes.

First, I was 90 minutes into this beautiful-looking game when I reached a creature named Stalker. Beating Stalker should have been no problem – despite his difficulty level.

Stalker was so difficult, because it took him just two punches to kill me, but it took me about 50 punches to kill him. I’m good at beating those kinds of odds, usually.

But he and I were stuck in a cramped fighting space, the size of an apartment living room. So I could barely maneuver around Stalker’s rampage.

And I couldn’t get my dodge move to work. I kept getting stuck in corners while he killed me. After a while, I finally beat him by consuming all my health regeneration potions.

Second, immediately afterward, I walked into a bigger room facing a bigger boss, a tree-man named Gorewood. He waved his massive arms at me while shooting killer vines at my feet.

Gorewood also required being hit 50 to 100 times to kill him, while a mere one of his punches murdered me. I couldn’t get near him. And I had no health potions left.

So I opened up the game’s menu options and reset the difficulty level to the easiest setting. Guess what. No difference in outcome for me.

Normally, I would pan a game outright for serving up such frustratingly designed fighting arenas.

But since I liked everything else – the ornate dungeons and the pre-Stalker game play – I turn to you, my gaming friends, to ask:

Do you think these boss battles stink, too? If so, how much do they damage your opinion of the game? Or, do you think I’m being a wimp about these boss battles? It’s OK. Be honest.

(“Darksiders II” by THQ retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 – Plays frustrating. Looks great. Sporadically, incredibly challenging. Rated “M” for blood, gore, suggestive themes and violence. NA out of four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at
delfman@reviewjournal.com.
He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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