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THQ’s DARKSIDERS II and Square Enix’s SLEEPING DOGS could quite
possibility be two of the best games of 2012. With both out on August 14th, the titles take players into dark
universes full of addictive gameplay. Read on for FANGORIA’s reviews on these
horrifying new titles!
Publisher THQ and developer Vigil Games' sequel DARKSIDERS
II runs parallel to the events from the first game, though you couldn't tell by
gauging the two games side by side. DARKSIDERS II goes far beyond the
limitations of the first to create something that is completely its own and a major
step forward for the franchise. In the game, you play as Death, exploring the
different planes of existence including the light and darks worlds and Earth.
You’ll have a variety of combination attacks and arcane spells to vanquish your
foes, get the loot and avenge your brother War for a crime he didn't commit.
Certain of his brother's innocence—War is accused of
jumpstarting the apocalypse prematurely—Death begins seeking out those who
would aid him in his cause. Your travels will take you on an adventure to
different realms of existence and will require a number of favors from those Death
has befriended in the past and those he has yet learned to trust. The game's
gripping narrative is far superior to the previous entry, with a world that is
nearly twice the size of the original and is full of more interactive NPCs that
not only give Death additional missions, but assist in battle, as well.
DARKSIDERS II is primarily an action title, meaning you’ll
have to learn to mix-and-match both light and heavy attacks to chain together
combinations that will devastate your opponents. One of the game's huge
improvements is the loot system that allows you to find plenty of new weapons
and equipment as you explore. Not only do these weapons offer different
attributes, but they also change Death's appearance dramatically to match his
current equipment. You'll find better loot later in the game, and special
Possessed Weapons can be found, and be fed weaker weapons to level up
accordingly. In addition, Death himself will gain experience points throughout,
which can be leveled to earn additional skills from the game's two skill trees;
Harbinger, which is essentially your melee combat skills, and Necromancer,
which contains most of the magical spells in the game. Of course, everyone
knows Death rides a pale horse, so Despair is available as your trusty steed to
help travel the world of DARKSIDERS II.
The DARKSIDERS presentation has been completely overhauled
since the previous game, and it really shows in a good way. The sequel manages
to look far superior from a graphical standpoint, and a tweaked control scheme
allows for greater control of Death, both in and out of combat. Sound design
here is top quality as well, with a cinematic voiceover and a soundtrack from
BAFTA award-winning composer Jesper Kyd that certainly contends for best of the
year. Kyd captures the world of DARKSIDERS II perfectly, with his excellent overworld
songs, as well as intense battle themes. Even with such a magnificent
presentation, DARKSIDERS II's soundtrack stands out as a blueprint for what a
great score can mean for a next generation title.
DARKSIDERS II was a long time coming, but well worth the
wait. The game features a massive storyline that is a cut above its
predecessor, and most other titles for that matter. Players will want to
experience the title more than once in order to see all the game has to offer,
and the all new Crucible arena mode will have you occupied for hours at a time
as you attempt to defeat an increasingly difficult wave of enemies until you've
completed all 100 challenges. DARKSIDERS II is the total package.
What began as TRUE CRIME: HONG KONG for publisher Activision
was later repurchased by Square Enix and developed under its new name SLEEPING
DOGS. This, as it turns out, was a great decision. SLEEPING DOGS has quickly
gained momentum this year, easily becoming one of the most anticipated titles
of the year; apparently the premiere open-world experience. By taking a
fantastic hand-to-hand combat system, a running and climbing system somewhat
similar to ASSASSIN'S CREED and adding gameplay elements from other sandbox
games like GRAND THEFT AUTO and SAINTS ROW, SLEEPING DOGS is a hodgepodge of
many a great titles that produces an experience that manages to be as good as
any game released this year.
SLEEPING DOGS is an open-world cop drama set within the Hong
Kong underground. You play through the game as detective Wei Shen who has gone
deep undercover to take down a dangerous group of Triads. The game often
presents conflicting moral decisions that straddle the line of doing what’s
right, and performing dreadful deeds for the greater good. It's this type of
storytelling that makes SLEEPING DOGS such a thrill. It’s always interesting to
see how the environment of the game reacts to dialogue and the array of events
you’ll find yourself involved in. Hong Kong is a living, breathing world in
SLEEPING DOGS, and there are plenty of things to do and see in the massive city,
from cock fighting to karaoke.
In staying true to the open-world rulebook, Wei can do
nearly anything you can think of with little consequence. Stealing cars and
driving at high speeds through the crowded city of Hong Kong can be a blast—you
can even find speed boats to take the action to the open water. Of course,
you'll have a large arsenal of weapons that can be used to put down your foes,
but SLEEPING DOGS allows you to experience the gunplay in slow motion for more
cinematic and tactical scenarios. One big difference in gameplay is the ability
to easily run, jump and climb your way through the world and around other
people. This opens up the game's ability to feature some pretty awesome parkour-heavy
chases through city streets and buildings.
The hand-to-hand combat will remind many of Rocksteady's
BATMAN video game series. You'll mix light and heavy attacks, all while dodging
incoming blows at the appropriate times, to land painful counters on your
unsuspecting foes. SLEEPING DOGS doesn't hold back on the brutality or gore
here, either. Many of the game's environments have interactive objects that can
be used to take out your opponents, permanently.
SLEEPING DOGS is a great looking game, full of violence,
gore and explosions. Many of the missions in the game are memorable and may
even have you playing through the again, just to relive some of the most
exciting moments. SLEEPING DOGS features a phenomenal voice cast that stars
Will Yun Lee (DIE ANOTHER DAY, TOTAL RECALL) as Wei Shen, and a host of other
great actors (such as ZOMBIELAND's Emma Stone). Since you'll spend so much time
driving around the city, SLEEPING DOGS comes packed with plenty of solid
cruising music, as well.
SLEEPING DOGS is a wonderful title that will most likely be
considered for game of the year, just as Rockstar's RED DEAD REDEMPTION was for
its incredible contributions to the genre. The game combines many great game
mechanics all into one package, and the end result is just as good, or better,
than the sum of its parts. SLEEPING DOGS is a wild ride from start to finish.
With so many optional quests and mini-games that need to be completed, the game
has tremendous replay value that few other titles can muster. Similar titles in
the genre are going to have a tough time putting this dog to sleep, so go pick
up SLEEPING DOGS today to experience all this great game has to offer.
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