Darksiders II 2-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - March 19, 2014
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The graphics are a little mixed in Darksiders II and in that way, fail to stand out. Not an altogether bad thing of course, but not necessarily good either.
The world and characters that fill it are not particularly detailed in any way. Plenty appear to be exploiting textures as a way to add detail instead of more complex models, but sadly the textures are themselves not very detailed or are simply of lower quality. For example, a scar on Death's shoulder looks blotchy and lacking depth. An NPC named Ostegoth is possibly the best example of this, though, with a beard and horns both using textures to add detail, when the textures themselves are not that great. Now that is not to say the textures alone look bad or that the models alone look bad. For me and my eyes it is more that the combination fails to satisfy me for what it is trying to do.
The world is better than the characters in this regard, due to its scale making it easier to conceal any issues. It is not perfect though, as large, open, and empty expanses are not particularly uncommon. Admittedly the Dead Plains does sound like a place that would not have much filling it, but Stonefather's Vale in the Forgelands (an area you reach very early in the game, so no spoilers here) seems emptier than it would be. There is eventually a mechanical use to its emptiness, but at best that excuses the emptiness; it does not fill it.
Another thing about the world is the curious draw distances. Seeing plant life and shadows appear or sharpen as you draw close is not particularly surprising or jarring. In fact as just that, the game looks absolutely fine. What is weird is that there were some points that I noticed the textures having a detail distance at times, and just how near that distance was. It almost looked like you could have outrun and get ahead of it on Despair, Death's horse.
With all of that said, let us get to what could possibly be the best looking elements in the game: the gear. Darksiders II brings in the multitude of loot and gear you would find in many action RPGs, and whatever it is you equip, it's applied and rendered on Death's model. Gauntlets, boots, chest-pieces, shoulder plates, and weapons are all rendered and actually do look pretty good. It is true that you do not get a very good look at them very often, as the camera tends to remain in its third-person view, but at that distance, it all looks fine.
Fluids are much the same as they were in the previous game. Water behaves appropriately to you, even if it is not particularly lively. Stepping and swimming in it causes the ripples and disturbances you would expect, but it is fairly easy to see that these are just simple animations, previously rendered, that are being placed where they need to be. Fire, though less common, is treated similarly.
The burning status that can be applied to an enemy (or you) is drawn as more of a status effect, with an animation being applied over the character's skin than the character actually being on fire. This is fair, as you do not want to obscure a target, but I want to mention it so you cannot say I failed to mention this use of fire.
Time to talk about performance, so here are my specs:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
- PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
This time around, the graphics options are a little more robust, with ambient occlusion, shadow quality, and anti-aliasing all being controllable, along with resolution, v-sync, and gamma levels. At max settings, the game ran almost flawlessly on my machine, and at a strong 60 FPS. The only issues were an occasional stutter and some random crashes. The stutter seemed to be what I would expect of fragmented files or a background process diverting resources. Defragmenting the files did not help. After completing the playthrough though, I did have reason to run a disk check, which reported that it fixed some issues. I do not know what the issues were, but I jumped back into Darksiders II to see if the performance were better. As I have no solid repro of the stutter beyond playing the game, I cannot state for certain if it the issues have been fixed. What I can say is that I did not experience any more of the stuttering, beyond the brief stutter that can happen when a new area is loaded.
Because of the nature and unknown cause of these issues though, I am willing to dismiss them as something peculiar to my particular computer in the state it was when I played the game. That is not to say you may not experience these issues, but that I do not believe you will, and even if you do, they are not especially frustrating. (Except for when it crashes during a boss fight you were doing so well at or when it crashes just after completing something, and before it saves.)
Over all the graphics of Darksiders II are not particularly impressive, but also do not fail the game. There are some things that could look better, but nothing looks bad. The worst thing I could think to say is that it does not live up to the standards I would want of it, but then there are many, many games and other media that I can say that of.