Darksiders 4-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - March 18, 2014
» Discuss this article (0)
Before I get into the graphics of the gameplay, I want to mention the pre-rendered videos you will see. I do not know why, but these videos actually look worse than the graphics being rendered as you play. Part of this is because the videos are being scaled up, but that does not explain all of the graphical differences. Just want to mention that because if you play the game, this will likely jump out at you.
Despite being four years old, the graphics of Darksiders remain quite sharp and detailed, if you look in the right places. The character models are among these with War and Chaoseater looking very good, with many enemies also being of good quality.
Unfortunately, not all of the environments are equally detailed. Indoors a room may be about as detailed as the characters that occupy it, but outside the details disappear. Often there are just large, empty expanses. Even if it is a century since the end of humanity, it would still be nice to see something. Still, these areas do not look bad; they just look empty. Smaller areas may also be of lower detail, but then how much detail should a subway tunnel have?
The graphics that really catch your attention in the game are the execution animations. After War does enough damage, a prompt will appear to allow him to execute an enemy in whatever gruesome way is fitting. This could be by crushing their chest in, decapitation, bifurcation at the waist, or simply ripping them in half. No matter the enemy or the animation, these are all satisfying rewards for defeating an enemy. Although it would be nice if there were more animations, as you may run through them all pretty soon after meeting a new enemy type.
The blood spurts that come with each successful strike are also satisfying, but it is probably a good thing they do not last long. As the screenshots capture, the blood particles do not look that good when static. Flying through the air though, the blood looks real and good enough to go in for another attack.
Shadows are little mixed due to an apparently short detail-draw-distance. At times you can see the lower resolution shadows almost in the foreground when they should be restricted to just the background. This is not always the case at least, but it is sometimes.
War will encounter water in a number of places throughout the game. Its disturbed surface does reflect some of its environment, but it is hardly a mirror. It does interact with War pretty well though, as he walks and swims through it, or stands on it. The interactions are definitely canned animations, but they actually do look pretty good, unless you are going to just sit and stare at them. Even then, they do look well designed, if pre-rendered and repeated.
Fire is actually not quite as common in the game as water, at least from what I can recall, but it can also be summoned at will. Mostly you will find it with torches and burning gas pipes in the world, but when you enter your Chaos form, your body will be covered in flames and Ruin, your horse, leaves a trail of fire behind him. Like the water, looking at it closely will bring out its pre-rendered and repeated nature, but again, it still looks pretty good. The flames move rapidly and are dense enough to almost completely hide any flaw, and give them an appearance of vigorous life. (That is appropriate considering the sources of the fire.)
With that covered, time to turn to performance, so here are my computer's 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
I was able to run Darksiders at its maximum settings without almost any issue (will get to that soon) and at a full 60 FPS the entire time. Of course 'maximum settings' just means my monitor's native resolution and vertical sync is enabled. Darksiders does not give you much in the way of graphics settings, and at the least an anti-aliasing option would have been appreciated.
The one performance issue I had was with it occasionally stuttering when loading new areas. I do not know why this was happening though, and the files did not appear to be fragmented. Perhaps there was some process running in the background that was pulling away resources. Curiously my PC has been acting up recently as well, and I am unsure why. Since completing the game I have run a disk check, which did report that it had fixed some errors. After that I returned to the game and played a little, and did not experience any of this stutter. As I had no solid repro case for the stuttering, this does not mean it has indeed been fixed. However, as I cannot remember any similar issues when I first played it some years ago, and considering what these issues are, I am comfortable with dismissing these instances of stutter as something unique to myself and this moment in time.
Altogether the graphics of Darksiders do show their age in some areas, but in others are still graphics to be proud of. Anti-aliasing would be nice, as well as some better shadows and more options, but as it sits, there is little else to complain about.