The coming of the HD Wii U had many Nintendo fans hoping that they would get to play the sort of dark, gritty fare that Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners have enjoyed for years. You can't get much darker than Death himself, so in that respect Wii U has granted these wishes on day one.
The Darksiders 2 story runs in parallel with its predecessor, in which you played as War (one of the other four Apocalypse-jockeys). In that game War was sent to Earth to prevent Armageddon, but ended up scrapping with a demon and was charged by his council with helping destroy the human race. Sucks to be War.
In the sequel, it's up to you - as Death - to clear your brother's name by heading to Earth and resurrecting mankind. Not that he's used to this sort of thing, being Death and all. It's a bit like sending Famine to Sainsbury's for the weekly groceries run. Still, we're sure he appreciates the opportunity to step outside his comfort zone once in a while: all that mortality-enforcement must get a bit samey after a while and no-one ever says thank you for a job well done.
A Link To Aghast
Many have described Darksiders and its equally jolly sequel as a kind of shadowy, HD Zelda. While Darksiders 2's gameplay and design aren't of quite the same quality as that seminal series, it's easy to see how such comparisons could arise. Death is free to roam wherever he likes, talking to various beings (such as the Makers, who create all worlds and have bad Scottish accents, for some reason) and accepting various quests. He explores a vast overworld (much like Hyrule Field), often on horseback, and ransacks dungeons containing an oh-so-familiar blend of locked rooms, puzzles, items and huge bosses. So yes, if you enjoy the likes of Ocarina Of Time and Skyward Sword, it's easy to get used to this.
That's not to say it's a Zelda clone, mind: Darksiders 2 is very much its own beast, with a distinctive combo-based combat system (much like the God Of War games on PS3) and the ability to level up and acquire new moves and abilities. Combat is satisfying, with the Y and X buttons using your scythes and secondary weapon respectively, the ZL button to lock onto enemies Zelda-style and the R button to dodge attacks. Fighting large groups of enemies is a cinch, as the game's nippy enough to enable you to dart back and forth, dodging attacks and dishing out combos. Playing as Death should make you feel like the ultimate badass and that's the case here.
Sadly, the curse of the day one port has struck Darksiders 2 and there are some framerate stutters, screen tearing and pop-up (especially in more open areas) that might have been reduced or eliminated, had the developers had more time with the final Wii U units. That said, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions also suffered similar problems, so while the Wii U version isn't better than them performance-wise, neither is it really any worse.
It's Dead Useful
The GamePad screen provides you with some on-the-fly menus that you can use without having to pause the game. The main one of these is your world map, which you can pan around and tap items of interest to see where you've been and check up on your missions to see where you need to go next. You can also equip and remove inventory items - weapons, boots, armour and the like - with two taps, rather than having to pause the game and do it there. On other platforms, pause menus were sluggish and cumbersome - there's no denying that the game flow is smoother on Wii U.