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Darksiders 2: New hands-on with the ambitious sequel

The Grim Reaper takes up free running in THQ's open world follow-up...

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The Foundry is a network of chambers and corridors, each of which focuses on a specific type of gameplay. In some, the 'floor' is actually a bubbling pit of lava, forcing you to use Death's free-running abilities to skirt around the edges, swinging on scenery, clambering up pillars, and wall-running. Others are circular arenas full of enemies that you have to defeat to proceed, or maze-like caverns submerged in water you have to swim through.

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But it's the huge chambers that impress the most. After a claustrophobic network of tunnels, the dungeon suddenly opens up into an enormous ruin in the middle of a lake. Here you have to get a broken water wheel running to power up the foundry's ancient machines, which involves navigating a tough platforming challenge, and flooding the area by pulling a series of levers. The scale is impressive, and we hope areas like this are a frequent occurrence in the finished game.

The dungeon ends with a boss battle that's straight out of PlayStation's Shadow of the Colossus. It takes place in the overworld area we mentioned earlier, and sees Death battling an enormous beast, The Guardian, that's bigger than a skyscraper, and much angrier.

As we played Darksiders, we noticed how tough it was. Sometimes Karn would wander off in the direction of the next objective, but mostly, very little was signposted. We got lost a lot, and puzzles had us genuinely stumped - something that rarely happens in action games these days. This is intentional, say the developers. They didn't want to make a game where solutions are obvious, and everything is linear and predictable.

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