Gruesome executions await everything bigger than a standard grunt, and Death can occasionally unleash a devastating Reaper form to really start harvesting lives at terminal velocity. That said, if Darksiders II has learned anything from the first game, it's to not get too bogged down in combat situations. Fighting still plays a huge part in the game, but Death is far lighter and more agile than Sir Meatalot War and has been studying Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time before heading outside to bust skulls.
If War were to stagger into any of these environments he'd have to shrug his shoulders and back away pretty quickly: parkour skills of the highest order are needed to wall-run and clamber around collapsing caverns and lava-filled sewers. Luckily, Death's bones creak far less than you'd think, and nimble finger work will see him spring across gaps and ledges like a demonic and infinitely more likeable Diddy Kong.
Tagging along for the ride are horse Despair and raven Dust. Like Epona, Despair is crucial for traversing wide-open overworld zones and taking on an otherwise unbeatable boss or two. Of course, you'll havelittle choice but to leave him at the doorof most dungeons. Dust, on the other hand, plays the part of a feathery guide whenever you call him for assistance, and proves his worth in the biggest and most complicated environments by perching near the best path forward.
GRIM AND BEAR IT
Just as Skyward Sword saw Link dabbling with and upgrading different bits of gear, Darksiders II gives Death the option to mix and match his items. As you scythe your way through enemies, carcasses will start dropping bounty onto the battlefield: random bits and bobs like spears and boots and hammers. Every piece will have an effect on Death's attacking and defensive statistics, and although a lot of it will turn out to be junk there's going to be plenty of rare loot to keep eyes and satchels open for.
Word is that entire dungeons and plotlines will be reserved for side-quests to give explorers a reason to veer away from the main path. Locations are designed according to Metroid blueprints too, so revisiting old areas with new gear will unlock previously impassable gates to poke about for goodies.
Although THQ are having a tough time of it, there are no concerns about Darksiders II's quality or future prospects. Everything shown so far has been hugely impressive, and there's still the tantalising prospect of some online features yet to be revealed and the mystery behind the confirmed involvement of other horsemen Strife and Fury - two secrets we hope aren't mutually exclusive.
Will Darksiders II threaten to dethrone Zelda from the top of Nintendo's tree? Not in a million years. But it could well prove to be a companion series every Zelda fan should cosy up with during Link's downtime.