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FEATURES


NINTH CIRCLE


DREADLINES DARKSIDERS II, THE SIMS 3: SUPERNATURAL, THE WALKING DEAD, MURDER OF CROWS


DARKSIDERS II Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC


THQ Have you ever wished for a game


that combined all your favourite ele- ments from other titles? Well, this Darksiders sequel is just such a beast. In the original outing, the Apoca- lypse is triggered ahead of schedule,


reducing the Earth to a smouldering ruin, and War, a Horseman of the Apocalypse, is blamed for the destruction. In that game, you played as War and battled all sorts of baddies to uncover the truth behind who set you up. In this follow-up, you take on the role of Death, War’s brother and fellow Horseman, on his quest to clear War’s name. Your journey leads you through mystical realms, such as the grassy Forgelands and the desecrated Land of the Dead. Aid- ing you are Death’s undead horse Despair, and his trusty objective- finding crow, Dust. Darksiders II takes the questing of Zelda, the bloody combat from


God of War, the platforming of Prince of Persia and even the portals from, er, Portal, but fails to add much originality of its own. The se- quel also shoehorns in standard RPG elements, with the addition of a skill tree and character customization. While there’s the return of the angels and demons from the first


game, Darknesss II adds new creatures too, including stone golems, giant insects and warrior skeletons, the design of which seems lifted from a death metal album cover. The main big bad here is Corrup-


FEATURES 000 0 NINTH CIRCLE


tion, a malevolent black goo that infects and controls most of your enemies. Even though this sequel is much larger than


DREADLINES


its predecessor and features a highly polished orchestral score, too much play time is devoted to the endless fetch-quests. Luckily, the game makes up for that with its fantastic combat system and fun boss battles – well, except for


HEADSHOTS: GOOD CREATURE/WORLD DESIGN, FUN COMBAT, GREAT SCORE MISFIRES: REPETITIVE FETCH-QUEST GAMEPLAY, UNDERWHELMING FINAL BOSS, CLUNKY MENUS


THE SIMS 3: SUPERNATURAL PC, Mac


EA The Sims 3 is not a horror game, but as anyone who has ever


played the tiny people manipulator can attest, the developers have long been sneaking genre elements (namely ghosts, mummies and vampires) into gameplay. But now, with Supernatural, all those disparate things that go bump in the night have been com- piled into one expansion pack. The Sims 3 is at its heart a people simulator, meaning you mi-


cromanage a household of Sims, controlling their actions and helping the little digital beings achieve their wants and needs. While there are goals, which earn you points to buy perks to make life easier, there is no specific win-or-lose dynamic, apart from death, and no set end- ing. This is open-ended gameplay at its most open-ended – almost a digital dollhouse, if you will. What Supernatural brings to the party is the ability to fill that dollhouse (and the town it’s connected to) with werewolves, vampires, ghosts, witches, fairies and even zom-


00000 HEADSHOTS: FUN GENRE ELEMENTS, DIFFERENT SKILLS AND WEAKNESSES FOR EACH SUPE MISFIRES: OCCASIONAL CRASHES, FULL MOON ZOMBIE ATTACKS GET ANNOYING RM60


a disappointing final showdown, which is among the easiest of the entire game. Puz- zles, which help balance out the fetching and combat, are never too difficult, and var- ied enough to be rewarding. Despite never becoming the sum of all its


borrowed parts, Darksiders II is still a worth- while diversion, just be prepared to play Spot the Influences the entire time. JUSTIN ERICKSON


bies, should you please, though their proclivity to bite and infect every- thing in sight during a full moon can get tiresome real quick. Each of these character types also comes with specialized abilities and strengths and weaknesses that affect gameplay. For example, witches can cast spells on other Sims, while vampires are sensitive to sunlight and werewolves can’t help but turn beastly during the full moon, which also happens to bring the zombies a-shambling and looking for human flesh. Some creatures, such as the vamps and weres can even convert other townies. Interestingly, several of the pre-made playable households seem to


mimic the living arrangements of characters on popular supernatural TV shows, though the names have been changed (e.g., one scenario features a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf as roomies, while another has a blonde fairy girl living alone). While this expansion is unlikely to make new fans for the long-run-


ning simulator – The Sims 3 style of gameplay is very much an ac- quired taste – genre buffs who already play may find that they never create another human character again, because, well, normal is bor- ing, and being human is so 2011.


MONICA S. KUEBLER


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