Monday, February 4, 2013

If Darksiders is a God of War ripoff, then call me Mark Pringles

at 2:10 PM
I'd like to bring you a point today. A very special point that has been near and dear to my heart for almost my entire life. That point is: Darksiders reminds me so much of the PS2 Maximo games that claiming it's derivative of anything else not only proves the subjectivity of such claims, but also that everything is derivative of everything. I talked about this last week - everything under the sun has been done before. Darksiders is no different, God of War is no different, Shadow of the Colossus is no different, etc.

You don't need any incoming knowledge of Maximo or Darksiders to understand this argument; allow me to set you up with the basic facts:
-Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is a 2001 hack'n slash from the Ghosts'n Goblins series, receiving only one sequel, 2003's Army of Zin
-God of War is an ongoing series which has seen seven games since its 2005 debut and has become one of the most popular and profitable in gaming
-Darksiders is an original action/adventure property from 2009 with a big budget and blockbuster aspirations. Developed by Vigil Games.
-Though positively received, Darksiders has earned a reputation as less of an original game and more a greatest hits mishmash of mainstream giants like God of War, Legend of Zelda, and Shadow of the Colossus.

Before I get any further, let me remark that I do not care that few people have played the Maximo games. This post is not a case for those games or their significance in gaming history. Ghosts to Glory is novel and Army of Zin is a good time, but you haven't really missed out on anything if you skipped them back in the PS2 era. My subconscious picked them as my example when it interrupted my Darksiders session to say "hey doesn't this remind you of Maximo?" - plenty of other games could be used to make this same argument.

What bothers me is the suggestion that Darksiders couldn't exist without a handful of extremely recent pop games (ooooh, new term. Bet you can guess what it means!), as if it isn't a natural creation but rather some kind of Frankensteinberger's Monster. It strikes me as utter arrogance on a player/critic's part to assume that they know so much more about games than the developers at Vigil that they can dismiss their work as a bunch of "stolen" mechanics. Yes, a few bits of Darksiders' gameplay are tinglingly familiar: the don't-call-it-a-Portal-Gun Voidwalker, the fucking first tool-item being a boomerang. Vigil isn't trying to trick us into believing it created these ideas, they're providing their own take on recent innovations that haven't yet been further explored. Whether they prove successful in expanding these ideas doesn't affect that it's a worthwhile intention.

These references are mere asides to a game that otherwise fits comfortably in the action/adventure genre. If the core of the game was the Portal-mechanic or Panzer Dragoon flying stage, it might be worth complaining, but it isn't. The central gameplay is exploring environments and combating monsters. Yeah, I can see where God of War plays out much the same, but uh... it hardly invented that. If anything, calling Darksiders derivative of God of War is a testament to how generic the latter game is. In that case just about everything is inspired by God of War, since apparently it's the only game that ever had a character killing monsters in a fantastical landscape. Moreover, the gameplay of Darksiders conforms to expectations. It's pretty much exactly what I'm looking for in a game where I play as one of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse.
If our protagonist suddenly burst into a musical number, then I'd be suspicious
Any game is just going to remind you of what you're familiar with. It's good to identify influences and become knowledgeable about both long-running trends and contemporary fads, and it's equally important to recognize that every game attempts to bring a new story to life. The means by which that is done can be new or old, but most of all should be appropriate.

asggggggggggggggggggG I', so tired eright now. I ewamted to make this oist post have anyhting to do wtih Maximo so it would make even a tiney bit of sience sense but ive given up ast this point. I wrote what you can fee abeove etis mornign and was gonna aediet edit after lkunch but now a[p[a[parrently oene cupo f coffeee is not eno=ugjh to trick me into staying awake to write, i can barely do work right now or not fall asleeepo at my dcesk. i'll right about darkeiders again later anythiway and mayhbe revisit this;.

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