Darksiders II Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stiegitz), 08/21/2012

Playing with Horseman Death. You can now experience what it's like to stir up a colorful fantasy world as a scythe-swinging avenger in Darksiders II. The ambitioned adventure-role game is doubtlessly one of this year's highlights. Our benchmark check illustrates the performance of various laptop graphics cards.

Darksiders II Logo (THQ)

Vigil Games produced a surprisingly decent result with its first Darksiders game. The young studio (a branch of the financially stricken publisher THQ) at home in Austin, Texas delivered a daring action adventure game that mostly found positive response among the press as well as among gamers in 2010. The average PC rating is respectable 83% on the rating platform Metacritic. Does the successor, laced with all kinds of innovations, also have what it takes to be a hit?

Description

Where the player embodied the apocalyptic rider "War" in the predecessor, he is now personifies the more agile "Death" in Darksiders II. The blue-green sinister character's scope of movement is quite remarkable. Other action games, such as "Assassins Creed" or "Prince of Persia", inspired the added skills. In addition to climbing walls, the personified Death can also perform spectacular wall runs and leaps over yawning chasms. The player can even swing hand over hand along some ceilings (see pictures).

Death is surprisingly agile
Death is surprisingly agile
He can run on walls, among other things
He can run on walls, among other things
Great heights don't worry him either
Great heights don't worry him either

Generally Darksiders II is a blend of various genres. The jump & run sequences are complemented with flashy battles and a nice loot system. During the adventure the apocalyptic horseman collects innumerable items that can be examined and with which he can be equipped in the clearly arranged inventory. Some NPCs also have useful items.

There is also an exciting skill system, comprised of the skill trees "Harbinger" and "Necromancer". So that the player does not lose the overview, Vigil Games includes a handy map in the game. Disoriented players will also be happy about the integrated "GPS crow". Far distances can be bridged with a horse conveniently.

The inventory grows continuously
The inventory grows continuously
Which skill do I want next?
Which skill do I want next?
Unadorned maps with helpful markers
Unadorned maps with helpful markers

Death meets many interesting and detailed characters that supply him with main or side quests. The conversations have a similar style as in the "Mass Effect" series, so by using a "dialog-wheel". If you are expecting profound conversations with far-reaching consequences when thinking of "Mass Effect", our experience shows that you will be disappointed. Darksider II is an action game at its core.

Talking about action: Although the battles get a bit tiresome the longer you play (keyword: shortcuts), the fights are a lot of fun. Owing to cool jump-attacks and smooth dodging maneuvers, the battles make a quite sleek impression. However, the game is basically sooner designed for advanced players. Even in the easiest level, you sometimes meet tough opponents that can only be defeated by skilled use of combos and would otherwise overpower Death. The developer likely wants to create incentives for revisiting familiar areas.

Since the game world is teemed with treasure chests and other secrets, you should regularly stray from the main path and explore the optional catacombs, caves and temples. The track even occasionally requires some brainpower. Smaller riddles provide plenty of diversity.

A few characters are amply equipped
A few characters are amply equipped
Death sometimes looks very small
Death sometimes looks very small
Items can be traded with NPCs
Items can be traded with NPCs

Darksiders II actually does everything right with the staging. The atmospheric intro (ala "Diablo III") and the pretty camera perspectives will delight the player just as much as the professional cutscenes and the stylish script sequences. The action-role game often lets a downright firework of effects explode. Breathtaking boss battles against towering opponents are not seen every day, either.

Overall, the game's design basically reminded us of both Batman games "Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City", which also combined climbing, action and riddle elements. A few words about the soundtrack that we found very convincing: The music and the battle sounds accompany the game perfectly and the English narrators do a great job.

You shouldn't play with Death
You shouldn't play with Death
The characters are relatively detailed
The characters are relatively detailed
What's War doing here?
What's War doing here?

Technology

There are only few options
There are only few options

The track is not first-rate in terms of looks. The nice cartoon look and the sleek animations can only compensate the moderate textures and the lack of polygons to an extent. The somewhat stubborn camera also reveals the game's console origin. It is also too bad that the developer does not add an extended graphics menu to the PC version. In addition to the resolution and the gamma value, merely the video options and the vertical synchronization can be modified.

All technical aspects (anisotropic filtering, anti-aliasing, etc.) are always constant. The advantage is you need not search for the perfect settings. Disadvantage: Darksiders II never looks really good and cannot be down-regulated for weaker systems. The developer should renew the engine in the next part at latest.

A few more polygons wouldn't have hurt
A few more polygons wouldn't have hurt
The weak textures are really evident in close-ups
The weak textures are really evident in close-ups
The cartoon style earns praise
The cartoon style earns praise

Benchmark

We use the second intro video for benchmarking. It is calculated directly in the game's graphics and is perfect for comparisons because of its constant stream. As far as we can judge, the sequence provides a good overview of the general performance range and the maximum average frame rate. The performance is partly lower in effect-heavy battles and large outdoor areas (semi-open world) and tends to be higher in undemanding levels. This means that a benchmark result of 30-40 fps should indicate an acceptable gameplay.

Results

Darksiders II has moderate hardware requirements. The action hit can be enjoyed in the Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 using an upper midrange graphics card (e.g. GeForce GT 650M). A lower midrange model, such as the popular GeForce GT 630M or the older Radeon HD 5650, should suffice for 1366 x 768 pixels. In return, Intel's CPU-integrated graphics (HD 3000 & HD 4000) are unfortunately not strong enough for the game.

Benchmark chart Darksiders II

Verdict

Our two-hour game session definitely whetted our appetite for more. Darksiders II proves to be a fun, multi-facetted and excellently staged genre mix that cannot simply be classified as a specific genre. Vigil Games has likely met the taste of a fairly wide buyer base (fantasy, hack & stay, etc.). The game earns the title recommendable despite a few minor flaws in controls and technology.

Death is not intimidated by powerful NPCs
Death is not intimidated by powerful NPCs
The apocalyptic horseman somehow reminds us of a reggae musician
The apocalyptic horseman somehow reminds us of a reggae musician
The game features many beautiful panoramas
The game features many beautiful panoramas

Test Systems

Many thanks to Schenker Notebooks who kindly provided us with the following laptopss: (mysn.de):

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M & GTX 680M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM)

Nvidia drivers: mostly 304.79 beta; AMD drivers: 12.4 (desktop) and 12.8 (laptop); Intel drivers: 8.15.10.2696

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Finally a constantly updated benchmark chart:

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Darksiders II
 Darksiders II (2012)
med.
1366x768
2/4 Shadows, No Ambient Occlusion,
Low AA
ultra
1920x1080
2/4 Shadows, No Ambient Occlusion,
Low AA
 5AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
271
116
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
123.8
102.2
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
280
175
 12AMD Radeon HD 7970
255.5
195.7
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
228.8
142.8
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
228.3
135.92
 24AMD Radeon HD 8970M
196.7
121.1
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
177.8
106.73
 30NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
198
116.3
 32AMD Radeon HD 7970M
153.8
104.13
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
192.1
113
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
153
91.3
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
134.5
80.2
 48NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
149.7
90.1
 52AMD Radeon HD 6870
81
 54NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
105.82
60.73
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
133.9
76.3
 63AMD Radeon HD 7770
127.9
76.1
 64NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
116.9
69.8
Pos      Model                                     Darksiders II
med.ultra
 72NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
108.9
63.2
 74NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
80
50
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
109.4
62.3
 80AMD Radeon HD 8870M
92.1
54.3
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
86.1
49.6
 104NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
68.9
38.8
 105NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
71.1
41.1
 108NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
34.8
 115NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
62
35
 119NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
42.6
24.7
 133NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
58
33
 135*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
61.4
35.4
 137AMD Radeon HD 8750M
51.2
29.5
 143NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
58
 168AMD Radeon HD 8730M
48.9
27.8
 185AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
32.1
 188AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
26.9
 211AMD Radeon HD 7520G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
41.9
24
 212AMD Radeon HD 7670M
42.5
24.3
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
41.22
22.62
Pos      Model                                     Darksiders II
med.ultra
 220NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
40.9
 229AMD Radeon HD 8550M
31.5
 239AMD Radeon HD 7660G
41.1
24
 255ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
40.3
21.1
 270Intel HD Graphics 4400
26
14
 273AMD Radeon HD 7550M
26.6
 281AMD Radeon HD 7600G
16
 307Intel HD Graphics 4000
24.12
13.652
 313AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
20
11
 325NVIDIA GeForce GT 520MX
26.8
 326AMD Radeon HD 7520G
30.1
 336AMD Radeon HD 8330
18.3
 358AMD Radeon HD 7420G
22
 398Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.52
102
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.
static version load dynamic

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Darksiders II Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-08-21 (Update: 2012-08-21)