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Darksiders II Benchmarked

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.
Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum (translated by Liala Stiegitz), 🇩🇪 🇫🇷 ...

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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?

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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.

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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:

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 Darksiders II (2012)
med.
1366x768
2/4 Shadows, No Ambient Occlusion,
Low AA
ultra
1920x1080
2/4 Shadows, No Ambient Occlusion,
Low AA
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
AMD Radeon HD 6990M Crossfire
AMD Radeon HD 6990M
AMD Radeon HD 6450M
AMD Radeon HD 6470M
AMD Radeon HD 6350M
AMD Radeon HD 6320
AMD Radeon HD 6970M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800M
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
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med.ultra
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
AMD Radeon HD 6775G2
AMD Radeon HD 6545G2
AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD FirePro W5170M
AMD Radeon HD 7520G
30.1
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5200
NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6400
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 GDDR5
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
NVIDIA GeForce 845M
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med.ultra
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
192.1
113
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Desktop)
NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1000
NVIDIA Quadro 5010M
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AMD Radeon HD 6830M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G
AMD Radeon HD 6540G2
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
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AMD Radeon HD 6290
AMD Radeon HD 6250
AMD FirePro W2100
AMD FirePro W7170M
AMD Radeon 530
AMD Radeon HD 6740G2
AMD Radeon HD 7570M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
20
11
AMD Radeon HD 6330M
AMD FirePro W5130M
AMD Radeon 610
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1600M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
108.9
63.2
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med.ultra
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
AMD Radeon HD 6630M
AMD Radeon HD 6640G2
AMD Radeon HD 7310
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7690M
AMD Radeon HD 7340
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
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AMD Radeon HD 6650M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX
AMD Radeon HD 6730M
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
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AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro W6800
NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
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med.ultra
AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
109.4
62.3
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
22
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
Intel HD Graphics 3000
18.5n2
10n2
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AMD Radeon HD 7850M
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
Intel HD Graphics 4400
26
14
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 4200
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
86.1
49.6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
228.8
142.8
NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
149.7
90.1
NVIDIA Quadro M620
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
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NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
68.9
38.8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Mobile
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
123.8
102.2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
228.3
135.9n2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M
AMD Radeon HD 6790
AMD Radeon HD 6570M
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
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med.ultra
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
AMD Radeon HD 6870
81
AMD Radeon HD 6550D
AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD FirePro W4190M
AMD FirePro W4100
AMD Radeon HD 6490M
AMD Radeon HD 6480G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6480G
AMD Radeon 630
AMD Radeon 620
AMD Radeon 625
AMD FirePro W4170M
AMD FirePro M6000
AMD FirePro M4100
AMD FirePro M8900
AMD FirePro M4000
AMD FirePro M5100
AMD Radeon 540X
AMD FirePro M3900
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AMD Radeon HD 6970
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AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire
AMD FirePro M6100
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
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AMD FirePro M5950
NVIDIA Quadro FX 350M
AMD Radeon HD 6755G2
AMD Radeon HD 6950M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q
Intel HD Graphics 405 (Braswell)
NVIDIA Quadro FX 360M
AMD Radeon Pro WX Vega M GL
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3600M
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon 520
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AMD Radeon HD 6515G2
AMD Radeon HD 6510G2
AMD Radeon R7 370
AMD Radeon R7 250
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 2700M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 2500M
AMD Radeon HD 6720G2
AMD Radeon R7 (Bristol Ridge)
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AMD Radeon Pro 560
AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
Vivante GC7000UL
AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon Pro 555
AMD Radeon HD 6750M
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AMD Radeon Pro 5600M
AMD Radeon HD 6690G2
NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX SLI
(-) * Smaller values are better. / n123 Number of benchmarks for this median value / * 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
60Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 58fps
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.
?Uncertain – 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.
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Florian Glaser
Editor of the original article: Florian Glaser - Managing Editor Gaming Laptops - 642 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2009
I discovered my interest in computers in my childhood, growing up with MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 in the early 1990s. I was especially fascinated with computer games, even from an early age. From Monkey Island through Lands of Lore to Doom, I tried every game I could get my hands on. I have been working for Notebookcheck since 2009 with my focus mostly being on high-performance gaming laptops.
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Florian Glaser, 2012-08-21 (Update: 2021-05-18)