The only two things one can be certain about in life, is death and taxes. Or something like that. The point however, is that we are talking about Death.
Death is one of the four horseman of the Apocalypse, and if you played the first Darksiders game, you'll know that it focused on Death's brother, War.
Darksiders II's story runs parallel to much of what goes on in Darksiders I. As a quick recap, War was framed for bringing about the End War, or the Apocalypse prematurely. He was captured, convicted for his crimes by the Charred Council and now awaits their judgement.
In Darksiders 2, Death sets out on a mission to prove his brother's innocence, and travels to the nether realms to call in some favours from some powerful beings. Which considering the fact that he's the only thing certain in life apart from the tax man is pretty weird when you think about it... I mean surely he's the most powerful of all beings?
Anyway, I digress. Moving on.
The gameplay isn't much different from the previous game, although Death has some fancier moves more akin to Prince of Persia than anything else, including things like wall running, and I'll be honest, much as it's fun and I enjoyed the PoP games, I feel the same way about this as I did about Enslaved, which I also felt ripped a lot of it's gameplay from PoP. It's not to say that it's not well executed, in fact both Enslaved and Darksiders II have implemented this particularly well, but it lacks originality.
Anyway, Death wields dual scythes, which I'll be honest, looks pretty damn slick, and his combat is smooth and quick, with the standard moves complimented beautifully with some cool power attacks. You can also purchase additional moves as you progress through the game, meaning by the time you reach the end, you have a pretty amazing arsenal of tricks up your sleeves. Robes. Whatever.
There are some RPG elements added to this action adventure, with a lot more focus on picking up loot than in the previous game. Death can level up as well at certain points, so it seems that the RPG element carries through in more ways than one. This is definitely a good addition as it provides some motivation to go around searching for chests and the like.
The level design and the puzzles aren't particularly engaging however, and in this vast and rather empty landscape it often feels as if you're simply traversing from place to place, fighting enemies as you go, without much else to do. To break the tedium you can travel on Death's awesome horse Despair, but even that loses it's lustre after a while.
The combat however is where Darksiders 2 really shines even if the story isn't quite as good as War's. The boss battles are mostly fun and exciting, with Death's special reaper finishing moves really providing a spectacular climax to an amazing battle. There are also a few battles where you really have to think strategically to win, and this makes a nice change to some of the more straightforward fights.
The gameplay mechanics are definitely improved from the first game, although it can become somewhat monotonous, making the game drag at times.
The visual style is beautiful, and much more refined than Darksiders I, but to be honest this isn't really enough to pull it from a good game to a great game.