You gotta give a hand to Jackie Estacado. After going on a murderous rampage through New York to avenge the death of his girlfriend Jenny with the help of his birthright powers known as The Darkness, he manages to take over the Mafia family and subdue his powers from taking control of him. That is, until a few years later when a slight massacre at a restaurant causes Jackie to call back his Darkness powers to save himself from death and solve the ordeal.
Despite the fact that The Darkness gained some pretty positive reviews and a solid fan base, it has taken five years for a sequel to be released. This time around, Digital Extremes took helm and gave a new spin on the game. Gone are the realistic graphics in favour of a more cartoonish Borderlands-esque look. Some people may be put off by the change, but it is a very understandable direction for a game based off a comic book.
The game play can be comparable to it’s previous installment but at the same time it plays completely different. It is indeed a FPS, but if you come into The Darkness II to play with the guns, you are missing out on the true charm of the game. As the title suggests, you control The Darkness. With its power, you can latch on to enemies and objects with a tentacle-like snake arm and toss them around. You can slash in various directions to knock opponents into the air or into the wall. Hell, you can rip out the heart of a downed enemy. These powers are usable at any time (and are controlled by two buttons, one latch and the other slash) as long as you are in the dark. Any light source (light fixtures, motor powered lamps, the sun) will put The Darkness at bay and will leave Jackie with nothing but his firearms and hindered sight. A common theme in the game is dodging light, so instead of running and slashing (or gunning, if you are boring like that), careful planning of destroying light sources is a must. It is rather annoying when you are in the middle of a firefight and accidentally run under a light bulb you didn’t notice. There is a bit of trial and error that goes along with the game, but Jackie is so overpowered with upgrades that it is almost impossible to actually die.
Ah yes, the upgrades. Whenever you kill an enemy, you are rewarded with Essence points. The fancier the kill, the more points you are rewarded with. A simple gun kill will leave you maybe 10 points, but impaling a bastard to a wall with a metal rod will set you with about three times the amount. The upgrades you can buy (from designated spots throughout the game) both make and break the game. With bonuses such as Dark Armour (gives you added defense while in the dark), enemy stunning, and the various recovery kills, you are pretty much unstoppable. If one was to purchase the tentacle stun and a regeneration perk, they could simply stun the enemy by launching them into the air with the tentacle (the perk will leave the enemy suspended in the air for a few seconds) and then regain a stat of choice by executing them by grabbing them from their suspended state. Jackie will then rip the guy in half, burst through his chest, tear his throat out, or find some other way to make his day worse. Jackie is invulnerable while performing these executions, so it is quite easy to run up to an enemy, whip them up into the air and then finish them with a health recovery execution. As the game advances, the enemies get stronger and carry armour such as shields. This is nothing but a small delay as doing a few more slashes will stun them just as well. Another perk that is available allows Jackie to summon a swarm of locusts that will stun the enemies for a few seconds no matter how much armour they have equipped so latching on to and executing them is even simpler. There is a cool down time in between summons, but more perk upgrades lowers the time and a recovery execution is available for speeding up the cool down time even further.
The difficulty may be on the easy side, but that doesn’t stop the game from being any less fun. Grabbing a pool cue and chucking it through a guy is just as fun the second time as it is the first. The number of enemies on screen is just an excuse to see how fast you can tear through them with all the various objects you have at your fingertips. The story is nicely portrayed throughout the game and the voice acting is top-notch, so sitting through the cut-scenes is a very much welcomed break in between the massacres.
If the 6 or so hour story mode wasn’t enough to satisfy you, the game offers a New Game Plus mode as well as a ‘Vendetta’ mode. New Game Plus let’s you play through the game a second time, but includes all of the relics (hidden collectibles scattered through the levels) and perks you have unlocked during the previous play through. Vendetta mode is a skirmish-styled affair (which can be played both single player or with friends cooperatively) that has you select pre-made characters that have a uniquely specified number of perks. Once you have selected a character, you take on assassination missions that have you run through areas of the Story mode mowing down lackies to finally take down your hit, earning Essence points to upgrade your character in proceeding missions. It is a welcomed addition that does give the game replayability and a fun time with friends.
The Darkness II would make for a great rental or sale buy, but I can’t see a $60 purchase being worth it. It lacks a lot of the originality of the previous title, and doesn’t blow anything away in any of it’s departments. It is a solid, fun game while it lasts, but I doubt it will have me wanting a second time through.
- Darkness Powers are Very Fun to Use
- Interesting Story
- The Darkling Companion is Awesome
- A Bit on the Short Side
- Pretty Easy, Even on the Harder Difficulties
- Nothing Mind-Blowing