[Video Review] The Darkness II


Reviewer’s Note:

I’ve inserted the write up, which is everything I mentioned in the video review, for those who’d prefer to read it than watch it. Please let me know what you guys think of the video portion. I’ve been wanting to do a video review for a long time, and if it goes well I wouldn’t mind doing some more.

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Review

The Darkness II, developed by Digital Extremes, is the sequel to 2007′s The Darkness. Based on the popular comic books The Darkness II follows Jackie Estacado two years after the events of the first game. He’s managed to contain The Darkness deep inside and has been living a normal life as the Don of the Franchetti crime family.

After a failed attempt on his life that leaves him severely wounded, The Darkness rears its head and starts to persuade Jackie into letting it out. Trying to fight for his life, Jackie finally gives in and The Darkness is unleashed once more.

Presentation

The Darkness II looks significantly different than it’s predecessor; this is due to Digital Extremes decision to go with a Cel-shaded look to be more like the comic. Enemies in the game are outlined in black, which allows them to stand out from surrounding objects, making them easier to spot against the strong color palette. The move from realism to a more comic book style doesn’t detract from the experience at all, in fact it works very well to compliment the story that is being told.

Story

Jackie is still haunted by the loss of the one girl he cared about, Jenny, and once The Darkness is released he starts to see visions of her pop up at random moments, and begins to question whether or not it’s really happening.

Shortly after the attack, Jackie finds out the identity of the group that tried to kill him, they are The Brotherhood and they want The Darkness.

Jackie enlists the help of an old friend, named Johnny Powell, who turns out to be pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the occult. After all Johnny is the one who helped Jackie suppress The Darkness in the first place.

Gameplay

Gameplay is where The Darkness II really shines. In most first person shooters, it’s having a big gun that makes you feel like a bad ass, but in this game it’s the power of The Darkness that makes you feel invincible. Digital Extremes has introduced a new feature to this game called Quad-wielding which allows you to not only dual wield your firearms, but also use both Darkness arms as well. This allows for some interesting gameplay styles. The left arm allows you to grab objects and people, while the right arm slashes, depending on which direction you swing the right analog stick. Some of the objects you grab with the left arm can be used as a shield, which can be very handy when fighting multiple enemies. Not to mention impaling people with said shield is awesome as hell.

Another change this time around is the skill tree wheel where you can unlock certain abilities as well as upgrade other aspects. Each segment of the wheel caters to the gameplay style you have; if you love using guns then upgrade your ammo capacity. Do you want more health when you perform an execution? Buy that trait. Though in order to progress up each path you have to unlock an earlier ability. Some paths branch off and lead to separate abilities with their own upgrades. Luckily you’re able to re-spec your abilities which restores your ‘Dark Essence’ the currency you spend to unlock each trait, though you won’t receive the full amount back that you’ve invested. Don’t worry, Dark Essence is easy to come by, as you get it from everything you kill. However the amount you get is based on HOW you kill someone, so get a little creative.

Missing from the first game however is the gun-kata. While there is an ability that carries the name, it doesn’t do at all what you’d expect. I miss walking up to a guy and suddenly becoming Christian Bale in Equilibrium, but that’s me. Another change is moving away from the open world model the first game had. Which is fine, as it allows the games pacing to be stronger, and move you along. The breaks it does have are purely story related.

There is also a coop multiplayer mode, that allows you to team up with some friends and carry out side missions together. Each character you can choose from has a unique Darkness weapon and ability at their disposal. These side missions are fun, and actually serve a purpose since these characters are employed by Jackie, and the missions tie in to the main story. The downside to this mode is that if you want to tackle it on your own, the game doesn’t scale to fit one person. So you might find certain segments challenging by yourself.

Verdict

The Darkness II is a fun game. It makes you feel empowered, in a way most games fail to do, while still giving you a challenge. It is not a perfect game however, there are plenty of times when the facial animations of side characters can seem a little off while they’re talking. It’s nothing too jarring, but it is noticeable. The story also seems to progress in the same way the first game does, not that it’s bad, but I was able to predict a lot as it played out, not to mention the ending felt a little too open.

The Darkness II also seemed pretty short. Even though I played it on the hardest difficulty I felt that by the time it was done I had gotten through it rather quick. Though once you’re finished with the game you can always jump into multiplayer and have some fun there.

If you’re a fan of the first game, I’d say pick this one up. If you’re new to the franchise and curious, I’d say pick it up as well.

Review

ProsCons
Great gameplay, Fun multiplayer, Looks greatShort single player campaign, Same plot points as the original, Ending is a little too open
Rating
80%

This review is based on a PS3 edition of THE DARKNESS II developed by DIGITAL EXTREMES.


Written by: Clint - Podcast Producer


  1. #1 by Isli on February 15th, 2012 [ 42785 Points ]

    Nice review, but you nailed my biggest pet peeve with shooters-short campaign. There are very few shooters out there that can survive on multiplayer alone, and I sadly don’t think this is one of them.

  2. #2 by Clint on February 15th, 2012 [ 59668 Points ]

    Well you’ll be happy to know that Far Cry 2 is free for plus members this week, and that is a long FPS!

  3. #3 by Cheeto on February 16th, 2012 [ 29099 Points ]

    How short we talking here? The standard 6 hours short? I think the game looks awesome. The demo was great and I loved the comic feel. The gameplay was an improvement over the first game. Great review JCM.

  4. #4 by Clint on February 16th, 2012 [ 59668 Points ]

    @Cheeto yes about the 6-8 hour mark. I spread it out over five days. Which is about the standard, but at a lower or normal difficulty it would be rather quick. Not CoD quick. There are segments in the game that are heavy story moments, that almost seemed designed to prolong. But coming out of Skyrim, anything would seem short.

  5. #5 by EdEN on February 16th, 2012 [ 136079 Points ]

    Good review. I’ll pick up part 1 first and take it from there.

  6. #6 by Maplesniper on February 25th, 2012 [ 5375 Points ]

    @Eden Same here heh. The original Darkness is #1 on my wishlist of games I need to buy.

    Nice review, very well done!


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