For this review we are going to that place where it’s cold, dark and something evil lives, because we’re going to take a look at The Darkness 2, developed by Digital Extreme and published once again by 2K games. The last time we saw Jackie Estacado was back in 2007 and things were not going so well for him. So will the sequel be a made man, or is it just heading to sleep with the fishies?
The Darkness 2 takes place 2 years after the events of the first game, and starts off with Jackie as the Don of the Franchetti family. But he is still haunted by the events of the original game, namely the death of his girlfriend Jenny which he still blames himself for causing.
The first level sees you entering a restaurant like a scene from Goodfellas or the Godfather where Jackie is met by his right hand man Vinnie. At this stage Jackie is in control of the Darkness and has been for some time. But soon after being shown to a table all hell is unleashed as a full scale mob war breaks out in the restaurant and sees you and Vinnie fighting to get to cover and escape in one piece.
Things go from bad to worse as Jackie is hit and needs to be dragged to the kitchen to try and find a way out. Once in the kitchen Vinnie tries to open a back door but Jackie can smell gas. Just at that moment a Molotov flies into the kitchen, blowing Vinnie through the door and leaving Jackie on the verge of death. Just as you’re about to black out you hear the voice of a mysterious figure talking to you and then the Darkness begins telling you to let it out and that you can’t die when you have it as part of you.
You choose to unleash the Darkness, which heals your wounds and takes care of the enemies outside the restaurant, and with that the story beings. What follows is a six to seven hour tale of revenge and redemption which witnesses Jackie fighting to get to the bottom of the attack, while also seeing the ghost of Jenny everywhere he goes. The story is one of the strongest points of the game and fans of the first game or the comics are in for a treat as it never really gets boring or slows down to catch its breath, and has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, which will have you guessing to the end what is going to happen. The story was penned by Paul Jenkins who has worked on The Darkness comics in the past. The only down side to the main game is the fact that it is really short at around seven hours on your first play through – it ends just as it grabs you and you want more.
One of the standout features of the game is the way it looks, unlike the first game which went for more of a real world look. This time around Digital Extreme have gone for a cell-shaded look which fits the feel of The Darkness as its roots are in comic books, and this new look emulates this very well. The style is achieved with the games artists hand painting the majority of the game assets, instead of relying on the normal digital methods.
The game also sounds great and sees Mike Patton returning to voice The Darkness. Sadly Kirk Acevedo does not return as Jackie though, but Brian Bloom handles that job very well.
The Darkness is a FPS at its core and sticks to the control system seen in the first game, but also introduces some new features like quad wielding which is a technique that lets you use both your Darkness powers and a firearm at the same time. As for firepower, there is a great mix of handguns, SMG, shotguns and assault rifles to get to grips with. You can choose to wield your weapons akimbo, but the twist is that you can mix and match them, so have a pistol with an SMG or revolver. It’s great fun finding out which pairs are the strongest and most deadly.
Along with the firepower you have special powers that the Darkness lets you use, such as the deadly swarm which attacks your enemies. There is also the black hole which sucks your enemies in and a power that lets you fire pure Darkness energy from your guns. All the powers can be beefed up thanks to an unlock wheel where you can spend points you’ve earned from kills, making them even more powerful.
The last trick you have is of course the Darkling, which plays a bigger part this time in the main story of the game. He is on hand to help you dispatch any hard to get enemies, or if you are stuck and can’t open a door, you can control him which changes the gameplay to something more like a stealth style game.
The other key features of the gameplay include the health system which sees you having to eat the hearts of your enemies to restore health. Also the way that light affects you in the game adds a layer of tactics to the gameplay, seeing you having to shoot out lights before a fire fight so you can use your powers, as the Darkness is not a fan of a well light room.
As for Multiplayer, the game comes with a mode called Vendettas which is a standalone four player co-op campaign. Players pick from four very different hit men, all with different Darkness powers. Like the main game, these different characters are all uncomfortable stereotypes – a Yakuza styled tech head, a Russian spy, an African shaman and a raving drunk Scot with red hair and tartan trousers, like everyone in Scotland wears (sigh). They all have their own unlock trees to reward you with stronger powers and abilities.
The co-op story happens at the same time as the main storyline and focuses on you having to recover dark relics. This mode can be played in single player if you can’t find a game online, so this doesn’t stop you from playing this part of the game. With the Vendettas mode there is also a mode called Hit List where you replay specific missions from the Vendettas, but with different goals. This adds a good bit of replay value to the game after you finish the main story and is a different view of the world of The Darkness.
The Darkness 2 on the whole is a great game for fans of the first or the comics. With its standout look and mix of gun play gripping story and dark and twisted outcome, it’s a must for people looking for a little bit more bang for their buck.
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