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The graphic novel style of The Darkness II doesn't merely ad style over substance, but instead it delivers a sense of something much deeper and more satisfying. Our protagonist Jackie Estacado storms through his enemies, tearing them apart like a wet napkin. The way he smashes through environments, breaking parking meters, car doors and more flaunt his destructive abilities beautifully.
sadly the game does have its fair share of bugs, we see broken animations, enemies falling through the floor occur far too frequently for my liking. More noticeably, enemies are recycled clones of one another, which makes you frustratingly aware your playing a video game, and can make some intense, edge-of-your-seat moments feel... well... rather silly. Also a bit frustrating are the . None of the issues made it feel unplayable, but did make The Darkness II feel unfinished.
The online mode is fairly lacklustre and feels more like an afterthought. Occasional frame-rate issues in multiplayer can occur regularly during the more intense firefights in the game.
It is the unique style that makes The Darkness 2 worth your money and time. After years of army style games dominating the FPS genre it is refreshing to see something a bit different. Everything has been upgraded from the first 2008 instalment of the franchise and it really shows. So in conclusion a great game and well worth a try.
THE DARKNESS 2 is a first-person action game from developers Digital Extremes which is published by 2K Games. The game runs on the 'Evolution Engine', and is rated '18' by the BBFC.
What is The Darkness 2?
The Darkness 2 is a dark and enthralling action game with some horror elements, and is the sequel to the original 'The Darkness' game, and shares many of the same elements. It is predominantly singleplayer, but has several cooperative modes that are playable both online with friends, and offline on your own - if you prefer. It's based off a visual novel (essentially a comic for adults), and is well-known for being one of the goriest games recently created.
The storyline of The Darkness 2 follows Jackie Estecado, a mobster that has recently received the power of an ancient evil that has possessed many others in the past - essentially making them it's "puppet".
The story is a direct continuation of the first game, and if you're playing on the PC you won't be able to play the original. Thankfully, a video at the beginning of the game clears up the storyline of the first for you. Essentially, Jackie has acquired the powers of a mystical force named the 'Darkness', a kind of ancient evil that manifests as a pair of shoulder-mounted 'snakes', which has been using him as a host. However, during the last game, disaster strikes and the 'Darkness' prevents him from saving his girlfriend, Jenny from opposing mobsters - as the 'Darkness' says she's a burden. She is killed in front of Jackie, and Jackie 'kills' himself, only for the 'Darkness' to revive it's host.
In the period between then and the second game, Jackie has kept the Darkness kept up, and during an attack on a resturant he is dining at, there's an unexpected attack from a group of mysterious villains. Faced with near-certain death, Jackie has a choice - free the 'Darkness', or die.
Jackie frees the Darkness to keep himself alive, alerting a gang that he is the carrier of the 'Darkness' - leading Jackie to a race to find out what is going on - haunted by illusions of his old girlfriend - before it's too late.
The gameplay of 'The Darkness 2' is incredibly fun, it allows you to carry a total of three weapons. Two 'one handed weapons', that you can also dual wield, and a single 'heavy' weapon like a shotgun or assault rifle. In addition to his mechanical, man-made arsenal, Jackie also has shoulder-mounted 'snakes' and a lethal 'monkey' creature as powers of the 'Darkness' - both slick machines of death that tear men apart in mere seconds.
"Well, doesn't that make the game ridiculously easy?" I hear you ask. Well, no, not really. The downside to the Darkness powers is, as the name would suggest, they can only be used in the shadows. If Jackie is exposed to intense light, his snake-arms retract, and his darkling (the name of the 'monkey' like creature) will die if exposed to the light. So you must destroy lights before walking through the area, or risk losing your 'Darkness' powers for valuable seconds.
The gunplay is pretty good, the guns feel beefy and powerful, and the dismemberment of the enemies caused by the weapons give the guns a pretty good feel of strength. The 'Darkness' powers add a lot to the game too. They're generally pretty slick, if not entirely precise and incredibly fun to use. There are also several abilities that the shoulder-snakes can use to gain benefits for Jackie, like extra health and ammunition.
The difficulty curve is actually pretty modest, the game starts ridiculously easy to let you get the hang of it, and slowly ventures into the more hard things like enemies with mounted lights. There's an increasing feel of threat as the game progresses, and this adds to the difficulty. The enemies get more skilled, and new types of enemies are introduced all the way through the game - and it doesn't stop introducing weapons either.
The gameplay in this game is great, but the game is a little short: therefore I give it 4/5.
The graphics in 'The Darkness 2' are cel-shaded, a technique used to simulate the comic-book that the game is based off of, unlike the original game that appeared to have a somewhat 'grittier' feel (from mere observation, due to the lack of a 'gaming' console I never got to play it). Some may argue that the graphics in 'The Darkness 2' take away from the theme, but personally I think it just intensifies the brilliant style of the game, while reminding you of the series' origins - a comic book of the same name.
The weapon and character models are generally pretty good, and fairly high poly - and while there are a few lower resolution textures here and there, the textures as a majority are absolutely fine - not that you'll be looking for bad textures in a game of this pace. The game also features a slider to set 'Field of View', so those who get motion sickness from lower FoV angles such as those that are default, they can set the game to work with their own preferences.
The only graphical fault that I encountered through the game is that the shadows will occasionally flicker and look generally bad at 'low' settings, breaking the immersion a tiny bit.
I rate the graphics: 4/5.
The voice acting in 'The Darkness 2' is superb, each of the characters are very well acted and it draws you into the storyline pretty well. The main character, Jackie Estecado's, voice acting is particularly incredible - especially in the substanical monologues that the character gives in between chapters of the game, something that I imagine would be extremely hard to pull off because of how cheesy it may appear.
The voices of all of the major characters, including that of 'The Darkness' itself, are all very well acted - and while not from an all-star cast - they are all very believable.
The weapons sound pretty beefy too, although some of the weapons towards the end of the game feel just the slightest bit tinny because of a 'muted' sound effect that the developers seemed to have applied, that limited the volume a little bit... lower.
Other than that, the sound is good enough to warrant a 4/5.
Value for Money
This is the major downfall of 'The Darkness 2'. There is no major multiplayer mode, and while I do not argue that this is required in any game, ever, the storyline should at least be long enough to compensate for it's abundance. That is not the case here. The storyline barely lasts six hours, and while that does seem like a while compared to a movie, it's a storyline with very little replay value, and if I were paying the full price of £29.99 for it, I would feel miffed. There is a cooperative mode, but it lacks oomph, and there aren't all that many players so you may find yourself hard pressed to find yourself a match to play with. You can play them solo, but where's the fun in that. I feel that I got my money's worth for this game, but then I only payed £7 due to a sale, not £29.99.
The multiplayer component of 'The Darkness 2' is a small, bitesized and mediocre chunk. It's a semi-interesting cooperative mode in which you play out parts of the story playing others of Jackie's henchmen. The multiplayer mode shows no restraint on releasing story information from various parts of the game, and I'm glad that I played it after the singleplayer because of this.
There are four playable characters with 'Darkness' powers (contradicting the rest of the game), and a variety of missions where you've got to rescue/kill/massacre others. It's all pretty standard FPS stuff, and really feels like a bit of an afterthought. I thought the multiplayer, especially the fact that there is no competitive mode at all, was a little bit disappointing - a disappointment increased by the fact that it really doesn't extend the life of the game all that much.
I give the multiplayer a 3/5, for being uniquely average.
In case you didn't guess by the title, 'The Darkness 2' isn't a light and fluffy edutainment game for children, it's a much more gritty and violent affair. Here's a run down:
This is a very violent game, the game features your average violence like gunfights on the street and some hand to hand quick-time-event styled combat, but the strongest of the games violence includes mutilation of limbs and heads, usually in slow motion and the execution of several finishing moves, including one where your shoulder-mounted arms perform an 'Alien' birthing sequence on your poor victim and another where it draws and quarters the victim while suspended in mid air and mid-view.
There are also several extremely cringeworthy events throughout the game, including one where a character is crucified in a gruesome, awake manner. There's a fair bit of screaming and shouting there, and a scene where a character is placed in a medieval instrument of torture known as the 'Iron Maiden' (it's essentially a coffin where a person is closed in with inwards facing spikes). Followed only by a bit of comic relief as a character remarks he now looks like a cactus.
A character is stabbed just off screen in the throat, you hear spluttering and choking for a second and a spray of blood. Some players may find the scene distressing.
There is a fair variety of strong language in the game, including several aggressive and passive uses of the words 'f**k', 'sh*t', 'bollocks', 'arse' and 'b*stard'. There are also less regular, and distinctively quieter uses of the word 'c**t', used in a non-aggressive way.
A female character asks your character to 'come around the back and find out', in a manner that suggests sex. The player never sees anything.
Some may find some of the villainous characters to be a tad anxiety producing, but for the most part the tension isn't really continued on extensively, and there are several moments of comic relief after more frightening parts.
This is a particularly violent game, and I reckon that the rating board were actually pretty close this time around, and would suggest this game to an 18+ audience, unless you know what you're getting into.
'The Darkness 2' is a first-person shooter that just reeks of storyline and atmosphere. It is truly one of the best singleplayer shooters of the past few years, and I was disappointed it's over so quick. The multiplayer isn't really all that worth investing for, but if you want a good, solid singleplayer campaign to take up a few days or weeks (depending on how fast you play), this is the game for you.
(also posted on Ciao.co.uk)