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The Darkness II

The Darkness II

Hello Darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again...

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Are you afraid of the dark? Jackie used to be. The other kids teased him, harassed him and finally threw him down into a pitch dark cellar for an entire day. Jenny was his saviour. She spread light in his darkness, and he loved her with all his heart. When Darkness re-entered his life it was more than an irrational fear. It was a monster. A diabolical power that granted Jackie immense powers on his 21st birthday. But it came at a high price. Jenny fell victim to violence, and the light in Jackie's life was snuffed out.

As The Darkness II starts out Jackie is the don of his family. From an extravagant penthouse in New York he takes care of business with his closest associates Vinnie and Jimmy. Digital Extremes, the new developer, have taken to heart what made the original game unique - the storytelling. There aren't a lot of story driven first person shooters out there, and the developers themselves have referred to it as action drama. A sign that they have managed to pull it off is that I played through the game in one sitting. I just couldn't tear myself from the experience.

The Darkness II

It's easy to compare it to a great comic book. Partly due to the story telling, that keeps us turning the pages over as it mixes perspective and focuses both on the external struggle and Jackie's own internal struggle with his darkness. One moment I'm decapitating a horde of enemies in a dark alley, the next I could mistake Jackie for one of the cast in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

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The Darkness II

But the visuals also play their part. The Darkness II is very similar to the style Marc Silvestri used in his comics. Thick outlines and a dark colour palette that is full of contrast paints a beautifully designed game world. It's a major upgrade compared to the original and it lands closer to the source material.

Let us now return to the Darkness and what it allows the player. In addition to having a gun in each hand you're also equipped with two monstrous anacondas that stick out like tentacles, one on each side. These can be used for brutal melee attacks, and Jackie juggles bad guys, impales them and tosses them away like ragdolls. Tears them apart. It's an intoxicating feeling.

The Darkness II
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Darklings are little goblin-like beings of darkness who help Jackie commit these atrocities. In the first game Darklings where a bit more disposable and came in packs. However, in The Darkness II the choice has been made to focus on one Darkling and involve it in the story. It cheers you on, takes a leak, and occasionally passes gas that forms a toxic green cloud. To top things off it wears a worn Union Jack shirt and a skinned cat for a hat. Adorable.

It doesn't take long until you unlock more of Jackie's Darkness powers. There is a number of branches on an ability tree you progress through. One of the first powers I unlock is the ability to pick up the Darkling and use it as a throwing weapon on enemies. Certain objects in the environments can also be picked up. A car door is turned into a shield, an iron pipe is a spear, and an industrial fan becomes a giant Shuriken.

The Darkness II

The end result is combat that is massively improved since the predecessor. There is a nice flow to the "quad wielding", Jackie's ability to wield two guns and two tentacles at the same time. The tentacles are controlled with both bumpers and one of the analogue sticks and the player can choose to slash vertically or horizontally depending on how you want to dice up your enemies.

Minors and easily offended should stay well clear as ripped off limbs and gushing blood is combined with environments like worn down brothels and graveyards. The Darkness is... very dark, adult, violent and dominated by hedonistic scumbags with no morals.

There is however one catch - Darkness doesn't like light. You have to avoid well lit areas as it leaves Jackie exposed, powerless and vulnerable. The enemies aren't slow to take advantage of this and they come armed with spotlights and light grenades. The concept is as unique as it sounds. The story telling, the heavily stylised graphics and Jackie's ability forms an unholy trinity in The Darkness II.

But there are still faults to find. I feel something more could have been done with the environments. Sure, they're really beautiful and well designed, but they're not really innovative in their layout. When Digital Extremes allows their storytelling to vary in tempo from time to time, they could have done the same with the gameplay and implemented some puzzles, deeper interactivity with the characters and more exploration.

The Darkness II

My biggest complaint is the Jackie's tour of violence reached its conclusion a bit prematurely. 6-7 hours is a bit short. Thankfully you unlock New Game+ by completing the campaign, and this allows you to play through the game with all powers unlocked from the start. On top of this there is the Vendetta mode, a separate campaign for up to four players seen from the perspective of Jackie's underlings. You can also play the co-op campaign on your own, and it fits very neatly with the main story.

You play as one of four more or less insane characters. Each of them have a specific background story and unique darkness powers. For example there is a psychotic Japanese killer with a katana who must slay at least one ungodly soul less his own life is shortened by a year. The idea is that the Vendetta mode is a somewhat more laid back alternative to the main story, and Digital Extremes manages to pull it off.

So what are you waiting for? Jackie isn't afraid of the dark anymore, and neither should you.

The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
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The Darkness II
The Darkness II
The Darkness II
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The Darkness II
The Darkness II
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The Darkness II
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The Darkness II
The Darkness II
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08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Gorgeous design, great story telling, awesome sound effects, nice special powers, enjoyable co-operative mode.
-
Short, somewhat bland mission design.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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