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A Few Things You Ought to Know About The Darkness II

Skill trees, controllable darklings, and adult situations, among other things.

The best thing that could have happened to The Darkness II was its delay to next February. Despite the generally good feelings most people had toward the original, Starbreeze-developed game, that title came out all the way back in 2007, and despite selling a million units, didn't exactly set the world on fire past its release. When publisher 2K Games announced a sequel, now under development by Canadian studio Digital Extremes, the general reaction most had toward the news seemed to be that of, "Huh, really?"

The Darkness is back, and pissed off as ever.

Had The Darkness II maintained its originally planned Holiday 2011 release window, it would have been decimated at retail. The word on this game was barely out there, coverage hadn't really spread beyond the most basic notions of its existence, and with so many high profile games on the docket for release this month and next, The Darkness II seemed poised to be one of those games that would be tossed to the retail wolves, and torn accordingly asunder.

Thankfully, that didn't happen, and with a February release now confirmed, The Darkness II might actually benefit from a bit of attention. It deserves it, too. While there are certainly a few quirky things here and there that fans of the original game might gripe about, for the most part my few experiences playing The Darkness II have reminded me of Starbreeze's game in all the most fundamentally important ways. It's dark, it's brutal, and it's got Mike Patton. What more do you need?

For those looking for a bit more of a breakdown than that, here are a few important tidbits regarding The Darkness II, its story, and its various mechanics.

This is Most Definitely a Darkness Sequel

I say this both in regards to the story, and the overall feel of the game. Despite the shift in developers and requisite change to Digital Extreme's own internal, proprietary game engine, The Darkness II feels very much like its predecessor. You may notice a few mechanical differences here in there, especially with respect to the way the guns feel, but that's not necessarily a criticism. The atmosphere of the game is definitively Darkness, evoking the vibe of the comic book and the original game quite well. Some have made note of the new art style, which uses something closer to a cel-shaded look, but it's not quite that. Rather, it's more of a line emphasis that is decidedly less cartoony than a typical cel-shaded game. It's understandable why some might be critical of the look in still form, but in motion, it actually looks pretty great.

You're fighting more than your average mob thugs this time around.

You are again taking on the role of Jackie Estacado, still consumed by the overwhelmingly murderous force known as The Darkness, itself once again voiced by top-flight weird-voice-guy Mike Patton. The plot itself is a bit hacky, dealing with an appropriately mysterious "brotherhood" of "evil" that wants the darkness that lives inside you, and is more than willing to kill you and anyone else around you to get it. That said, when you're dealing with comic book demons and giant, sentient tentacles that feed on human hearts, hacky can be a good thing. Here, it mostly seems to be, with an appropriately bleak, curse-filled, and altogether hyperviolent tale that plays well off of the first one, at least in the couple of hours I've seen. Lots of games are dark and violent purely for the sake of being dark and violent, but The Darkness II seems to mostly find purpose for its aesthetic choices.

Get Ready to Climb the Skill Tree

The original Darkness made interesting use of its various combat mechanics by sheer virtue of combining typical gunplay with a pair of vile, gnashing, dragon-faced darkness tentacles that could perform a wide variety of attacks. It didn't necessarily need a ton more depth, because holy shit you have tentacles that can kill dudes.

Nevertheless, The Darkness II adds some depth to the combat mechanics via a skill tree system. Upgrades apply to everything from guns (more ammo, quick reloads, and such) to Darkness powers (special attacks, recharges, etc.) and the like. It's a fairly extensive list of abilities, which makes you wonder if you'll even get a chance to try all of this stuff out in one run through the game. Hopefully, the answer is yes.

You Have a Cockney-Accented Darkling Buddy Who Kills Guys and Sometimes Lets You Control Him

Well, not much else I need to say there, right? Indeed, Jackie's best buddy in his war against the brotherhood is a darkling who sounds like he just wandered out of a production of "My Fair Lady." This darkling buddy will show up at the most opportune times to help Jackie out, specifically by stunning and/or killing bad guys.

This guy's kind of a dick, but endearingly so.

Elsewhere, you'll actually get to control this guy. Most of the game's puzzles, such as they are, revolve around light sources--anyone who played the first game recalls that Jackie's Darkness powers simply don't work when he's well-lit, sort of like Robert Smith. In one instance of the demo I played, a light source simply couldn't be destroyed via bullets, due to a sort of bulletproof cage surrounding it. In this situation, I mentally took over the darkling--because darkness powers, so shut up, okay?--and crawled up into the ventilation ducts to try and find the power source to shut down the light. While scurrying around the ventilation system, I could periodically drop down to execute an otherwise unaware bad guy, usually by slitting his throat in rather gruesome, gushy fashion.

These darkling sections are context sensitive, so you can't just control your little budy whenever you want. Hopefully those contexts go beyond "bullet-shielded light sources" as the game goes on.

You Will Hate the Bad Guy (in a Good Way)

The leader of the brotherhood is a reprehensible man. Gaunt, scarred, and sporting a haircut that looks like what was left of Hitler's head after he blew his brains out, this nasty, hissing creature is dead-set on getting the Darkness out of your body, and the only way for him to do that is to convince you to do it willingly. As you may have seen in some of the trailers, he does this by effectively trapping Jackie, crucifying him (literally nailing his hands to a cross), and showing him the many ways that Jackie has screwed up, even going so far as threatening to kill every member of Jackie's family until he gets what he wants. Unsurprisingly, this goes over poorly with both Jackie and the Darkness.

I seriously can't wait to murder that dude. You know it's coming.

It Doesn't Suck

Far be it from me to prognosticate a game's quality just based on preview sessions, but I sense good things for The Darkness II. Doing a sequel all these years later, with a new developer to boot, is a challenging proposition, but Digital Extremes appears to have built on Starbreeze's sturdy framework, and constructed something that feels like a proper follow-up. The shooting is good, the Darkness powers are appropriately violent, and the story offers more than its share of intriguing possibilities. Plus, Digital Extremes now has the benefit of a few extra months to fix bugs, tweak mechanics, and generally just make the game better.

Here's hoping it all comes together.

Alex Navarro on Google+
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Posted by Alex

The best thing that could have happened to The Darkness II was its delay to next February. Despite the generally good feelings most people had toward the original, Starbreeze-developed game, that title came out all the way back in 2007, and despite selling a million units, didn't exactly set the world on fire past its release. When publisher 2K Games announced a sequel, now under development by Canadian studio Digital Extremes, the general reaction most had toward the news seemed to be that of, "Huh, really?"

The Darkness is back, and pissed off as ever.

Had The Darkness II maintained its originally planned Holiday 2011 release window, it would have been decimated at retail. The word on this game was barely out there, coverage hadn't really spread beyond the most basic notions of its existence, and with so many high profile games on the docket for release this month and next, The Darkness II seemed poised to be one of those games that would be tossed to the retail wolves, and torn accordingly asunder.

Thankfully, that didn't happen, and with a February release now confirmed, The Darkness II might actually benefit from a bit of attention. It deserves it, too. While there are certainly a few quirky things here and there that fans of the original game might gripe about, for the most part my few experiences playing The Darkness II have reminded me of Starbreeze's game in all the most fundamentally important ways. It's dark, it's brutal, and it's got Mike Patton. What more do you need?

For those looking for a bit more of a breakdown than that, here are a few important tidbits regarding The Darkness II, its story, and its various mechanics.

This is Most Definitely a Darkness Sequel

I say this both in regards to the story, and the overall feel of the game. Despite the shift in developers and requisite change to Digital Extreme's own internal, proprietary game engine, The Darkness II feels very much like its predecessor. You may notice a few mechanical differences here in there, especially with respect to the way the guns feel, but that's not necessarily a criticism. The atmosphere of the game is definitively Darkness, evoking the vibe of the comic book and the original game quite well. Some have made note of the new art style, which uses something closer to a cel-shaded look, but it's not quite that. Rather, it's more of a line emphasis that is decidedly less cartoony than a typical cel-shaded game. It's understandable why some might be critical of the look in still form, but in motion, it actually looks pretty great.

You're fighting more than your average mob thugs this time around.

You are again taking on the role of Jackie Estacado, still consumed by the overwhelmingly murderous force known as The Darkness, itself once again voiced by top-flight weird-voice-guy Mike Patton. The plot itself is a bit hacky, dealing with an appropriately mysterious "brotherhood" of "evil" that wants the darkness that lives inside you, and is more than willing to kill you and anyone else around you to get it. That said, when you're dealing with comic book demons and giant, sentient tentacles that feed on human hearts, hacky can be a good thing. Here, it mostly seems to be, with an appropriately bleak, curse-filled, and altogether hyperviolent tale that plays well off of the first one, at least in the couple of hours I've seen. Lots of games are dark and violent purely for the sake of being dark and violent, but The Darkness II seems to mostly find purpose for its aesthetic choices.

Get Ready to Climb the Skill Tree

The original Darkness made interesting use of its various combat mechanics by sheer virtue of combining typical gunplay with a pair of vile, gnashing, dragon-faced darkness tentacles that could perform a wide variety of attacks. It didn't necessarily need a ton more depth, because holy shit you have tentacles that can kill dudes.

Nevertheless, The Darkness II adds some depth to the combat mechanics via a skill tree system. Upgrades apply to everything from guns (more ammo, quick reloads, and such) to Darkness powers (special attacks, recharges, etc.) and the like. It's a fairly extensive list of abilities, which makes you wonder if you'll even get a chance to try all of this stuff out in one run through the game. Hopefully, the answer is yes.

You Have a Cockney-Accented Darkling Buddy Who Kills Guys and Sometimes Lets You Control Him

Well, not much else I need to say there, right? Indeed, Jackie's best buddy in his war against the brotherhood is a darkling who sounds like he just wandered out of a production of "My Fair Lady." This darkling buddy will show up at the most opportune times to help Jackie out, specifically by stunning and/or killing bad guys.

This guy's kind of a dick, but endearingly so.

Elsewhere, you'll actually get to control this guy. Most of the game's puzzles, such as they are, revolve around light sources--anyone who played the first game recalls that Jackie's Darkness powers simply don't work when he's well-lit, sort of like Robert Smith. In one instance of the demo I played, a light source simply couldn't be destroyed via bullets, due to a sort of bulletproof cage surrounding it. In this situation, I mentally took over the darkling--because darkness powers, so shut up, okay?--and crawled up into the ventilation ducts to try and find the power source to shut down the light. While scurrying around the ventilation system, I could periodically drop down to execute an otherwise unaware bad guy, usually by slitting his throat in rather gruesome, gushy fashion.

These darkling sections are context sensitive, so you can't just control your little budy whenever you want. Hopefully those contexts go beyond "bullet-shielded light sources" as the game goes on.

You Will Hate the Bad Guy (in a Good Way)

The leader of the brotherhood is a reprehensible man. Gaunt, scarred, and sporting a haircut that looks like what was left of Hitler's head after he blew his brains out, this nasty, hissing creature is dead-set on getting the Darkness out of your body, and the only way for him to do that is to convince you to do it willingly. As you may have seen in some of the trailers, he does this by effectively trapping Jackie, crucifying him (literally nailing his hands to a cross), and showing him the many ways that Jackie has screwed up, even going so far as threatening to kill every member of Jackie's family until he gets what he wants. Unsurprisingly, this goes over poorly with both Jackie and the Darkness.

I seriously can't wait to murder that dude. You know it's coming.

It Doesn't Suck

Far be it from me to prognosticate a game's quality just based on preview sessions, but I sense good things for The Darkness II. Doing a sequel all these years later, with a new developer to boot, is a challenging proposition, but Digital Extremes appears to have built on Starbreeze's sturdy framework, and constructed something that feels like a proper follow-up. The shooting is good, the Darkness powers are appropriately violent, and the story offers more than its share of intriguing possibilities. Plus, Digital Extremes now has the benefit of a few extra months to fix bugs, tweak mechanics, and generally just make the game better.

Here's hoping it all comes together.

Staff
Edited by Cyrisaurus

First one was pretty good, but this one is going to have to do much more to stand out.

Posted by Tahlo

Never played the first Darkness. Might give this one a shot.

Posted by fishmicmuffin

I've always been intrigued by this game and the first one. I'm with Alex, here's hoping it all comes together.

Posted by Mystyr_E

Best.Thumbnail.Ever

Posted by mm665

Boobies!

Posted by Origina1Penguin

Nice attention-grabbing screenshot for the article link, Alex :D

Posted by Fontelroy

...boobies

Posted by csl316

Hopefully it keeps the atmospheric piano music from the subway.  Nice to have an occasional moment to reflect on that dude whose face I just bit off.

Posted by SlightConfuse

hope this sells well might lead to a witchblade or cyberkiller game down the line

Posted by Afroman269

I came here for the boobs and left with interest for this game.

Posted by chilibean_3

So are we pretending that it's going to be easier to sell a lesser known franchise in February? You know, the time of the year a bunch of games are being pushed back to?

Posted by zudthespud

Clicked on this news story because of the amount of cleavage in the cover picture, then realized this isn't Anime Vice. Carry on!

Posted by ILikePopCans

Breast

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

The game doesn't need RPG elements. That fucks up the atmosphere as how love fucks up a human's future.

Edited by countinhallways

First one is a brilliant game. A stand-out from this generation of consoles for me. If this game can recreate some of the original's atmosphere, while improving on its gunplay, then I will be a very happy person.

Posted by cooljammer00

But it's not Kirk Acevedo...

Online
Posted by mbr2

@Tahlo said:

Never played the first Darkness. Might give this one a shot.

That's like saying "I've never watched The Godfather. I might watch the third one" wat

Posted by ZeForgotten

I downright loved the The Darkness. The story was great and mature. (anyone remember the girlfriend? I'm sure Jackie boy does) sure it got "weird" at times but if anyone had read the comics the game wasn't anything super weird. I'm looking foward to The Darkness II more than games like Battlefield 3, Skyrim or even Bioshock Infinite, but that's not me. Hard to find people who actually liked the The Darkness even half as much as I did

Posted by SuperWristBands

Dark Souls has bigger boobies. Therefor Dark Souls>The Darkness. Sorry guys, science doesn't lie.

Posted by ApolloBob

I love you, but I've chosen The Darkness II

Posted by Abendlaender

@mbr2 said:

@Tahlo said:

Never played the first Darkness. Might give this one a shot.

That's like saying "I've never watched The Godfather. I might watch the third one" wat

So only people who played and enjoyed the first one should buy it?

Then this game is doomed

Posted by lockwoodx

I've seen enough Anime to know where the Darkness is taking their adult situations...

Posted by Beomoose

She looks like she needs to take a shower, And I mean that in the least sexy way possible.

Posted by EgoCheck616

@Abendlaender said:

@mbr2 said:

@Tahlo said:

Never played the first Darkness. Might give this one a shot.

That's like saying "I've never watched The Godfather. I might watch the third one" wat

So only people who played and enjoyed the first one should buy it?

Then this game is doomed

That's why they released that "What is The Darkness?" trailer.

Posted by cstrang

I will definitely miss Kirk Acevedo, as he brought a pretty amazing amount of gravitas to the role last time, but I'm all for Mike Patton, and I've had this game preordered since before it was supposed to come out October 4...

Posted by Trylks

@SuperWristBands said:

Dark Souls has bigger boobies. Therefor Dark Souls>The Darkness. Sorry guys, science doesn't lie.

So greatest game ever is Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive?

Or are we counting the BBB mod in oblivion as part of the game?

Posted by MeatSim

A game coming out in February that has some potential? yes please.

Edited by Trylks

This is a game about the darkness, this is a game about turning (or breaking) off lights...

I played the demo of the first one, that's enough. In the darkness the character is overpowered, nothing can stop him, under the light the character is just a fag w/ 2 guns, similar to many other games, but then you shoot at the light, the game starts, and finishes.

Darkness (as a concept, not this game) is overrated, no cleavage can solve that.

Posted by Razor

I LIKE TITS!!!!!!!

Posted by MSUSteve

Didn't Hitler poison himself?

Posted by NuDimon

Man I love me some adult situations! Albeit Digital Extremes not having the best track record, I'm keeping an eye on this one.

Posted by TheHumanDove

@Trylks said:

This is a game about the darkness, this is a game about turning (or breaking) off lights...

I played the demo of the first one, that's enough. In the darkness the character is overpowered, nothing can stop him, under the light the character is just a fag w/ 2 guns, similar to many other games, but then you shoot at the light, the game starts, and finishes.

Darkness (as a concept, not this game) is overrated, no cleavage can solve that.

entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is based off a demo, and the demo sucks.

Posted by LOZZAT

I loved that first Darkness game. I found the story incredible and I remember being annoyed at the limited enthusiasm people seemed to be giving it. The bit where you could just watch To Kill A Mockingbird on the sofa with Jennie was brilliant, it was a video game where a full relationship is not mainly signified by sex (ehem certain RPG games) and made the story all the better for it. The gameplay had its faults and it was an early game for this generation, but I adore it nonetheless.

Posted by JTHomeslice

You had me at Patton.

Posted by Dixavd

I really liked the original darkness (even though I kind of got freaked out by it when watching my sister play it - especially the nazi underworld bit, I was 12). It definitely had it's flaws, but it was memorable and pretty well paced.

However I am still unsure about this sequel, the designs definitely look closer to the comic, but I prefered how the original game gave itself a very different identity than the comics it was based off.

The gae had a pretty rare equilibrium of characterisation and realism and I am kind of wary that they have moved away form that.

Posted by Jerr

Boobs

Posted by ZmillA

nice classy promo shot. Now to remove GB from the homepage of the family computer

Posted by big_jon

I look forward to this.

Posted by Masha2932

Wow, this was a great preview from Alex. Clear, concise and it had none of the snarky tone present in most of his articles. I really enjoyed the first darkness game and I can't wait to see how this iteration turns out.

Posted by BabyChooChoo

I clicked on this article because I saw boobs.

Posted by LiK

BOOBS

Posted by Czarpyotr

First game was one of the only ones to give me terrible motion sickness within 5 minutes of playing. If the motion blur and bobbing darkness heads remain, I guess I won't be partaking in this one.

Posted by SuperWristBands

@Trylks said:

@SuperWristBands said:

Dark Souls has bigger boobies. Therefor Dark Souls>The Darkness. Sorry guys, science doesn't lie.

So greatest game ever is Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive?

Or are we counting the BBB mod in oblivion as part of the game?

Nah man, a character in Dark Souls has boobs the size of your characters torso. To be fair, she is a giant, but even then... boobs.

Posted by SSully

@mbr2 said:

@Tahlo said:

Never played the first Darkness. Might give this one a shot.

That's like saying "I've never watched The Godfather. I might watch the third one" wat

That is like saying you played the second game, but haven't.

Posted by AsherV20

@cooljammer00 said:

But it's not Kirk Acevedo...

Yeah. This. Still way hell of excited that we're even getting The Darkness II. But yeah, this.

Posted by Tomzombie

@Tallica9000 said:

Boobs

2nd that. lol

Posted by RetroVirus

DEMON SNAKES

Posted by Shuborno

Weird that I'm torn between trying this or a Starbreeze game early next year.

I was skeptical once I heard Starbreeze wasn't doing this but Digital Extremes did pretty well with Dark Sector so I see the potential for this to be a lot of fun.

Edited by RsistncE

Tig ole' bitties.

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