zekefreek's The Darkness II (PlayStation 3) review

The Best Half of a Game I've Ever Played

If the title of the review didn't clue you in already, you probably have a good guess at what my biggest problem with The Darkness 2 is. I'm so fucking sick of it too, this is the third game I've reviewed in a row that suffers from this terrible disease.

It's too fucking short. I completed this game on the same night I bought it, which also happened to be it's launch day. Started playing at about 5 PM and finished around 11:30 PM. That is bullshit. Unacceptable even, and this is where I draw the line. I glanced over this issue with my previous two reviews, (F.3.A.R and Resistance 3) but now it's gone too far.

Consider this to be something of an open letter to game developers. Specifically FPS developers. You don't like the used game market? You want me to buy your game new? And within the first few weeks, ideally? Well then, either one of two things needs to happen. Lower your asking price, and I don't mean 10% or some bullshit, I mean fucking cut it in half.

Or... And this is the more preferable option in all honesty, put more content into your game. Simple. I don't give a shit how good your game is if it's only 6 hours long. As a consumer, I have expectations that I do not think are unreasonable. A good FPS should be atleast 10 hours long. MINIMUM. End of Story. 9hrs 59min? Tough shit, stop spending half your multi-million dollar budgets planning post-launch DLC or fucking Subway promotions and maybe you could put together a game with some longevity.

What baffles me even more is that this game was actually delayed TWICE. It was originally scheduled to come out on July 10th, 2011. Then it was pushed back to October 4th, and than finally was released on February 7th, 2012... ya'know? Yesterday? (As of this writing).

This begs the question. How the fuck you do delay a game twice, which gave them an extra six months of development time, by the way, and have it still be so short? What? Was the game only 2 hours long initially!?! Either that, or they sat on their FUCKING THUMBS FOR SIX MONTHS!!

I know it's unusual for me to go off on a game's faults right away, but this is just infuriating. And a damn shame too, because up until the rather abrupt ending, Darkness 2 was actually really good. Which brings me to my other complaint, the awful ending.

It is the most lazy, cop-out, misleading piece of shit ending I have ever seen. It makes you think it's setting up a second act, but then the credits roll, the logo displays and your left wondering what the fuck just happened. Nothing is really resolved, and it even sets up another antagonist and puts the player character in a bad situation that seems impossible to climb back out of. That sounds like the climax, right? NOT THE FUCKING ENDING!

Imagine if BioShock ended right after you kill Andrew Ryan and Fontaine takes over Rapture. That would've sucked, huh? Yeah well, that's essentially what they did with The Darkness 2. Oh yeah, and spoiler alert... oh whatever it's been 5 years people, if you haven't played it by now your not going to. Don't cry to me because I spoiled the big twist.

So what does the game do right? Well, actually quite a lot.

It should be noted that I never played the original game. I wanted to, but could never find a copy for some reason. Anyway, there's a nice recap so it's not really necessary. The story is great. Very touching, very driving and all. Well until the bullshit ending anyway, but I've already brought that up. I really like Jackie as a character and his relationship with the titular Darkness.

Unlike the original, Darkness 2 does the Borderlands thing where all the textures are drawn in a comic-book style and cel-shaded to... well... look like a comic book. And it works very nice. Visually pleasing all around. I don't think it pulls it off quite as well as Borderlands did, but it's still cool to see.

Gameplay is fluid, fast and frantic. Three words that should be used to describe any good FPS. The Quad-Wielding mechanic (nice name) works fantastically and truly makes you feel powerful. Improving and earning new Darkness powers is done through various shrines along the rather linear levels. While these powers are more of the "small tweaks" variety for the most part, they are still well done. Of course, you'll need to play through the game 2 or 3 times to unlock everything, what with it being so damn short and all.

When your shooting/ripping enemies to shreds the game is great, and when your not, the space is filled with cool interactive story bits. There's a recurring location in the form of an Asylum that Jackie keeps imagining himself in (or is he?) that is very well written and executed. In fact, the writing in this game is pretty solid anyway. I found myself getting attached to characters that barely had any presence at all, which is sort of impressive... I guess...

This game was developed by Digital Extremes, a company that usually sticks to handling the multi-player portions of other people's games. Like, Bioshock 2, Homefront, or Dark Sector. Which makes Darkness 2 sort of ironic as it contains no much multi-player, made even stranger by the fact that the original game did. It makes it even harder for me, because usually when a game's campaign is short, I can blame them for focusing too much on the multi-player. But this time... I don't know what the fuck they were doing. There's a pretty lame co-op mode with like 2 or 3 missions in which four players play as racial stereotypes fighting generic enemies with no real context. Atleast the single-player campaign had some effort thrown into it, the co-op missions are a big bland mess.

It's hard to talk about what the game does right, because it almost seems like a footnote compared to the two major problems I discussed earlier. The Darkness 2 is a missed opportunity on so many levels. That's not to say that's bad, but it could've been so much more. It truly does feel like half of a game, and I wouldn't recommend anybody pick it up at 60$. It's worth playing, but just not at that price.

It might be a good rental for now, or a nice bargain bin pickup later.

6/10. Above Average.

15 Comments
Edited by Still_I_Cry

Legitimate complaint. That is primarily the reason why I don't generally buy FPS games. I liked the demo but hearing how short the campaign is...not a day 2 purchase for me.

The review was also fun to read (especially the beginning as I probably would have had the same reaction).

Thanks :)

Posted by BLKZOMBIE

I understand where you're coming from and agree. I feel like they tried to address the lack of length with the single player campaign by throwing in a "New Game+" as well as stapling a co-op campaign and hit list mode to the game. I was getting the sense that it was going to be a short game around hour 2 or 3. I then became quickly satisfied by just knowing that, for me, I was going to want to play this game again with all the perks from my intial play through. Anyways, I totally understand, I didn't want to succumb to the fact that this was going to be a short game also. I love ripping mother fuckers apart. Shit, I just might write a review as well.

Posted by NellyK

Sounds like a good rental.

Posted by ZekeFreek

@BLKZOMBIE: I would've preferred they address the short single player campaign by making it longer.

Posted by Greigo

I usually counteract the short game problem by trading in immediately after completion!

Most of the time can get the game down to half price myself that way!

Edited by GetEveryone

I've heard criticism of Resistance 3's length before, but can't understand it. I ran through it in ~8 hours. Granted, I was playing on hard, but would that really add another 3 hours? I was never stuck for very long.

As far as I'm concerned that was a near perfect FPS, length and all.

OT: Thoroughly enjoying Darkness II so far and that was a good read.

@ZekeFreek said:

@BLKZOMBIE: I would've preferred they address the short single player campaign by making it longer.

But would you rather it just be padded? Given the story they're telling, it seems to be nipping along at a decent pace. I'd rather play a 5-6 hour game that clips along with little fluff, rather than a padded 12 hour + slog where fatigue sets in before the end (obviously the price should reflect this - I wouldn't expect to pay £40 for it).

Posted by ZekeFreek

@GetEveryone: A little padding is fine. Or better yet, write a story that lasts longer than 6 hours. That's my problem, not only is the game short, but the story feels like it was literally cut in half. Hence, the title of my review.

And yes, aside from the length and the bullshit Sledgehammer, i had nothing but good things to say about Resistance 3. It is easily the best FPS since Half-Life 2. That being said, it does owe HL2 for inspiring a lot of it's best moments. The only other complaint that I didn't actually address in my review is that the ending is not very Resistancey... way too positive.

Posted by DrPockets000

Well, the delay from October was to keep the game from getting slaughtered by the massive amount of well-known triple-A titles coming out around the same time. I really think the game is as long as it needs to be for the story. It's pretty much all killer and no filler, any additional meandering would have felt unnecessary.

Posted by csl316

@GetEveryone said:

I've heard criticism of Resistance 3's length before, but can't understand it. I ran through it in ~8 hours. Granted, I was playing on hard, but would that really add another 3 hours? I was never stuck for very long.

As far as I'm concerned that was a near perfect FPS, length and all.

Agreed. I enjoyed it front to back, and padding would've either broke the pacing or made me lose interest. I also played on hard, as I do with most games, and that turned out to be one of my favorite shooters last year. So far, this one's been pretty great, too. I'm about 5 or 6 hours in, and I've already gotten my money's worth.

Edited by ZekeFreek

@DrPockets000: @csl316: Give them an inch and they will take a mile. If a 6 hour game is acceptable at 60$, pretty soon it'll be 5 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours, etc. All remaining at that 60$ price point. Is it still worth if they tell a good story? Fuck no.

You can write stories that last 10 or more hours meaningfully. Half-Life 2 was 15 hours long and the pacing was still perfect, so there's no excuse to condense stories into 6 hour chunks. These aren't movies people, these are GAMES. Gameplay drives the car, whilst Story is in the passenger seat navigating. As long as they coexist peacefully, the trip should be long and plentiful.

I want a roadtrip, not a commute.

Posted by csl316

@ZekeFreek said:

@DrPockets000: @csl316: Give them an inch and they will take a mile. If a 6 hour game is acceptable at 60$, pretty soon it'll be 5 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours, etc. All remaining at that 60$ price point. Is it still worth if they tell a good story? Fuck no.

You can write stories that last 10 or more hours meaningfully. Half-Life 2 was 15 hours long and the pacing was still perfect, so there's no excuse to condense stories into 6 hour chunks. These aren't movies people, these are GAMES. Gameplay drives the car, whilst Story is in the passenger seat navigating. As long as they coexist peacefully, the trip should be long and plentiful.

I want a roadtrip, not a commute.

Well, in the 16-bit days, games were shorter and more expensive (especially when factoring in inflation). So we're actually in pretty decent shape now.

Posted by ZekeFreek

@csl316: Limitations of the day. It's 20 years later, we as consumers need to demand more for our money. Keep them on their toes. Make sure they don't revert to lazy decisions.

Posted by BitterAlmond

I'd suggest you play your games at a difficulty level higher than you are. I've been slogging my way through the PC version and have already sunk an easy eight or nine hours into it without finishing it yet. I know I'm damn close to the finale by now, but dying every now and then really lengthens a game and makes it more fun.

Posted by ZekeFreek

@BitterAlmond: First off, I played it on Hitman difficulty (Hard). It only died maybe four or five times the whole way through and still only took me a tad over 6hrs.

Secondly, that's not an excuse for a clear lack of content. It should've taken me 10 hours on the easiest setting and worked that time up with higher difficulties naturally.

Posted by big_jon

I think it all depends on how well the game plays, some shooters can over stay their welcome, and you see games, like Reach that get docked off points because some feel that they continue too long.

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