Satisfying Up to a Point.
I'm still amazed that we got a sequel to The Darkness. I felt the game was long forgotten as one of the early Xbox 360 games, in the Pre-Halo 3 era. Yet somehow, we managed to get a sequel, much like we are getting a sequel to Prey this year.
The Darkness II takes place two years after the events of the original game, and when we meet up with Jackie, he is still haunted by the death of his girlfriend. It's what consumes him, well that and the darkness of course.
If there's one thing The Darkness II excels over the original, it is turning everything up to 11. Where the original really had the "Starbreeze feel" of go anywhere and explore kind of Riddick vibe to it, Darkness II is a straight up linear action game. This is a frantic first person shooter, and the action almost never lets up. The few times it does, these are nice breather moments to fill in some story.
Upon immediately playing the game, you will notice the difference graphically. Digital Extremes decided to go with a "XIII" vibe, and give the game a cell-shaded look. Well I'm not the biggest fan of this look, I can honestly say that it works for The Darkness II in every way possible. It does the best job of making you feel like you are playing a living and breathing comic book since "XIII". The next thing you will notice is the change of leveling up and gaining experience for your kills. You can unlock more special powers and executions through a rather extensive skill tree, one that requires two playthroughs to fully max out. I enjoyed this aspect of the game quite a bit, and it works really well. The Darkness II is a violent over-the-top game, offering some of the most intense kills you've seen in a video game.
However, not all is well in the world of The Darkness II. For starters, the game is over almost as quickly as it begins. My first play through took me about five hours, and that's nothing for an fps. Hell, even the latest Call of Duty took seven hours on veteran. When that's done, you have a co-operative mode to enjoy, but the problem with co-op is that instead of playing as Jackie, you play as four "apprentices", each carrying a unique power. All of these unique powers Jackie has, making each of these characters seem like a waste. The co-op missions take place during the storyline, so I'd advise anyone playing this game not to touch these missions until your first playthrough is complete. Every co-op mission revolves around finding and defending a stolen darkness artifact. Well I will praise Digital Extremes for going this route instead of introducing a failed and flawed multiplayer experience, the co-op mode is even shorter, and offers no reason to ever play it again.
My biggest complaint with The Darkness II however, is that the ending level is just complete garbage. I won't spoil the end for you, but it involves something that borders on stupidity. And the game does set itself up for a third game.
At the end of the day, I enjoyed most of The Darkness II, despite it's shortcomings. I would recommend though, this is a great game for $20, maybe even $30, but not at the $60 pricepoint. Wait a month or two, get this on the cheap, and enjoy it then.