Interlaces all great aspects of a singleplayer FPS
I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into The Darkness II. To me, the original game was a one-off title that wouldn’t stay in the minds of most people for very long. Despite that, I’ll never forget the high intensity gore and violence the game employed. Digital Extremes was very focused on a specific tone for The Darkness II and the end product succeeds in everything it sets out to accomplish in a glorious violent fashion. Mob boss, Jackie Estacado, is possessed by a malevolent evil simply known as “The Darkness” (voiced by Mike Patton). Jackie has kept The Darkness at bay for the last two years since the events of the first game, but after an attempted hit on Jackie by a mysterious group; he is forced to let out the evil that has been dormant to escape certain death.
The mob background is played pretty straight while interlacing all the super natural stuff in fun and surprisingly fitting ways. You can literally rip out the entire demon related story and gameplay elements while still maintaining a decent gangster atmosphere. Between stages, the player is shown monologues from Jackie. This is where a more detailed background on the protagonist is presented. The monologues ultimately serve to hide load screens, but serve as an enticing avenue to learn more about what’s going on. Jackie will reflect on good times spent with Jenny, what the Darkness means to him, and even simpler stuff involving his childhood.
The Darkness holds a place in comic books. However, I’ve never read any of them and never felt like any points of the story needed to be further filled in nor I needed more background. This sequel takes a new artistic approach, leaning towards its comic book presence. The world is lightly cel-shaded with hard black lines comprising the details, resembling something like Crackdown as a best reference point. Don’t take this to mean the game is cartoony looking, or that this style takes away from the macabre. The blood fills the screen and I was constantly reminded I was doing very bad things to people.
From the start, the player is armed with a voluminous amount of options to conduct disgusting murder. Yes, you can use guns, and the gunplay is satisfying. However, moves involving The Darkness is where the fun is at. Like in the first game, The Darkness takes the form of two monstrous tentacles. One tentacle serves as grabbing foes or objects in the world; the other is used as a melee attack. At any point, the player can perform an Execution. This is where The Darkness II shines. The executions best resemble fatalities from Mortal Kombat. The Darkness will literally rip dudes in half; eat their face, and conduct many more gruesome kills that are surprisingly clever. Not to mention The Darkness must feed on the hearts of corpses. The kill animations are lengthy, but are always a gory spectacle. At no point was I ever annoyed by the long animations, nor did I ever feel like they resulted in my death.
Like any other action game made in the past three years, The Darkness II does indeed offer multiplayer. The co-op mode,Vendetta, can mostly be summed up as a mode were up to four players (or you can play by yourself) fight through various stages. There are several characters to choose from, each having a Darkness power to replace the tentacles, such as an axe-boomerang. Vendetta is ok at best and does let players see behind the curtain on events that were going on when Jackie was out tracking down the main game’s antagonist. The co-op can be completed in no time at all and just serves as a distraction from the main game. The campaign does offer a New Game+ that allows the player to bring in all their skills acquired through their first adventure and increase the difficulty. Most people will probably complete the story in about 5 hours, but the New Game+ enticed me to do a second playthrough like Resident Evil 4 did.
I originally picked up The Darkness II thinking it’ll just be a decent shooter with some gimmicks I can play just for the sake of playing a new game. I was pleasantly surprised at the attention to detail in virtually everything the game offers. The story is well told and is complemented by the incredible acting and motion capturing. Characters come to life on screen really driving home the story. The Darkness II is ultimately a love tale that touches themes such as insanity, mafia life, and lust for power. The incredible story interlaced with glorious combat is a real treat for anyone.