The Darkness II | Hands-On Preview
As soon as I started up the demo of The Darkness II, I was graciously greeted by one of the coolest logo intros I’ve seen in a while. Not only that, the protagonist, Jackie, was getting his palms nailed into a piece of wood. Now I pretty much figured I was in for a wild ride.
The Darkness II takes place about 2 years after the events of the first game, where Jackie has become a sort of Mafioso type boss, still being haunted by the death of his dear lady friend Jenny, and having kept the Darkness at bay for quite some time. But soon the player will find out that is not going to be for much longer. After being seated across from two “ladies of the night” if you will, the game starts to take a crazy turn. From headshots, to cars through windows, The Darkness II is certainly a game that values its intense set pieces, meant to draw in the player; Being dragged through the restaurant by your buddy while simultaneously shooting the unnamed assailants out for your blood is certainly a very intense and gripping scene. Unleashing the darkness after Jackie had nearly been killed in a gas filled kitchen is truly a frightening experience, and lets the player know just how powerful they have now become.
Now that the darkness has been awakened, the player takes control and the mayhem then ensues. Ripping enemies apart vertically, slicing them in half horizontally with the powerful strikes of the Demon Arms makes for one hell of a violent game, but that violence is not just for show, it plays on The Darkness II’s own look. Not looking very different from cel-shading seen in other games, the game tends to have a cinematic appearance looking much like XIII by Ubisoft, or the movie A Scanner Darkly. At first glance, the graphics may not be all too appealing to the eye, but examining the finer details in the game makes it feel like a beautiful live comic book.
The game handles quite well, although it took me a bit to get used to the shooting mechanics at first. The controls are your basic shooter controls, except that the player controls the left and right Demon Arms with the bumper buttons, respectively, allowing them to pick up various objects to use as weapons, and even pick up the enemies to unleash a gruesome execution for Essence Points. The Points are later used at upgrade stations to purchase upgrades for Jackie. And by just seeing the tree, there appears to be a pretty large list of upgradeable skills, which is definitely a plus, leading to more customization. I personally didn’t upgrade much because I saved up points to purchase one upgrade, which turned out to be the best one I could get my hands on at the moment. The powerup allowed me to fire my gun without wasting ammo, whilst increasing bullet damage, by infusing my weapons with the Dark Essence.
But Jackie isn’t alone. The Darkling makes a return in this game, but actually plays out a bit more fluid than in the past game. Although there is only One at your disposal, he offers much help to Jackie as he playfully runs around and snags a few kills for himself. After he triumphantly took down a baddie and proceeded to urinate on his spoils, I came to the conclusion that this game will continue to have dark humor themes, as I personally found the Darkling to be hilarious.
Just by playing the intro level, I saw quite a bit of diversity in the environments, a sprawling, wrecked cityscape, and a desolate subway filled with some pedestrians my Demon Arms couldn’t wait to devour. It wasn’t until I stumbled into the light that I was reminded of The Darkness’ only weakness, lights. The lights render health regeneration useless, as well as the Demon Arms…Needless to say, they needed to be wiped out. I actually spent the majority of my subway romp shooting out lights so that I may rip the enemies apart without any sort of pause.
The Demo ends quite abruptly with frequent flashes to Jackies torture where he eventually escapes, and his assailants leave him left in a room.
I personally thought that this game can definitely shape up to be another hit, much like the original, although it didn’t exactly receive the commercial success it so deserved. Stay tuned for more news on The Darkness II, and look out for the release, sometime in Mid-February!