Based on the Top Cow graphic novel of the same name, The Darkness was a bleak and hyper violent first person shooter in which players inherited demonic powers on their 21st birthday. Normally this would seem like a win-win situation but in the case of Jackie Estacado, it came at a very high price. Still all said and done, he’s coped with this gift/curse rather well, becoming a mob boss nearly two years after he sprouted demonic tentacles from his shoulders. But when you wield unnatural forces, life can get pretty hectic as Jackie now finds a weird cult called The Brotherhood baying for his blood and the power coursing through his veins. Thankfully, his powers have been amped up tenfold to counter any sort of resistance he may encounter in his twisted journey.
At its core, The Darkness II is a very solid first person shooter. When I say solid, I mean gunplay of course that feels tight and responsive as opposed to the first game that felt a tad sluggish. Besides the usual firepower at your disposal like pistols and shotguns, players can wield the forces of The Darkness to inflict immense pain and suffering upon their enemies. You’ll start off with some basic abilities like the ability to pick up and throw objects at enemies impaling them in the process but you can soon expand your repertoire of abilities to include some seriously gruesome executions. While I always appreciate the fact that I can impale someone to a wall, I didn’t like the fact that only certain scripted objects from the environment can be hurled at foes. If I can crumple iron doors like they’re made out of paper, why can’t I use the debris as well? Why am I being forced only to use the highlighted iron rods or doors I rip from cars? Still this being the demo, I can’t be too critical of this mechanic as we may have more options at our disposal in the final game.
A heart a day keeps the doctor away
The Darkness has always been a violent game and the first game reflected that aspect to a large extent but developer Digital Extremes really nailed down the brutality of the universe this time around. Besides the impaling I spoke about earlier, you can use your tentacles to bite enemy faces off, tear them into two like a chickenbone or snack on their hearts to increase your health. Combine this with the harsh language and it’s pretty obvious The Darkness II is not for children (I mean come on, the name should have tipped you off anyway). The game now sports a cel shaded look (think Borderlands sprinkled with mounds of blood and gore), something that surprisingly accentuates the carnage even further. I tried the demo out on the PC (through Steam) and it ran extremely well. Frame rates were smooth, the action was fast paced and frantic and controls felt tight and responsive. The default control scheme is a bit messed up but you can reconfigure them to your liking so it really isn’t a huge issue.
He's half the man he used to be
I was a huge fan of this first game so yes, I was definitely looking forward to the sequel but after playing the demo, I’m completely amped for The Darkness II. It looks good, plays well and offers a blood soaked first person shooter experience, something I haven’t experienced since a long time. But don’t take my word for it; the demo is now out for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC so you can try it out before the game hits stands by the 10th of February 2012.