The Darkness 2 (Video Game Preview)

The last we saw of Jackie Estacado, he had sweet revenge on his mind – and a crapload of trouble with a demonic force. The original release of 2K’s The Darkness managed to turn a few heads in the first-person genre, not only because of its impeccable design, but also because of its gritty tone. The game wasn’t afraid to hold back on tense moments, especially ones involving the death of Jackie’s girlfriend, which he witnessed while standing by helplessly. The game turned out to be a pretty big hit for 2K, and that’s more than enough reason to venture forward with a sequel. A few weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference, we managed to get a sneak peek at The Darkness II, the over the top follow-up to Jackie’s original adventures. He’s back in an adventure that’s even more twisted than ever, thanks to a brand new villain who wants to hoard the Darkness for himself and plenty of new powers that guarantee that Jackie’s not inching away from the bloodshed anytime soon. At the start of our demo, we found Jackie face to face with a menacing madman who somehow knew all about the Darkness, a demonic force that acts with snake-like limbs and keeps in touch with imps that manage to do the bidding of its master. Apparently this guy’s seen its potential, and he knows that Jackie isn’t too thrilled about being bonded with it. That said, he pressures him into trying to give it up, while keeping him nailed to a cross, Jesus style, and trying to force it out of him. But this isn’t where the gameplay takes place.

Rather, it’s told through flashbacks. We then cut over to a sequence where Jackie is walking through a classy restaurant, checking out the people dining around him. His right hand man eventually leads him to a table with a couple of finely dressed women. After the completion of that segment, we were introduced to the second section of gameplay, which involved the powers of the Darkness. Digital Extremes, taking over on development from the folks at Starbreeze, has learned a thing or two when it comes to manipulating these creatures into doing your bidding. Granted, you still have to protect them from light and feed them a steady diet of human hearts, but they’re happily obedient in return, killing bad guys in a number of gruesome yet fashionable ways. For instance, let’s talk about some of the moves. The first has you flinging bad guys to walls, then picking up pipes and launching them directly into their orifices, kind of like a human dartboard. The second actually has you grappling with an enemy, eventually grabbing him with one demon tentacle and using the other to rip through his chest, ala Alien, and eating our his heart that way. But probably the nastiest of the bunch we’ve seen thus far is the Wishbone, where the two demon limbs grab a guy and rip him apart from the crotch. A nasty way to go, indeed.


In addition to providing some killer offense, The Darkness’ arms can also provide cover with the right tools for the job. For instance, one of them can lunge over and grab a car door, which in turn acts as a shield while you can still lean through the window and shoot at enemies. It’s a neat tactic, though the car door won’t last long against the wrong kind of offense. Just saying. Along with creative gameplay components, The Darkness II also features a fresh coat of polish, making it somehow look even grittier than the first game. The environments are outstanding, but indoor and outdoor, and watching thugs fly around the city streets is certainly quite a sight. The Darkness limbs themselves show off a great deal of personality, as they hiss and growl while you meander around the streets, and occasionally enjoy a heart-y snack (see what we did there?) in-between action sections. The audio consists of some top-notch dialogue, and, as expected, Mike Patton of Faith No More fame once again returns to voice the Darkness in all its hissy glory.

In addition to providing some killer offense, The Darkness’ arms can also provide cover with the right tools for the job. For instance, one of them can lunge over and grab a car door, which in turn acts as a shield while you can still lean through the window and shoot at enemies. It’s a neat tactic, though the car door won’t last long against the wrong kind of offense. Just saying. Along with creative gameplay components, The Darkness II also features a fresh coat of polish, making it somehow look even grittier than the first game. The environments are outstanding, but indoor and outdoor, and watching thugs fly around the city streets is certainly quite a sight. The Darkness limbs themselves show off a great deal of personality, as they hiss and growl while you meander around the streets, and occasionally enjoy a heart-y snack (see what we did there?) in-between action sections. The audio consists of some top-notch dialogue, and, as expected, Mike Patton of Faith No More fame once again returns to voice the Darkness in all its hissy glory.
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