The Darkness II – Review (PS3)

I didn’t play the original Darkness game, though I heard mainly positive things about it. It happened to come along at a time when I was snowed under with other games and it was one of the titles to get left behind.

There were some questions regarding the sequel as it was handed to a different developer (Digital Extremes) and people were wondering whether they could capture the spirit of the first game and comic book series.

Jackie Estacado is once again the main character of the game and following the events of the previous title he now finds himself as ‘Don’ of the Franchetti family. The Darkness II is set two years after the last game and Jackie has been doing a great job of keeping the ‘Darkness’ (a hugely powerful supernatural presence) under wraps.

As the game kicks off, with a wonderful opening sequence, Jackie finds himself close to death and releases the Darkness once more – dealing devastating damage to his enemies and allowing him to recover quickly from his injuries. From there on out you’ll guide Jackie through various scrapes and even make some choices that can affect the outcome of the game.

The Darkness II plays like your average first person shooter… right up until the moment your release the Darkness. The power manifests itself as two demon snake-like tentacles. Controlled with L2 and R2 (L2 to grab an enemy, R2 to swipe an attack at them) this means you have twice as much firepower as usual and can hand out some serious beatings to the onslaught of enemy thugs.

Although it sounds like a lot to concentrate on, it soon becomes second nature to grab an enemy with the Darkness and use one of the face buttons to rip him in half, all the while shooting at other enemies using R1. Pressing a face button while an enemy is grabbed will activate an execution animation which, depending on the button, will net you a health bonus, more ammo or a piece of the enemy as a shield 🙂 While the animations are limited I personally didn’t tire of them at all.

This could be down to the fantastic cell shaded art style which gives everything a great sense of sharpness. The Darkness II looks amazing and manages to keep things running smoothly, even at particularily hectic moments.

The story is well told and I think one of the more interesting campaigns I’ve played so far this year. I really liked the characters and while the end of the game wasn’t exactly a massive surprise it made sure you’ll be hooked for a third title if they make one.

One of my few complaints was that in the final third it felt like the game ran out of ideas. The steady stream of new, different enemies gave way to just more of the same enemies. One particular fire fight went on for far too long simply because the game was hurling enemies at me left, right and centre – not in a challenging way, in a frustrating way.

Unfortunately it slightly soured the overall experience for me as I felt, in the end, the game was probably an hour or so longer than it needed to be. Cut a few of those elongated fire fights out and the campaign would’ve been nearly perfect.

I could go into more detail regarding the story but I don’t want to give anything away for those yet to play it. Needless to say it does some very interesting things and makes you question exactly what Jackie is doing.

The Darkness II is a hidden gem in the game releases of 2012, I’d recommend you unleash your inner darkness and give this one a shot.

Rating: 8/10

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