The Darkness II

8.0 Overall Score
Presentation: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 6/10

Great Presentation | Gameplay

Short

A lot of people complain about how generic the FPS genre has become in the past few years, but I believe that is a very narrow thought. If you see the genre as simply military shooters, then you simply aren’t looking. In the last year alone we’ve had countless new first person shooters that have tried things new (Bulletstorm anyone?), and The Darkness II follows in their footsteps.

Full disclosure: I did not play the original Darkness. I remember being very excited to play the original after looking at previews, but after playing the demo I was less than impressed. Something felt off with the controls. It just didn’t feel right and felt very cumbersome. I’m glad to say that the sequel fixes this. The shooting is solid and responsive, and as the Darkness infested protagonist Jackie, you feel like a total bad-ass.


The gameplay results in one of the more unique experiences I’ve had with a shooter in awhile. While still a corridor shooter at heart, the Darkness II’s mechanics are what really shine. Jackie has two demon arms in addition to his two hands, resulting in four attack inputs, and this is before we include the other rechargeable power ups that can be upgraded. While it takes time to get a hang of, once you do, the combat is rewarding and very satisfying. Though I suggest you play it with a controller. I played on PC, but with a USB xbox controller. Trying to control all of Jackie’s actions with a mouse and keyboard can become a little difficult.

The weapons have a strong sense of weight and power behind them and aiming is very responsive. The controlling of the demon arms could have been a little more refined (there will be many moments when you pick up the items you hadn’t intended and the slashes sometimes feel a little off), but overall the combat is solid and original. You can shoot with guns and dual wield, attack with the demon arms in various directions, pick up objects and hurl them at enemies, use power ups like blackholes and a Bioshock-esque bee swarm, and grab enemies. Plus there are many different enemy types and you have to stay out of the light/shoot lights or you will get hurt. Needless to say, you won’t get bored with the combat.

I also like how this game handles ammo and health. Where as we all know Halo messed everything up and now every game has to have rechargeable health, the Darkness II creates a different solution I am quite the fan of. The problem with the recharging health is you must essentially run, cover and wait. In the Darkness II you regain health by eating the hearts of dead enemies using your demon arms. Health still recharges, but only a little bit. What happens is the whole run, cover and wait problem is gone. If you are low on health you instead want to either kill that one last enemy and eat his heart, or quickly risk your life trying to find a corpse. It creates a much faster pace for the game that I really enjoy.

To accompany you along the way you are treated to the antics of the Darkling, a little goblin like creature made by the Darkness. He will run around and guide you and attack enemies, and oh yeah, fart and piss on things. No I’m not joking. He will piss on dead enemies, fart and waft it around, and even uses his pee to put out fires on occasions. Personally its a miss for me and I found it as a cheap laugh in a game that tries to be quite serious, but I know many will find it entertaining. At certain moments you will control the Darkling, but its not very invasive and quite short. Nothing major really.

There are a few boss battles throughout the game, but none of them are really anything special. Almost all of them are simply “shoot this guy with a ton of health till he dies” bosses. Can we all admit that boss battles should be a thing of the past? It’s rare you get a boss battle that actually works. Just saying.

Where the Darkness II really shines though is its presentation. You never feel bored. Ditching the style of the original, the Darkness II opts for a cell shaded comic book style which works considering this is an IP that started as a comic book. While the style results in some muddy visuals at times, overall it works great.

Enemies are executed in a fountain of cartoon-ish gore and each character really comes to life with expressive features. I played on my average PC, and was surprised how optimized and well the game ran. Animations do get quite wonky at times though and you will get the occasional sound break.


Whats fun about the game though is the constant dilemma you deal with as a character. I don’t want to give too much away, but you constantly don’t know what is real and what is a figment of the Darkness’ sick imagination. You know those scenes it certain games where you go “This is f**cking cool”. You know the Scarecrow scenes in Batman Arkham Asylum, the opening Prison scenes in Riddick Escape From Butcher Bay. Well essentially the whole game of the Darkness II is like that. Once again I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story is presented through numerous scenes where you simply watch and play the role as Jackie, and its great. I wish Jackie was a little better acted and maybe more developed (I felt a little distant from the character overall), but the world around is what makes the game. Most of Jackie’s lines fall flat which adds to this distance, but otherwise the voice work is quite impressive (see the character Johnny Powell).

This game is grim though, lets get that straight. Graphic deaths are constantly shown to the player. For example, early on in the game two attractive blondes are shot and murdered right in front of you, and then a truck blasts through the wall right behind them and into them. Scenes like this are shown constantly to players. Though the comic book visuals offset this slightly, overall this game is not for the faint of heart.

The story is kind of hit and miss with a less than satisfying ending (there are 2 endings by the way), but once again the scenes that are presented are so damn good that its almost entirely forgivable. To be honest, I was kind of confused of what the hell was going on story-wise (much probably due to me not playing the original), but it didn’t matter. Seeing some scenes are extremely emotional and moving to a level that is rarely found in games, let alone a first person shooter. But then a realize that a minute before there was a darkling pissing on a guys corpse while laughing and humming and it all kind of a little off.

And that is my overall impression with the game though. I loved playing it and I honestly would recommend it to anyone who feels the genre has become stale. If you say that, then god dammit play this game now. The weird thing is it just didn’t really stick with me. Everything about it is great. The combat is balanced and fun as hell, the style and atmosphere are great, and there are scenes throughout that are simply amazing. But overall I finished the game and was just like “well that was that”. I by no means regret playing it and while playing it I was having an absolute blast, but I wouldn’t play it a second time through (there is a new game+ option by the way). I had a similar feeling after playing F.E.A.R. 3. The combat was great and it was scary, but I finished the game and didn’t really want more. Lets add in the fact that the single-player campaign is roughly 6 hours long and there’s a problem here. There is a multiplayer coop mode that extends the gameplay by a few hours, but its nothing really special. It adds to the story here and there and is good fun, but it don’t hook me.

Overall i would recommend the Darkness II to anyone looking for a fresh first person shooter. At a $60 price tag, the content is quite small, but I had a lot of fun with the Darkness II. Its an experience.

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Author: Chris Fadeley View all posts by
I am UF alumni and a computer engineer. I know virtually every useless fact about videogames ever. I like computers and potatoes.

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