The Darkness 2: A Review
As you probably know, when you enter my Hubs you probably feel relieved. Relieved of worry, lies, deceit and your opinion. And today I'm going to tell you that The Darkness 2 is awesome. That's not an opinion, that is a fact proven by the greatest scientists in the world. And I'm going to give it all the credit it's due because despite it being so good, people aren't on their knees licking its steel boots and asking to be called a "good pet". However I think the hidden message of this game is, "you don't choose the Darkness; the Darkness chooses you!" And too right, as I wouldn't want some greasy unemployed Englishman molesting my plastic case and rubbing his nose in my cleavage. Have you ever smelt a video game case? They're gorgeous! I'm surprised the SAS haven't cracked down on them for being addictive narcotics.
Anyway, the Darkness is in fact based off the comic books of the same name by Paul Jenkins. The first game was released not long after the XBOX 360's release, and the Playstation 3 version came out much later. Now both consoles are still around, they could be released on the same date of February 12th 2012. One could even say now that it's "pretty recent". Unless that's my living-in-my-bedroom-doing-bugger-all syndrome talking. While it may seem perfect, there are indeed some points critics have made which I can agree with. For example, the first game featured non-linear level design and story, whereas this one is linear and there's no lobbies/hubs. Not a single one. Also enemies are predictable and no matter the difficulty (get onto that later too) they just get boring after a while. The story is still good but seems a bit out of place, unless this was covered in the comic books which I can't find here in England.
So without further adieux I must ask you now to grab your Jackies and your Nobbies, for I'm to pour my heart into The Darkness 2 and its review!
WARNING: SPOILERS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH (FIRST GAME)
In the first game, Jackie Estacado was 21 years old when he recieved the powers of the Darkness. This happened to all of his male relatives who got to the age of 21 out of all the brothers. Estacado is a gangster working for his abusive Uncle Paulie, who is one of the few heads of New York's crime mobs. When he kills Jenny Romaro, Estacado goes on a killing spree to avenge her and keep the Darkness under control. He learns that the Darkness has deep roots, going back to WW1 where one of the oldest Estacados fought in British trenches. When he learns why the Darkness keeps him alive and its plans, Jackie fights his way out and plans on killing Paulie.
Cut to two years later and Jackie is now the Don of the Franchetti Family, head of the New York mafia! However it's not all diamonds and eating gold for breakfast, because Jenny is still gone and will never return to him. But things go pear-shaped when he's hit at a local restaraunt, and must use the Darkness which he's caged inside for so long to keep himself alive. Everybody in his Family knows of the Darkness, comically referring to it as "doing his thing". I particularly like this, but why doesn't the Darkness openly threaten Jackie's friends and engage in conversation? Sure it'd be stupid, but there's much worse things in this game. Moving on, the main antagonist of the game is a man named Victor, who is the head of a paranormal and militant organization known as The Brotherhood. I don't get what's with this name, as it's less original than SW:TOR's general gameplay. I've stated in my Bioshock 2 review that the "Evil Inc." cult was bad but this is Army of Two: The 40th Day style bad. Anyway, Victor wants to capture the Darkness claiming that the world's evils will be gone, or he will use it for his own good or something. I don't know what connection he has with the Evangilism (see end of this game and concept art for the first one). But basically, you've got to stop him and his uberbuff monks with UMP-45s.
As you play the game you'll be wondering where the Subway system went and how come you weren't getting lost trying to find "Apartment 423" was. You'll realize that each level follows on from each other, telling the story in a linear fashion. There's few times where you'll get to do favours for other people but instead you'll be getting the chance to play with your homies in your pad. No joke, you get to blast birds with shotguns and shoot bottles around the house. Jolly good fun. But for the most part, you'll be navigating huge levels which will have you shooting out with the Brotherhood, and getting your vengeance on those who dare attempt to kill you. You'll be able to dual-weild and use the Darkness arms too, also known as "Quad-weilding" (will there be Octoweilding in Spiderman 2: The Game?), and the matches you can come up with are rather good. Balancing firepower versus rate of fire is always important, as you may need to do more damage with a revolver and a sawn-off shotgun, or get some range with a Colt and a sub-machine gun. There are the usual two-handed weapons like shotguns and assault rifles, which are beautifully designed I have to say. Another feature is the addition of recticles (not testicles, this game already has them) and the removal of laser sight dots, plus we can now aim down the sights. The game focusses a lot more on its combat than it does its history and horror elements, so that's why the action here always comes first. The whole game is built around one huge Bruce Willis engine. And some.
Controlling the Darkness
When in dark areas, the Darkness can happen, meaning that you'll have a tenticle at either side of the screen which will serve you until you next step into light. The arms have much more use as they can interact with the environment by picking up items such as riot and stone shields, or thrown projectiles like scaffolding poles and even enemies, and even restore ammo and health upon kills! To keep the Darkness active you will have to destroy sources of light such as lightbulbs, stay out of sunlight and shoot out flashlights. The Darkness has an array of perks such as Darkness armour (protects you while in the dark, but you need to upgrade it. Coming to that soon), executions when enemies are weakened and can pick up health (in the form of hearts) and ammo from afar due to extended reach. Unfortunately there's no more stealth gameplay with the Darkness arms, but you do get to control a single awesome Darkling....
Controlling Nobbie, A.K.A The Darkling
This particular Darkling is the embodiment of Jackie's dark psyche, with a thick English accent and a personality to match. If he were a bit taller he could've been a good replacement for The Boys' Billy Butcher! However, I think the septics would be pretty annoyed about Nobbie's "toilet habits" in public. Throughout the game, the Darkling will be your guide and mentor throughout the levels, so long as there's no light for him to stumble into. He'll assist in killing things, kill things on his own and bring you weapons. In some talent trees you can even upgrade your Darkness arms to throw him and make him explode on contact! What an amazing little guy! But that's the least of it. You can even play as the Darkling in stealth-like missions, snapping necks and gouging eyes out! This is only done around four times in the game, but the control is surprisingly good and you want to play as him more and more!
Throughout the game you'll be collecting Darkness Aura, which allows you to upgrade yourself by spending it. There are four talent trees, each of which have their own perks and ways of using them. You don't have to stick with one, and the more times you play the gamemode "New Game +" (saves your talent tree and collectable item progress), the more you can invest in these trees. Some will upgrade your ammo cap, reload speeds and damage, and others will give you different executions, new abilities to use and so on. Find out all you can before investing in them!
Collectable items not only give you 350 Darkness Aura, but Johnny "F*ckin'" Powell gives you a fully voiced history of the item, and does it rather comically when you hover over the item in your pause screen. These items can involve mostly stuff of Cain and Abel (of the Christian Holy Bible), but things of other cultures and religions worldwide, both real and ficticious. All have some connection to the Darkness lore and the Evangalism. These are great items that can help those writing fiction about possessed artefacts, possibly even inspired by Clive Barker's Hellraiser films and novellettes.
Vendettas are the co-op experience in the game which has just appeared to replace the unpopular Quake-esque multiplayer of the first game. Vendettas mode allows 2-4 (I believe up to four, anyway) players to add more to the story by finding other Darkness relics around the world by playing as different characters than Jackie. The whole theme of the Vendettas is the "Meanwhile, in the local tavern, four Darkness users are tasked with the murder of <so and so> and find out what they know about Victor". This is all going on while Jackie is pillaging and ravaging everyone and everything he sees to get vengeance against Victor. The game plays out very similar to the main campaign, only here it's with a score-attack like feel. Players can still use talent trees depending on their character and upgrade them as they choose. My favourite character is Jimmy Wilson, the stereotypical Scotsman who uses Darkling Battalions and a huge Dark Axe to kill all he sees. It's a rather fun mode for singleplayer, but grab a buddy and play together for maximum carnage and fun!
Soundtrack and Graphics
Unfortunately, the Soundtrack wasn't all there which was a shame. I felt like it was missing the battle themes and encounter music from the first game, and instead replaced them with already existing Heavy Metal bands. A lot of it was great but I wasn't paying too much attention on it. With a little more work, it could be something great. But what really does get a kick up its arse is Jackie's voice acting - he's no longer mumbling and gone are the HUGE subtitles in Arial font! He sounds like he genuinely cares, but loses that old Italian gangster charm. In fact, a lot of things in this game do.
The graphics have had a major overhaul and it's something I really like. I wouldn't say they're cartoony though. Paper Mario was cartoony. Is Cartoony even a word? I won't use the HubPages spellchecker because that would claim that "1337" is a word. However the game uses a "cel-shading" software which superimposes images and animations, and many of the environments and characters were hand drawn. You can see all the detail put into every building and surface, which is better than goreous. Amazing use of colour and pencils, I have to say, "graphics here really do make a great game".
I had a lot of fun with this game, so much in fact that I played the game three times in a row, each on different difficulties! It has a huge lifespan and on the first playthrough it feels like it's well over 24 hours (clocked the first playthrough at 18). The second playthrough surprisingly got easier (thanks, Darkness Armour) and lasted 12 hours, and the hardest difficulty lasted 9 hours. It did get boring after a while hence the trade-in, but I still remember so much of it so well. The story is well told and the combat is really engaging! It's dark, it's funny and it shows an epic struggle showing battles between good and evil. Perhaps the game will turn into a better version of the latest Alone in the Dark, with the Evangalism versus the Darkness? I'll admit the ending had me in a mood for five minutes, as I didn't know if the series would continue or not (DO IT! DO IT! DO IIIIIIIIIIIIT!). But with luck, it will and also thrive from players who thoroughly enjoyed both games. My only real complaint is the difficulty and believe me when I say this, but it's easier than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I don't mind easy games, if anything, I hate losing. But even on the final difficulty, everything becomes so unbalanced and the only times you'll die are to lack of concentration or being overwhelmed. Still, a great game nonetheless.
A FULL NINE OUT OF NINE, AS WELL AS THE "CHAINSAW HERO" ACCOLADE, AND THE "MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK" ACCOLADE WINNER! It even gets the John Roberts Seal of Approval, and is officially one of the "TOP 9 GAMES OF 2012!" If there's nothing better than this in the next six months (highly doubt it), it will be the number one game of the year! An excellent game that's for both action and Darkness fans alike, with its explosive sequences and engaging story! I would recommend it at even £60, and if you can get it, the limited edition!
Until the next time, thanks for reading and have a pleasant and dark day, MY FELLOW C*NTS!