The Darkness II Review (PS3/360)

February 9, 2012

PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

The Darkness II is the sequel to 2007’s The Darkness, developed by Digital Extremes and published by 2K Games. It has been over four years since gamers got to jump into the dark boots of Jackie Estacado for an evil tale. Will The Darkness II be the worthy follow-up this franchise needs? Let’s see…

Story: 4/5

The driving plot of Darkness II is a mix of The Godfather meets The Exorcist. Paranormal horror and gangster shootouts combine to make the storyline work out to be surprisingly refreshing and fast paced. Inspired by the comic series, Darkness II stays more closely to the graphic novels than its predecessor did. It is, however, a direct sequel to part one with the game’s protagonist Jackie Estacado. Jackie must now bear the duty of overseeing a crime family while keeping his paranormal curse, the Darkness, locked inside of him. Jackie is still troubled by the slaying of his girlfriend Jenny; though two years have passed, he has tried to move on as best he can. Unfortunately, this does not last long. Jackie is enjoying dinner one night at a local restaurant operated by his crime family when an assassination attempt occurs. At this very moment, the Darkness inside Jackie that has been dormant for over two years has now awoken and wants Jackie to use it. The original installment’s theme was very dark and depressing. In Darkness II, the theme only intensifies to a point of bleakness that Jackie has never known. The driving point of the plot does start to lose its punch about sixty percent through the game. This happens mainly when you find out what exactly Jackie is truly fighting for which most will feel a tad let down by.

Gameplay: 5/5

First off, Darkness II is not a typical first person shooter. With the powers provided to Jackie by the Darkness, the gameplay is relatively different and more varied than most other FPSs out there. Secondly, the controls in Darkness II are solid and responsive. The combat system is incredibly flexible, frantic and above all, fun. You have basically four arms to pact out damage. You have the two Darkness snakes that hang over your shoulders, and you have two human arms. Your human arms can single or dual wield guns while at the same time stab, grab and throw objects with your Darkness arms to multiply your damage output. Digital Extremes did an exceptional job working in all the Darkness abilities while fitting in the standard FPS controls. Jackie’s abilities are a “gift” which grants him the ability to have 2 tremendous-powered tentacles that can rip up objects such as street lights, car doors, fan blades, explosive tanks, and more. You can use these items either as long-range weapons or sometimes defensively as shields. The tentacles are also utilized to strike or grab enemies from afar. You can even rip them to shreds, which will usually yield some sort of bonus in the form of health, ammo or perks. Digital Extremes brought in a new physics system that allows the player to interact with the environment further. Jackie can use his powers to scoop up weapons and ammunition, rip down certain doors and walls, or break through locks. Picking up a parking meter and throwing it like a javelin with the other demon arm, all while you are blasting through a car door window with a shotgun and an assault rifle is all part of the fun.

The new and improved “quad-wielding” allows you to shoot guns in each hand as well as wield each demon arm at the same time (similar to the first game but with some nice extra tweaks). Jackie can literally be attacking a poor foe with four different ways at once. Unlike the first Darkness, you can now only summon one Darkling as opposed to multiple ones suited for specific tasks. This is a good thing however due to the fact that this Darkling becomes more of a companion to you then in the first game. In part one, you never really had a connection to your little Darklings no matter how many times they protected your life. All of Jackie’s paranormal powers including the Darkling can only be utilized in the dark, so it is imperative to stay out of the light and extinguish any light sources that may get in his way. The light will limit the amount of self-healing and special abilities Jackie possesses. Another new feature brought into Darkness II was an RPG style upgrade wheel that includes powers, weapons, health and executions.

Execution abilities grant Jackie “dark essence” points. Dark essence allows you to upgrade Jackie’s capabilities. Possibly the most twisted aspect of this RPG theme is that you can gain more essence points by getting more creative with your kills. Eating enemy hearts will regenerate health and unlocking specials will give you access to a ton of new moves. If single player just isn’t your thing, there is also a brand new 4-player Vendetta Co-op side mission quest offered for the first time in a Darkness game. By uniting wave-based horde and hostage rescue missions, Vendetta becomes a fairly fun online component that is definitely worth exploring. The highlight of this mode is that all of the side quests will tie into the main plot perfectly, creating a more fleshed story in the single player. Lastly, there is a “new game plus” mode which does allow the player to replay the game at a higher difficulty with all your new upgrades, making the replay ability higher than the first title.

Graphics: 4/5

The Darkness II is a fresh and great looking game with a consistently smooth frame rate throughout (note this review is based on the PS3 version). The cel-shaded graphic-noire style works superbly. The new visuals somehow transcend the blood and gore of the game into something more graphic and brutal which works well into the theme. Overall the jump in visual style from the original to the sequel was a big gamble. However, the outcome in turn created a much richer and deeper experience that felt new again while retaining the colors of violence so well.

Sound: 5/5

The audio for the original Darkness was not only outstanding, but was personally one of my favorite voice acted games of all time. In this sequel, the audio and voice work retains its reigns at the top. Satisfying sound effects and a few memorable music tracks here and there make the game sound like a true gem for fans of the series. One of my favorites aspects of Darkness is that all of the voice actors actually sound like they are from New York! There has been more than a fair share of New York gangster type games where the voice acting comes off as a guy from Des Moines, Idaho trying to sound like a tough New Yorker and it never works. In Darkness II, they not only nail it right, they also act out their roles in a deep and believable nature not often seen in games or movies today.

Overall Score: 18/20 = 9.0/10

The Darkness has gone from being a title that was swept under the radar in 2007 to now becoming an established brand name, thanks in part to its sequel’s success. It is almost impossible to imagine not seeing the slick, dark and cool Jackie Estacado back again in the near future. Here’s hoping to Darkness 3.

PROs:

+ Excellent visuals that are unique and original

+ Sound Effects and voice acting are superb

+ Perfected Gameplay

CONs:

– Story, while great and fast paced is still missing a stronger plot that the first game had

– It ended! No really…when is Darkness 3?!

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2 Comments on “The Darkness II Review (PS3/360)”

  1. j Says:

    That what I want to know will there be darkness 3? The 3rd one
    will be epic darkness vs Angelus.

    Reply

    • R17 Says:

      Without giving any spoilers to future readers, I can only say that there must be a sequel to properly finish off such a fantastic franchise!

      Reply

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