An intense first person shooter that delivers a twisted and average narrative of tragedy, modern crime drama, and supernatural horror… But the gore is awesome!
Type: Single-player, Co-op
Genre: FPS, Action
Developer: Digital Extremes
Release date: 6 Feb, 2012
A New Challenger Approaches
What is this? A new reviewer has appeared? Who is this mysterious person, and why is he reviewing an old game?! Well to give us a taste of how he can review a game of course!
There is no secret that the first Darkness game is one of my all time favorite games to ever grace the PS3/360. It was one of those game that the moment I saw JUST the cover, I knew I needed to play it, I needed The DARKNESS! Even to this day, The Darkness holds a dear place in my heart and mind (even if it’s been around 9 years since I last played it.) So when I heard they were making a second game, you bet your ass I pre-ordered this game (PS3) when it was first announced! Having 100% completed it on PS3 in a matter of 4 days, I was left… Extremely disappointed! I was so upset with this game at the time I even got rid of my copy. I’ve since re-bought a copy for the sake of the collection. The only reason I own it on Steam was Humble Bundle giving it away for free, and friends wanted to try the co-op, so figured I’d replay through the game and try to look through this game again, with a more clear mind.
If you are someone that loved the first game, there is a good chance you won’t like this one. It’s DRASTICALLY different from the first game.
The Darkness 2 picks up two years after the events of the first game. Jackie Estacado is now the big cheese of his New York crime family. You start by going on a nice lovely date with two beautiful women, only to be attacked by the mysterious organization known as the Brotherhood, which awakens The Darkness within Jackie. Determined to fight for control of The Darkness, and kill the Brotherhood for their attack… And haunting of Jackie’s dead girlfriend. Time to give The Darkness more power and murder everyone in your path!
Now it’s not as great as the first game, in fact it’s pretty generic and predictable, and in some cases pretty bad. The game starts you at a nice fancy dinner that quickly ends in your family getting hit, only this to have the Darkness reawaken and wanting blood. After getting back to your mansion, you try to figure out who hit you, and that means having to hit up old “friends” to get info. After awhile you are introduced to the best character in the game, Johnny Powell. Johnny is the “Darkness Expert” that helped Jackie suppress the Darkness after the first game, and Jackie wants his help again to contain the Darkness again, but to also help him figure out who this mysterious Brotherhood is and what they want with the Darkness.
Throughout the game you will also find “Darkness Relics” that deal with historical events and mythology, and spin a story on how it effects or relates with the Darkness. Jimmy will give you some entertaining dialogue explaining the messed up history of each item and why they are bad! Very very bad! If you wanna good laugh, here is a video of him explaining all the Darkness Relics.
The path the game takes is extremely linear and will lead you through bars, rooftops, a junk yard, a brothel, an abandoned amusement park, and an abandoned orphanage, while cutting back to your mansion between each “mission” to allow you to interact with characters to hear more story or just hear them banter about what is going on. Though there is one area that really flips the game, and that are the “Asylum” parts. This is where you wake up finding yourself in an insane asylum and the various characters in the game are found here either as patients or the workers. This is honestly an amazing idea and plays out almost perfectly. Just like the mansion though, there isn’t really anything important to do other than make more story.
Vendetta Missions (Co-op) – These are just a series of off missions that happen at the same time as the main story. These missions are pretty much fetch quest items for an item that is mentioned once in the main story, or rescue Johnny and bring him to Jackie, and go find this person and kill them. Nothing really major worth saying. BUT! The co-op story has the most entertaining final boss fight, though like every other boss in this game, quite easy. Just about all the co-op missions take about 5 min to complete, and often rehash some of the same environments as the main story, but again doesn’t really do much for the story.
The main feature to The Darkness 2 is the combat. Compared to the first one, this game is more action and faster paced. The combat is far from terrible. It’s quite enjoyable to be able to dual wield a deagle and a smg, while slashing your demon arm through your foe, ripping him in half. Even just stunning the enemy and performing a brutal kill to gain health/ammo/shield from them, or reducing the cool-down on your powers, is oh so fun to watch every time! Each of the four brutal kill types even have different kill animations as well, so it’s not just the same kill over and over. Killing enemies gives you “Dark Essence” or XP which you use to purchase upgrades. These range from your dark powers, brutal kills, weapon upgrades, different attack moves, health upgrades, and the likes.
You have access to three different powers. The first one being Gun Channeling, which gives a big weapon damage increase, unlimited ammo, better accuracy, and once fully upgraded lets you see through walls and shoot through them. Second is The Swarm, which summons a swarm of flies that swarm enemies to distract(stun) them for you to easily kill or execute them, with upgrades making it last longer, or swarm more enemies. Then finally, there is the Black Hole ability. The only difference is that this ability can not be active. Instead of a heart of an enemy you killed, it will be a black hole that you can pick up and throw to use it. Obviously you can’t use these abilities in the light, cause you know, the game is called The Darkness, your power is The Darkness, so you must stay in the dark to stand a fighting chance.
The game isn’t very difficult. So long as you don’t go running face first into battle, you will cake walk the entire game. Even if you played Don (hardest) difficulty on your first run, you will see it’s a fairly easy game… and extremely linear and short! The first game had “hub” areas that let you travel though the city of New York to get from place to place, as well as explore and interact with the world and mini games and some puzzles… Those key elements that helped make The Darkness feel alive and have an immersive world has been stripped from this game. The only form of this is in your safe house or asylum and talking to the characters, but even then it’s pretty simple, and will repeat dialogue if you keep interacting with them.
The enemies start out pretty simple with generic gangsters with pistols, uzis, shotguns, and pipes or some sort of melee weapon. They don’t offer much of a challenge and are pretty easy to take care of, though you will be fighting a few at a time. You can use your weapons, your demon powers, your demon arms, brutal kills, or pick up items around the areas to through at them which would either impale them to the wall, or cut them in half, or stun them for you to move in for the brutal kill. Did you take some damage yourself? Your health bar consists of 4 pips that if one doesn’t fully drain, will refill back to full after some time of not taking damage. This of course only works when you are in the darkness, standing in the light won’t help. If the pip drains fully, the only way to regain it back is with a brutal kill. Though once you meet the Brotherhood, things get a little more tough and unique. You can tell it’s them with their altered voices and glowing scars on them. The Brotherhood have their own weapons to help deal with the Darkness as well as armor. From a spotlight they shine on you to disable your powers, to a shield that you can’t grab onto, to a chain whip that will steal your weapon that you are using, to even teleporting around the map to flank you. They are more tactical and much more ruthless than your normal gang member. Though shooting them in the head still works fine! After getting a few power upgrades will help make short work of them, and picking up their weapons also helps in dealing more damage.
Another big change from the previous game was how the “Darklings” worked. In the first game you could summon a group of darklings, each with their own abilities, which you would use to either kill the enemies, or solve puzzles to advance. In The Darkness 2 they opted for just one darkling, who also talks to you and gives you advice once in awhile… as well as tries to be the comic relief. This little guy will help distract enemies so you can run up for a brutal kill or focus on other enemies. He will even kill enemies as well if you let him do his thing. You can purchase an upgrade that will let you pick him up and throw him straight at the enemies so he can get to work on their faces. There are a couple of parts in the game that let you control him to complete some “stealth” parts in the game to help open a door, or rescue Jackie. For a little guy he is fun, but I do miss being able to summon an army of minigun wielding minions raining bullets on the mobsters, or summoning an army of suicide bomber minions and watching the enemies freak out as they got closer and blow up.
Vendetta Missions (Co-op) – You have 4 different character to choose from that each have a unique Darkness weapon and 1 special power.
JP Dumond, the Voodoo doctor who commands a Darkness cudgel. His darkness weapon will stun enemies from a short distance for you and your partners, and his power is the black hole power, which he can cast when ever he wants, which tends to make it a little over powered. At first the cooldown is fairly long, but fully upgraded you can just spam the hell out of it and easily take out enemies. His dialogue and voice acting is well done and was pleasant to listen through.
Jimmy Wilson, a drunken Scottish Darkness axe wielder who loves to drink and hates the English. His darkness weapon is an axe that he can thrown and recall at will. It will take some getting used to with the aiming of it, well I at least had a hard time trying to hit with it. His power is summoning darklings that will run to an enemy and explode, a power I wish we had in the single player. Obviously since he is the drunk, he will spout out the humorous dialogue, which is funny at times.
Shoshanna, a former Mossad agent- an ultra-efficient and highly trained agent who wields a Darkness infused sawed off shotgun. Her power is the Gun Channeling, which has the same upgrades as Jackie. Her dialogue and voice acting is well done and was pleasant to listen through.
Last but not least, Inugami, a young samurai who wields a cursed Darkness sword that has corrupted him so much he thinks he’s a wolf… Yes this is the worst character, with the most cringy lines in the entire game. His sword pretty much acts like every other melee weapon, though just slightly faster. His power is the Swarm, and can upgrade just as much as Jackie.
The missions consist of killing enemies and getting to the objective or boss, and about 10 min later it’s done and onto the next mission. Every mission is the same, and it only takes like maybe three hours to beat the “campaign” which isn’t a whole lot. At least the final boss battle is more interesting than the main games boss. After that you have other “Hit List” missions that often recycle maps but slightly change the objective. These missions are a little bit longer, but not a whole lot.
The controls are solid. It plays like your standard FPS would. There are a few controls though that feel awkward to use, like pressing BACKSPACE to check your objective. It’s a minor thing, as you can change controls. All the important power buttons are close together and are shown on screen what power is what button. Everything feels responsive and have had no major issues with controls or lag.
The only REAL nit pick I have is when I want to run up, stun someone, and perform an execution, if there was a heart directly under you/him, you would destroy the heart instead of executing him (even if the execution prompt was on the screen.) The same issue happens when you would try to eat a heart from a distance. There will be an odd time where it grabs a weapon instead of eating the heart, and you are stuck there just switching weapons till it works or you just give up.
Audio for the most part is pretty solid. The voice acting is great. Just about every character’s dialogue is expertly done and sound fantastic. The voice of The Darkness (Mike Patton) is well done yet again, though the lines aren’t as gripping as they were in the first game. This isn’t Mikes fault though. The weapons have a great emphasis and the music is well done though nothing really stands out or very memorable. I’ve no real complaints in this department, only had a few audio glitches, but very minor.
Now this is one of my biggest turn offs about this game. In The Darkness, the graphic style was was dark and gritty which set the mood for the game perfectly. For The Darkness 2 they decided to replicate the graphic style of the comics, which I mean is alright, but this game is FAR from dark! There are no “shadows” or “dark corners” that actually look dark. This game is very bright, and because of that was a huge turn off for me. They also try to do the whole stylized art style with the black outline around each character. The ONLY time you experience a dark area is the carnival horror house, which is a fun section of the game, though like everything else in this game, is fairly short and is over in no time.
Other than that the game has details that are good, with very few blurry textures. Though even on High settings, the game still didn’t look too amazing. Store screenshots look way nicer than what I get in game. There is clipping from character animations from them talking, or performing a brutal execution right next to a wall or object will cause them to clip into things.
Now this is where I state some GLARING issues with the story. Aside from the sub par story and the graphics, there were a few parts that just right on pissed me off to no end. I will mark spoiler if you wish to not read it, though the game has been out for years I’m sure you’ve already read/played it.
—- SPOILER —-
Starting with the scene where they kill your aunt. They wussed out and killed her off screen so you didn’t see anything, where as in the first game, you straight up saw your girlfriend Jenny get her brains blown out right in front of your face and couldn’t do anything about it. It was VASTLY more impacting, as Jenny was built up so much better. They try to get you attached to your Aunt with only some dialogue, but it just falls flat and leaves no impact. Even with the ghost of Jenny appearing in this game, it just doesn’t feel like the same character.
The other issue I had was the iron maiden scene. Right after you get out, Jackie just gets up and walks/runs/jumps around just fine like he was never about to die. This was just a huge story breaker. You would expect you’d have to play smarter as you are extremely vulnerable because you lost The Darkness and on the verge of bleeding to death, especially with how Jackie was making a big deal of it and the game saying you better hurry up! But nah you keep running full blast and murder everything with no problems. There is no time limit either, you can get up and leave the game and it would have no penalty! There is no urgency in saving Jackie.
—- END SPOILER —-
Now for non story related issues. Now there is a decent selection of weapons to choose from, but there isn’t any way to tell what weapons are better or what kind of stats they have. You more or less just have to go off of what weapon feels better to you, or what you enjoy the most. Obviously some weapons are better than others, but like I said there is just no real way to see. Another minor complaint I had was there are certain things in the world that you simply can’t interact with. Like this pigeon I had found in the co-op story. You’d expect that you should be able to kill the thing, but you can’t. It just sits there, it doesn’t even fly away when you get close! This kind of plays into the issue of the world just feeling “Empty.” It’s missing those hub areas like in the first game where you can just see people living their lives and interacting with them or certain objects in the environment, like TVs or phones!
My other issue is that nice little button on the main menu since day 1, “Downloadable Content.” We can all guess that this was 2K fully planning to make some bullshit MP DLC. Thank god it never happened, but I am somewhat curious as to what they could have done, yet that part of me is glad they didn’t. The game feels complete without it. I would gander it would have been like some wave/horde mode maps or something dumb like that.
The Pros & Cons
- Great combat/solid controls
- The power of The Darkness is real fun
- Story is OK, but does have good moments
- Darkness lore is always interesting
- Johnny is the best!
- Darkling companion is enjoyable
- Great Audio
- Stylistic graphics
- Easy achievements
- No Downloadable content
- Story is weak/sub-par and short
- Cliffhanger ending, cause you know they gotta set it up for a sequel that won’t happen
- The Darkness voice lacks impact like it did in the first game
- Could have used a few more different guns
- No way to tell what weapon stats are
- Don’t like it graphically (personal opinion)
- Lacks features compared to previous game
- The world feels empty and boring
- No real puzzles, game is straight forward with it’s “puzzles”
- Co-op is boring, not interesting, and very short
- No Steam Trading Cards
After 20 hours to complete (6 hours to complete the first playthrough, 4 hours on new game + on Don difficulty with cleanup, and the rest jumping around in co-op with friends and solo) it’s not a long game. Is it perfect? No, but it’s not a terrible game. It’s a fun shooter with some gory kills that make you feel like a badass. Is it worth $30 though? No, it’s far too short for the price. On sale it’s worth a pick up, $10 or $15 I say… Or even Free!