Game review: The Darkness II
The Darkness, the first-persons shooter videogame released in 2008, and adapted from Top Cow's comic book series, wasn't exactly a commercial hit. We've finally got that sequel and a lot has changed since. For starters, development duties have been taken over from Starbreeze by Digital Extremes.
The two big changes that distinguish The Darkness II from its predecessor are its art style and gameplay mechanics. The first game had a dark and dingy noir style. This edition the game attempts to emulate the series' comic book origins with a cel-shaded art style that is colourful and vibrant. All the characters and environments look almost hand-drawn with distinctive black borders around all objects, and yet the game looks richly detailed. The Darkness II isn't a technical marvel by any stretch, but it's a fine example of how an artistic approach can overshadow technical inadequacies.
The biggest change in the sequel though is in the gameplay department. "Unique" isn't a word you'd use to describe first-persons shooters nowadays, but that's just what The Darkness II's gameplay mechanics are. The protagonist Jackie Estacado has been gifted (or cursed) with the powers of the Darkness, which manifests itself in the form of two tentacle-like demon arms. In the Darkness II, they combine with his human arms to provide quad-wielding gameplay. What this means is that Jackie can hold two firearms in either hand, and use the demon arms to use objects from the environment as melee weapons, shields and projecticles, essentially giving Jackie four weapons. Because sometimes, two arms just aren't enough.
The demon arms can also be used to perform brutal finishing moves. Ripping foes apart limb to limb and tearing the spine out through an enemy's rear end are just two of the bloody finishers you can perform with just the press of a button. You can unlock more finishers, as well as a bunch of other powers and skills from the RPG-styled skill tree that's new to The Darkness II.
Killing enemies earns you points that you can use to upgrade Jackie's abilities across various categories. If you prefer using the demon arms, you can upgrade his melee kills and unlock more finishers. If you like your guns, you can increase ammo capacity or channel your darkness powers through your guns. The skill tree system lets you tweak the game to your play style and also gives it good replay value, which is needed because the entire campaign will last you just about five hours.
Enemy AI is also vastly improved. The new enemy - The Brotherhood - is far more organized and will use light to fight the darkness. On the downside, this game is a far more linear affair than its predecessor. The game also includes a mission-based co-op mode called Vendettas, which is a welcome distraction once you're done with the campaign.
Price: Rs 2,799 (Xbox 360, PS3); Rs 999 (PC).
We liked: Amazing art style, brutal quad-wielding combat, skill trees add to replay value, improved enemy AI.
We didn't: More linear, short campaign.
Sameer is the cofounder of IndianVideoGamer.com