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Twice as slice: The Darkness II gives 2012 a bloody start

Monday, 13 February 2012 10:47 GMT By Johnny Cullen

2K has braved a release for a sequel to one of the most underrated gems of this generation. As Johnny Cullen discovered, The Darkness II is more than worthy of the risk.

The story (albeit, a short one), a ton of gameplay improvements, the inclusion of a New Game+ mode and Vendettas co-op make The Darkness II the first game released this year that I actually like.

Truthfully speaking? I didn’t go too far into the original Darkness. I kept telling myself I should play it before its sequel arrived, but I never allowed myself to get dragged into Jackie Estacado’s first waltz with games. I’m kicking myself for not doing so: the sequel is all kinds of awesome.

For those that didn’t complete the Starbreeze original, there’s a handy video at the start of the Digital Extremes sequel that brings you up to speed on the story. From then, it’s action all the way. Jackie is up against a force known as the Brotherhood, as well as his own personal demons – literally. Since the events of the first game, he’s kept The Darkness bottled up, until a hit on him at a restaurant allows a comeback for his otherworldly malevolence.

It’s non-stop violence as you head through parts of New York attempting to identity your would-be assassin. For the first quarter of the game, you’ll come back to your apartment and talk to various key characters who set you up for story missions. In addition, you can talk to any number of NPCs whenever you like.

Starbreeze’s original take on The Darkness was a serious, realistic-looking shooter. Digital Extremes has gone back to comic roots, given the sequel a cel-shaded look that has a lot of similarities to Ubisoft comic shooter XIII. It brings out a unique side to the world of The Darkness missing from the first game. Credit should go out to the DE team for art design; it’s certainly impactful.

Quad damage

The core play concept has remained largely the same, but the introduction of an XP system brings with it a a skill tree. Jackie can buy skills within a specific group to increase the strength of his Darkness powers, such as, for example, new executions. Jackie has demonic tentacles over his shoulders, allowing him to “quad wield”. As well as using guns, he can kill enemies with gruesome slashes, lopping people in half, removing limbs and all the rest of it. You also get to control your British-voiced Darkling pet in certain parts, which breaks the pace. I would have enjoyed a few more of these.

The Vendettas co-op mode.

When the game wraps – the ending leaves it wide open for a third stab – a New Game+ option opens, allowing you to run through again with all the skills you collected the first time.

DE has chucked out the competitive multiplayer from the first game and put in four-player co-op, playable either online or offline by yourself. Vendettas mode lets you pick one of four characters separate from the main story and go on missions – again, outside the main plot – with their own Darkness powers linked to unique weaponry. I haven’t gone too far with Vendettas, but first impressions are decent.

I saw The Darkness II twice before launch, and while I was impressed with what I’d seen, I still underestimated it. Digital Extremes has managed to add its own stamp while staying true to the Starbreeze original. The story (albeit, a short one), a ton of gameplay improvements, the inclusion of a New Game+ mode and Vendettas co-op make The Darkness II the first game released this year that I actually like.

Should probably finish the first one now.

The Darkness II is out now for PC, PS3 and 360.

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11 Comments

  1. DSB

    I’m surprised by how good it is too. I thought Digital Extremes were a bunch of hacks.

    It’s definitely the “biggest” 8/10 shooter I can remember playing. It never really reaches perfection, but it’s just good, unadulterated fun.

    And it’s a really great throwback to FPS’s from the 90′s in the way that it doesn’t try to cover anything up. It’s violent, the good guys are terrible human beings, there’s a pretty raunchy brothel, and there are no excuses made for any of it.

    A videogame with balls in 2012. Special.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    Going to get it on PC, I think. Might wait a bit.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. xino

    if you haven’t got this game:
    STOP PLAYING FPS!!!

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Phoenixblight

    @1

    THis game was actually less in gore than the original.

    I have played it and eaten it and all I can say is the game doesn’t improve upon anything of the original. It was very disappoint especially with the little darkling due was so annoying as much as Jar Jar in Star Wars series. I am definitely glad I rented this game instead of buying. That saved me 60$.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Patrick Garratt

    Heh. The PC Limited Edition just turned up in the post.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    @4 A week ago I played through the original, and I can’t recognize any of what you’re saying.

    The first one was terrible in so many ways. It was mostly big empty corridors full of annoying lightsources, the terrible WW1 level (if you can even call it that).

    It seemed to me like a game that was just struggling in every sense of the word, full of gimmicks that were neither fun nor clever.

    The Darkness 2 takes it back to basics. You aren’t expected to use your tentacles for anything except raw carnage, and the same goes for the guns. It’s just far better designed from top to bottom.

    It doesn’t do anything special, and there’s lots of things that would’ve benefitted from a greater investment (I’d love to have seen more interaction in the quiet areas) but it has some nice writing.

    Personally loved the darkling. A gremlin wearing a cat skin for a hat? Sold. In the first game they were just a poorly implemented gimmick, like most of the mechanics.

    I would’ve liked to have Kirk Acevedo still doing the voice though.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Len

    Have to agree with you DSB. I thought the original was awful.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. YoungZer0

    @6, 7: I still think the original Darkness had a fantastic atmosphere the second one can’t even touch. Pity they threw away the pseudo-freeroam-gameplay. The world felt more alive with it.

    Still dislike the style. Don’t think they didn’t manage to pull off a proper cell shading look. Really, it’s textures with pencils strokes added to them and it’s a big reason why it doesn’t share the haunting atmosphere of the first one.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    @8 But doesn’t the fact that you have to put “pseudo” in front of it pretty much say it all?

    There was really no justification for making those areas to begin with. There were no details, there was nothing to explore except for a few cheap collectibles, and it only served to confuse the player. Plus, you were on a leash anyway. It was an illusion of freedom that the game never tried to justify.

    Don’t even get me started on the WW1 part. It really felt like they just didn’t care to even try and make it worthwhile, so they just made a flat map with a lot of fog, and a few bunkers. Why even bother to set it during WW1? It’s a foggy, anonymous desert.

    I agree with you on some of the art in 2. It’s not a revelation of any sort, and neither is the game. But it feels ambitious as hell to me, and I think it does a great job of owning its limitations.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. YoungZer0

    @9: Like i said, the world felt more alive that way. I agree that many parts of the game were a mess, but that’s something that Darkness II could’ve done better, instead of just abandoning it. And while i love Brian Bloom, Kirk Acevedo created a unique character voice for Jackie. Another thing they simply abandoned.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. DSB

    I’m saying for me it did the opposite. The fact that you had a little square box that was somehow supposed to represent New York streets made it even less believable.

    If it was a city, I’d expect people to be walking around doing something, and there was really very very little of that. Not as much as a cat or a homeless guy in the alley. Even in the subway station people were just standing around or taking a little step to either side.

    To me that’s really not better than putting things on rails and actually making something happen. I got a far better feel from some of the scripted sections in The Darkness 2, like the fat lady complaining about the cooking, or people standing around actually having conversations in the mansion.

    Again it’s not groundbreaking, but if you want to do an open world, then there has to be a reason for it, and in my opinion all The Darkness did was provide a caution against that.

    #11 3 years ago

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    Xbox One owners are about to receive a pile of great new indie games. At GDC 2015, Microsoft revealed a list of new indie games headed to Xbox One. Some of these titles have already released on other platforms, so it looks like Microsoft has really relaxed the parity clause of ID@Xbox – or perhaps […]

  • Here’s an indie VR game made with Unreal Engine 4

    GDC 2015 is blowing up with indie games, VR and Unreal Engine 4, so here’s a video combining all three. Loading Human is a virtual reality adventure from indie developer Untold Games. It’s in the works for Mac and PC, and Sony has given an early green light for Project Morpheus, too, so expect it […]

  • GTA Online: Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode coming next week

    Heists aren’t the only thing coming to GTA Online next week: players can also expect Adversary Modes, new Daily Objectives and other Freemode activities. GTA Online’s Adversary Modes are new PvP modes which feature a range of competitive challenges and will unlock as players progress through Heists. Here’s a rundown straight from Rockstar: Come Out […]

  • Syndicate is the latest free game download on Origin

    The latest free title to be added to EA’s Origin service is 1993′s Syndicate. For a limited time, you can download the game for free and keep it, much like previous titles such as Theme Hospital. The isometric, real-time, tactical-action game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in June 1993. It is a favorite […]

  • Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen now available

    The Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will run you $7.99 and builds upon the existing lore, characters, and storyline. Have a look at some new screenshots in the gallery below.

  • Shadowrun Online gets a name change and release date

    Shadowrun Online developer Cliffhanger Productions has announced the game’s name has been changed to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown and a release date for April has been set. The new title was formed via the developer and its Kickstarter backers, with the goal being to let those unfamiliar with the game know by the title alone […]

  • Amazon hosting Rockstar and 2K Games sale

    Amazon is hosting a Rockstar Games and 2K Games sale with discounts Max Payne titles, Bully and more. Here’s just some of the offerings listed: Manhunt 2 PC Download $3.00 Max Payne 3 PC Download $4.00 Bully: Scholarship Edition PC Download $3.00 LA Noire Xbox 360 $2.95 L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition PC Download $6.00 […]

  • Destiny weekly reset video shows off Inferno Crucible gameplay

    We have a gameplay video featuring Inferno Crucible gameplay featured in the Destiny weekly reset for you. In it, Arekkz Gaming gives you a look at Inferno Crucible and goes over the various intricacies. You can read up on the weekly reset through the links.

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 2 available from today

    Episode 2 for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is now available. If you’ve purchased the Complete Season, you’ll be able to download Episode 2 on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One. Steam players should see the episode go live around 9-10pm PST, and Xbox 360 owners should be able to download very early tomorrow morning, per Capcom […]

  • Here’s a sneak peek video for Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

    Fatshark Games has released a sneak peek video for its upcoming Games Workshop title, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. Vermintide is a FPS, co-op action title coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and its set during the End Times of the Warhammer universe in the city of Ubersreik. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video shows Ascendance DLC early access weapon

    As you know, Xbox Season Pass holders now have early access to the Ascendance DLC Pack bonus weapons for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now you can watch a trailer for the weapon. The OHM directed energy hybrid weapon can switch between an LMG and Shotgun “on the fly,” and it also includes the OHM-Werewolf […]

  • March PS Plus games include OlliOlli 2, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, more

    March PlayStation Plus titles have popped up on the PS Plus page. Noticed by NeoGAF user skynidas, the titles include: OlliOlli2 (PS4/VITA) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (PS4) Counterspy (PS4/PS3) Papo & Yo (PS3) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment (PS3) A notice has also been posted on the EU PS […]

  • Sci-fi horror game Caffeine will release on Xbox One, PS4 alongside PC – new trailer

    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]

  • Fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation is available for download

    The Trigger, which is is the fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation, is available to download from today. In it, players will “compete against the clock” across three new maps in Survivor Mode. Set before the events of the main game, players step into the shoes of Sevastopol Station’s Ricardo who will do what he […]

  • HBO Go app now available on PlayStation 4

    Sony has announced the HBO Go app will be made available for download later today for PlayStation 4. The app works just like the PS version. Now you can watch True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep and more through your console. Information on installation is available through the PS Blog.

  • Skyrim mods no longer restricted to 100MB in size

    Bethesda has announced a beta for Creation Kit update 1.9.33, lifts the 100MB size restriction for Skyrim mod makers. The beta is for both Skyrim’s PC launcher and the Creation Kit which will allow for unlimited file sizes. Here are the notes: Creation Kit 1.9.33 Update Creation Kit now supports unlimited file sizes for mods […]

  • Mad Max release date set for September, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions canned

    Mad Max from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios has been given a September release date, along with the new of a last-gen cancellation. The axing of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were announced via Game Informer. Mad Max is the magazine’s featured game for the April issue. Avalanche, according GI, nixed development on […]

  • MGS 5: The Phantom Pain out in September, Kojima “closing the loop” on saga

    Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be released in September, according to an IGN Italy video, which also features Hideo Kojima discussing “With Metal Gear Solid 5, I’m finally “closing the loop” on the Metal Gear saga. The video has since been removed, but an image cap of the date is posted above. […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 Rockstar Energy Car Pack now available

    The Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is available now, alongside the free car for March. The free car is the Acura Integra Type-R, and the Rockstar pack included the following vehicles: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC 2015 Subaru WRX STI 1996 BMW 850CSi 2015 Jaguar XFR-S 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert […]

  • 3DS firmware update kills web browser exploit

    Nintendo has issued a 3DS firmware update which fixes a web browser exploit that was being used to run pirated Game Boy Color ROMs since January as well as inject code within downloadable games. Another piece of code, per Eurogamer, changed the setting on the handheld to make it region-free. The exploit was only available […]

  • Unreal Tournament video shows updated textures on Outpost 23

    The latest footage from Epic’s new Unreal Tournament has surfaced, and it shows off the game’s first high-textured map which is called Outpost 23. As you can see from Zaccubus’ video, its the same are which Epic showed in the flythrough video from last year, only with updated textures and some new areas outside. The […]

  • Final add-on for Sunset Overdrive arrives in April

    The final add-on for Sunset Overdrive, Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, will be released in April. On April 1 to be exact. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke from Insomniac Games either. Below, you can watch a fist-look at the new story, area, and traversal mechanic.

  • Heroes of the Storm playable at EGX Rezzed

    Heroes of the Storm will be playable at EGX Rezzed. This will be the first UK public hands-on with the online team brawler. Blizzard will also host giveaways and friendly tournaments at its stand. Tickets for all three days of Rezzed are still available, and you can purchase a pass through the official website. EGX […]

  • PES 2015 Data Pack 4 coming next week with Winter Transfers, new faces

    Data Pack 4 for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has been dated, and it updates the game with Winter Transfers, new player faces, and additional stadiums. The latest free update contains real-time player transfers made within the January window, and player ratings have also been updated. Additionally, a number of improved likenesses to key players will […]

  • Here’s the changelog for Dragon Age: Inquisition Patch 5

    Notes for upcoming Patch 5 for Dragon Age: Inquisition have been posted, noting improvements to gameplay and stability, and the new features outlined back in early February. Along with the new party storage system added to the Undercroft at Skyhold, players also have the ability to adjust the size of subtitles. Below you will find […]

  • Game of Thrones, Mortal Kombat X, Batman mobile games on the way

    Warner Bros. has announced free-to-play mobile titles spanning its DC Comics, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones properties. The following five new games under development are: Mortal Kombat X from NetherRealm Studios: The game blends fighting and card collection with cinematic gameplay and Fatalities. Play as both classic and fighters, and if you own the […]