PS3 Previews: The Darkness Preview

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The Darkness Preview

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Scheduled release date:

June 25, 2007

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

Starbreeze

Number Of Players:

1 Player (16 Online)

Genre:

Action

We all remember the surprising greatness of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, and it turned us onto the name, Starbreeze Studios. Now, an upcoming modern shooter available for the PS3 in 2007 called The Darkness is their next effort, and that's an exciting proposition. Based on the Top Cow comic book of the same name, this game follows the adventures of Jackie Estacado, a young mafia hitman who gets wrapped up in a violent family feud with his crime-boss uncle. Estacado isn't your typical hitman, though; he's possessed by an evil forced dubbed, "The Darkness," which allows him to tap into a slew of sweet demonic powers.

But see, you can only embrace your forbidden ability when surrounded by - you guessed it - darkness. Therefore, if he's fighting out in the bright sunlight, he'll be limited to the typical assortment of weaponry (handguns, shotguns, etc.). But by sticking to the shadows, either naturally created or artificially created by shooting out lights, you gain the supernatural advantage. And while we're describing the core gameplay here, it's a good idea to mention the inclusion of stealth in this title, much like Riddick. One of the most appealing factors of that 2004 Game of the Year candidate was the blending of FPS, stealth, adventure, and RPG elements. The Darkness seems to be following a similar route.

Getting back to those nifty "darkness powers," there are three distinct abilities we currently know about. The first is a long tentacle-like arm that can snag large objects (presumably to toss them at your enemies), the second is the "creeping dark," which lets you project yourself ahead of your physical body (think Prey), and the third is a gravitational power similar to a Black Hole that sucks up everything in a set radius and seals 'em away. These aspects alone are enough to peak our curiosity, primarily because they offer a huge number of options. It looks like you'll be able to approach foes and obstacles just about any way you see fit, and that's a definite bonus.

But wait, it gets better. Jackie also has the inherent ability to summon these creepy little nasties known only as "darklings." They arise to assist Jackie and act as infantry allies, for the most part. But at the same time, they retain the dark comic style that fans will instantly recognize, and they'll even add insult to injury by urinating on corpses. Comedy isn't lost on these denizens of the night, either, as they'll often toss up a Touchdown sign after a particularly over-the-top battle. Furthermore, there should be 10 different types of darklings, and each will have their own set of statistics and skills, along with a unique default weapon. This should add a good bit of strategy to the core gameplay.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to perform hand-to-hand melee attacks, which is a disappointment because Riddick sported arguably the best first-person hand-to-hand around. However, you do get these things called "gun katanas," which are strange but powerful gun-oriented instant-kill maneuvers you can execute when up close and personal. Then your Darkness powers awaken, and you're suddenly presented with a whole new array of combat options, and oh yeah, Jackie might suddenly have two heads. Not that that should scare ya; after all, he's got demonic powers, so his appearance might be a tad frightening.

Your enemies won't just be a bunch of mindless mobsters, either. As you progress through the game, your foes may start to possess similar powers to yours, which will undoubtedly prove to be a larger challenge. And for an even greater challenge, Starbreeze is planning a fully-realized multiplayer component for both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. All we know right now is that there will be a maximum of 16 players for Live, but the Network may boast a larger limit. If you're a fan of online play, you may want to keep checking around for further info regarding the multiplayer aspect of The Darkness.

They're also enlisting the help of some top-notch industry talent for the voiceovers; Kirk Acevedo (HBO's "Oz") will play Jackie, Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under") plays his special girl Jenny, and Mike Patton (Faith No More musician) as The Darkness itself. Yes, apparently, even the darkness has a voice. And the presentation continues to impress with a way of storytelling that's much like channel-surfing: you'll be able to switch between full-motion video clips on a TV, from a news report detailing your own exploits to, believe it or not, something like the film "Nosferatu," shown in its entirety.

So far, The Darkness seems to have an awful lot going for it, so we suggest you add this one to your watch list for 2007, if it's not on there already. As of now, it holds a April 2 release date, but it's not written in stone, of course.

12/11/2006 Ben Dutka

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