The Darkness II Preview
I was a big fan of The Darkness. I loved controlling those demon arms; it added a unique mechanic to the standard FPS format, and it even let me approach situations stealthily. And while the original developer, Starbreeze, isn’t handling the sequel, I still have high hopes for Jackie Estacado’s dark new adventure. Just as a reminder (the first game came out way back in 2007, after all), a mysterious, deadly power called – you guessed it – “the darkness” makes a home inside Jackie, which gives him superhero-like powers.
And those powers will grow in this sequel. Not long after the conclusion of his first quest, the protagonist found that whenever he commits some nasty, darkness-caused action, some black stuff is left behind. This dark essence is a psychic glob of some kind that Jackie can actually absorb, or the essence can be absorbed into objects. If Jackie absorbs it, he can use its effect to gain new skills and abilities. Therefore, players will have plenty of incentive to utilize Jackie’s highly effective Darkness powers. Don’t just focus on the guns.
Examples of new powers are demonic lift and swarm, both of which could give you the edge against tough enemies. Demonic lift allows you to immobilize airborne enemies, which means that after you slice ‘em up and they go flying into the air, you can stop them from falling and unleash another assault. Swarm causes the demon arms to spit out a green fire, which is inundated with the aforementioned dark essence. That fire nails enemies and stops them in their tracks. Then there’s gun channeling, which actually replaces real ammo with dark essence.
All of these skills can be upgraded to be even more destructive, and that’ll add to the depth. But above all else, I think I’m gonna love that quad-wielding. In the first game, Jackie only had two demonic arms; now he has four. This can lead to a ridiculous number of combinations involving both firearms and Darkness powers, although I wonder if it’ll feel a tad overwhelming. We can’t really control each individual arm, can we? What, map each arm to one of the face buttons? …sounds awkward.
But I’m sure the designers will give us a reliable interface. Then when we consider the more complex upgrade system (really, so many action games are starting to implement role-playing elements) and the very dark atmosphere, we could have a winning formula. As for the graphical presentation, some fans of the original say they don’t like the new visuals, which they see as more cartoony. They were looking for something slicker and grittier, I assume, but I have no problem with the new graphics.
The Darkness II launches on February 7 and if you’re looking to cut lose and go ballistic with guns and superpowers, there probably won’t be a better option this winter.
10/17/2011 Ben Dutka