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The Darkness II

The Darkness II

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The Darkness II (PC) Review

The Darkness II (PC)

In the entertainment world we continually see crossovers and tie-in’s as executives strive to maximise the potential of their brands. One of the main examples are games released with film tie-ins… or those occasions we all dread where a great gaming franchise is turned into a movie. Rarely does it work out which is surprising considering the cross appeal seems to be there.

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In The Darkness 2 we take control of Jackie Estacado, the main character from the previous game and a helpful catch-up is played out in front of us as Johnny Powel another returnee fills us in on events from part 1. In this we learn that we are the leader of a crime family possessed by a supernatural power, The Darkness, which gives us ability’s well beyond that of the average human. As the name suggests this is a dark power though and in our past has been responsible for the death of many, including our girlfriend. Jackie has spent the past few years, since the end of the original game plot, trying to contain The Darkness as best he can but as our game begins we are dropped into a full scale mob war and to survive the initial onslaught Jackie must let out The Darkness in order to survive. From there we enter into a story where we fight to maintain control of our empire, take revenge on The Darkness, and work out why we keep seeing visions of our dead girlfriend.

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Dissertation Sur La Culture Being a super powered demon mob boss has its limitations though, the main one being that when in light, natural or artificial, our powers desert us. This is known to our enemies and they use it against us, as well as growing in their own supernatural powers as the game progresses.

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Other than the occasional mini-game along the way the single player campaign follows a set path with some minor puzzle solving, plenty of death and destruction and end of chapter bosses are staggered throughout the game adding some extra challenge.

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With The Darkness 2 being based on a comic the developers have made a wise decision to go with a cel-shading technique for the graphics and it works very well indeed. The high quality art mixes well with the extreme levels of blood and gore in the game to create a unique look. On the whole environments are very detailed with plenty of view distance but one aspect does let the visuals down a little, faces. For some reason the designers have tried to take a different approach with the main female character in the game, a different texture really, to the other NPCs and it doesn’t fit in as well. A minor niggle really in an otherwise visually impressive game.

On the whole the audio is also well done in The Darkness 2. Jackie, is voiced well and the various mob characters, though a little stereotypical, are decent. Our main enemies have good voice acting but two areas really stand out, the Darkness voice which is suitably creepy and Johnny who’s rambling is performed exceptionally well by that voice actor. Elsewhere we get a good soundtrack with music which suits the various scenes well and there is plenty of power behind our weapons as well as suitably gory splats and rips as we tear through the various kills.

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One of the key aspects which stands out when playing The Darkness 2 is that a huge amount of thought has gone into the structure of the game. This starts with the decision to recap previous events in the game universe and continues on after this with a very specific style where we see plot progression through an interview like scenario which see’s Jackie explain events to an un-seen character in a dark room mixed with playable sections where we interact with NPCs in our house, or other location. Although these can initially feel out of place, boring and a little tedious as the plot and game progresses they do work well and give a little rest between the decent sized levels and violent gameplay.

And violent it is. Digital Extremes have certainly not held back with The Darkness 2 and its comic style graphics hide a very graphic story where torture, extreme violence and plenty of gore are present. Bodies are regularly ripped apart, impaled, exploded, cut in half, decapitated and even urinated on as we head towards our ultimate goal but it is always done in a less than serious way so as to be entertaining in an over the top sort of way.

The developers have also walked a fine line well throughout the game and while the plot is clearly insane, a number of the characters stereotypical and the presence of toilet humour always a worry The Darkness never goes too far with each, always maintaining a level of quality throughout. Really it comes down to minor issues such as the occasional bug and repetitive NPC animations which are the only aspects to take some shine off the overall experience.

The online modes within the game are also entertaining and offer a different, more varied approach to the same style of gameplay with the introduction of additional characters and skills to keep us interested along with the finding of relics, unlocking of achievements and increasing skill tree.

We found the single player campaign to be most enjoyable though as the great gameplay is backed by a story which is actually worth paying attention too. It doesn’t offer anything ground-breaking, or shocking but it is a solid tale of a supernatural, almost religious battle between the forces of good and evil… or often evil and more evil.

At around 8 hours to complete the main campaign The Darkness 2 offers good value and it’s always a sign of an entertaining game that as soon as completing the story we were already looking forward to part 3.
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Score 90%

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

Stuart Davidson is Senior Editor at HardwareHeaven having joined the site in 2002.