The Darkness II is the second installment in the ‘The Darkness’ series of games & continues the story of the first game forward. The game is set two years after the ending of the first game. With its comic styled graphics, insane demonic/gun battles & really good voice over, this game promises a lot.
The game is based on the ‘Evolution Engine’ which is Digital Extreme’s proprietary graphics engine, but don’t assume that since the game uses a lesser known graphics engine the graphics won’t be good. On the contrary, this game has some of the funkiest graphics ever (only after borderlands). The game looks like it is being told straight from a comic book & fans of comics will appreciate the style in which the game has been modeled as we don’t see a lot of games that look like this. Being a highly cartoony-graphical game doesn’t make the game easy to play or not for adults. This is a mature only game (as rated by ESRB) as it has a lot of gore & bloodshed & the graphics engine not only justifies the amount of detailing present in the game but exceeds all expectations as often people tend to have an inclination towards ‘photo-realistic’ graphics.
As seen above, the engine is capable of spurting out massive amount of details. While the solarized effect on the hand makes it look natural, the reflections on the gun are dynamic which would please the hawk-eyed gamer. As the game is mostly based in the darkness one would think that they cannot expect a lot from the engine & they can’t be more wrong. The dark is detailed as in no other game. One might compare it’s graphics to Bioshock & Borderlands because they are the only two strong contenders. All in all an awesome looking game with a unique touch of comicosity which we do not see very often.
For a horror game to make an impact on the market it must be able to make the gamers quake in their shoes & this is exactly what the game does. Creepy sounds in the background will always keep you on your toes while you’re lurking around in the shadows & insanely good gun sounds (M1911, Shotgun, Revolver etc) will want you to keep shooting bad guys in the head all the time.
The environmental sounds are complemented by a unanimous soundtrack that changes its pace as the game progresses. Just having a nice night time walk in the broken subway & then bam! Bad guys swarm you & eerie music plays in the background that just makes you want to rip them in half, decapitate them or maybe shoot them square in between the eyes.
The catchiest part though is the sound acting which is simply the best aspect of the game. The way the game is told by the main protagonist Jackie Estacado really sucks the gamer into the game & makes them feel what poor Jackie has been through. It’s like bonding with the characters in the game which makes the short campaign even more intriguing.
One might think what kind of a genre is a First person horror shooter. Well you have to play this game to know what it means. It’s not your average out of the mill survivor horror game in which the gamer battles demons. In this game, you are the demon! Jackie Estacado was given this ‘power’ in the first game but he tried not to use it. When his girlfriend Jenny was murdered in the first game, he went crazy &used these powers to bring down the people responsible for her death. Ever since then he has refrained from using these horrific powers, known as the darkness. But as the game starts out Jackie is attacked & he unleashes his fury to find & kill those responsible. This is where things get interesting. Jackie has two demon arms & a ‘darkling’ that is his ally in ripping everything that is hostile, apart. As the game progresses, Jackie can upgrade his powers from weird looming purple holes. The game doesn’t follow the standard health regeneration feature. Rather, Jackie has to consume the hearts of fallen enemies to regain health. Every guy he kills adds some ‘essence points’ which are experience points in the game & can be used to purchase upgrades at the upgrade menu. Though the story might take some time to build up its steam it is surprisingly short. There is a lot of variety in which you can kill, rip & decapitate your enemies & it never gets boring but the play time of the campaign is a letdown. This is where the vendetta mode comes into play. This is a mode that can be played solo or with up to three friends online. You choose one character & just kill opponents. It’s more of a gun & demonic arm slinger contest rather than a side story. But then again, it can be finished fairly quickly. Hence, not a lot of replayability is offered in the game.
Though the gamer will enjoy every second in the game finding new ways to tackle enemies, they might be disappointed with the non-replayability & the short campaign. One other thing that might be of concern is the AI isn’t very smart as they have in some really good titles & open ended levels are absent. All this gives the game a linear run & gun type of feel, though a lot more could have been achieved from this otherwise absolutely brilliant game.
The game’s story is narrated by the main protagonist which is a refreshing change. The insane graphics & near perfect voice acting compliments the ever evolving gameplay style that one can have. Add open ended levels & bump up the AI’s smartness & we might be looking at a serious GOTY contendor.