Jackie Estacado returns in the Darkness II to continue whining about how he lost his girlfriend. Read a comic Jackie, it happens. Actually, you are a comic. So, no real surprise there.
We as players, however, get to feed off that anger to release the Darkness that Estacado has pent up for so long. And when it comes out, we get a much more quick-paced action shooter than the first Darkness game. This time around, developer Digital Extremes adds a lot of flavor to what I’ve come to call not just Franchise fatigue but genre fatigue. I love the FPS genre and it has served me well with many hours of gameplay that I can jump into and out of very quickly. However, the constant military shooters have begun to strain the same mechanics. I have longed for something fresh and new. It might struggle in a few areas, but I do give The Darkness points for adding a new innovation, albeit slightly flawed in execution.
Astoundingly, it is the quad-wielding mechanic that added such flavor. It takes me from constantly having to duck and cover to keep from getting hurt too bad to being able to give in to that frustration of “going all Rambo.” I’ll turn a corner and rip two guys apart before laying a whole clip from an SMG into the next poor sap to cross my path. It is a great concept that drives home the idea the story gives you that the Darkness host is supposed to be almost god-like. Yet, it balances this with ammo needs and swarms of highly aggressive enemies so I am not too overpowered.
On the other hand, all your enemies seem to trigger right on top of you. You’ll reach a point in the stage often where you trigger the enemies, but before you can take a good position, they are already all around you. It’s seems Digitial Extremes was trying to add a high-tension battle idea, but all they came up with was a game that relies highly on reflexes rather than a sense of action combat.
The fast-paced game does take a slow turn in a few spots as you take control of the darkling ally you have. This marks a major change away from the games core and turns it back to the slow stalking stealth game style from the first Darkness game. It is a nice break that tries to keep the game fresh and enticing for the player.
Also this sense of power that drives me so well in this game tends to get bland as there is not a large variety in enemy types or weapon types for you to use. Because of this, the combat design suffers.
There is a nice upgrade system that I felt worked well, adding new tweaks to your abilities, but this lack of combat depth really doesn’t allow the combat to grow and change. It’s the same from start to end. Still, the story helps keep you going and you may not have time to notice the unchanging combat with the games quick pace.
The downside of the quick pace is how it will push you through the entire story inside of 10 or 15 hours. However, if you expect a long epic storyline from a FPS game, you might be a little crazier than Estacado here. There might be one somewhere but I haven’t found it yet.
Although a little short, I enjoyed the story behind this game. I do get a little urge to slap Jackie after the fiftieth time he whines about his dead girlfriend, but it has its place.
With a new antagonist for the sequel, Jackie, rather quickly, becomes unhinged enough to let go of the Darkness. But he drops into a homicidal rage and Jenny comes up again through hallucinations. The story does throw a great wrench into the almost monotone delusions as Jackie wakes up in, minor spoiler here, a mental hospital. It took me quite a while to figure out which reality was real. So, even though the story seems to be unable to take a step without having Jenny be the catalyst. I didn’t really mind much with the twist. And the story continues even after you finish the main campaign.
The Darkness II adds a little extra to the story through a cooperative mode called Vendetta missions. In these Co-op enabled missions, you can choose from one of four different characters who all have a darkness-created weapon. While none of these people are as powerful as Estacado himself, they make it up in the team idea. The missions revolve around Jackie’s main story. Along the main campaign, Jackie sends out Vinnie, part if his mob family, to take care of something or retrieve someone. Vinnie then turns to these four to accomplish the mission. The story tie-in is nice and lets you re-watch the whole thing from an outside perspective.
Overall the game is fun despite the redundant and mindless action. It might get a little frustrating at certain points where you pretty much get ambushed, but just work through the stress to enjoy the innovation of the added elements. The story will help a bit.
This is a game worth playing, but maybe not shelling out the $60 to buy now. My suggestion is to keep it in that back of your mind and pick it up after a price drop or two. My rating comes down to 7 out of 10.