The Darkness II Review
- Posted February 9th, 2012 at 15:39 EDT by Adam Dolge
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A bloody and entertaining experience that offers a nice break from traditional war-style first-person shooters, The Darkness II may be a bit too linear and short for some, but the action never gets old.
- Quad-wielding combat is a joy
- Some strong narrative elements
- Co-op mode extends the experience
- A bit too linear
- Very short campaign
- Graphics sometimes get muddy
(continued from previous page) ...Jackie’s hallucinations. Without giving much of the story away—and really, it starts off slow, but wraps up quite well at the conclusion—Jackie is not only fighting back the darkness inside him, but he’s also trying to stop the bad guys that want the darkness for themselves. In addition, the heart of the game rests in Jackie’s love for his dead woman, Jenny. This interaction throughout the game is fairly sweet for a videogame.
Outside the narrative, the gameplay is quite rewarding. It breaks away from the original game by offering a more arcade approach to the action, including onscreen prompts that tell you how you killed your opponent, and how much essence (experience points) you earned. This tends to break that level of immersion into the otherwise interesting narrative. Enemies are extremely repetitive, and while they develop new powers and weaponry throughout the game, they are cookie-cutter clones. The level design also doesn’t give you much variety. For example, there aren’t any wide open areas to really thrash around or try a different approach to killing. That’s not to say the levels are boring, but outside the fairly annoying stealth levels—performed as your darkling, not as Jackie—it feels a bit like a typical shooter. The darkness can’t stand light—go figure—and some levels and enemies make clever use of Jackie’s kryptonite. This again, though, falls a bit short. If you are in the light for too long you’ll lose your darkness powers, the screen turns bright white, you’ll hear a loud ringing, and you’ll eventually die. Some enemies will shine spotlights on you, and there is a bit overuse of abandoned vehicles’ headlights creating natural obstacles for Jackie. He can, of course, shoot out most lights or destroy generators that help illuminate bigger lights.
Where games like BioShock really shine, outside the compelling stories, is in the level progression, pacing, and freedom to explore. In that respect, The Darkness II is closer to a Battlefield 3 or Kane and Lynch in that there isn’t all that much freedom in the levels, but the game makes you want that freedom of choice in its presentation and delivery.
The presentation is interesting with the cell shading comic book style. At times, it looks simply awesome. The detail in bricks and lighting is stellar, but there are numerous times the graphics look almost muddy. While I didn’t experience any framerate issues or glitches, more onscreen action doesn’t really help a game with this art style. The audio is quite nice and the voice acting is fairly decent, but nothing special. There are some appropriately placed songs, which gave me a few smiles.
There is cooperative mode that gives a bit more life to an otherwise short game. It’s integrated into the story and allows up to four players to work together in mission-based levels. It works quite well, and gives you a reason to keep playing The Darkness II. There is no competitive mode, which I did not miss and was actually refreshing.
The Darkness II takes a different approach to the original title, and some fans may not like this new approach, but if you are looking for a high-action romp, you’ll probably enjoy it. The Darkness II is a bloody good time and definitely worth a chance. It’s not a perfect outing, and that doesn’t just stem from the short campaign, but there is character in this little game that will probably make you play it in one sitting. For all its shortcomings, there is something so rewarding about ripping enemies to pieces, and perhaps that’s because there isn’t enough game here for it to get too boring.
A PS3 copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. Do you want to know how this reviewer scored the game? Read this to learn more.
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