Demonic entities, gruesome violence, colorful characters, and an entertaining storyline are all part of what makes The Darkness one of the better licensed first person shooters seen in a long time. Developed by Starbreeze, The Darkness makes a great transition from its gritty comic book roots to the PlayStation 3.
The Darkness begins with the main character Jackie Estacado unsuccessfully assassinated by his Uncle Paulie. When arriving home after a short police chase in a downtown city tunnel, Jackie finds that his uncle left him a present in his living room closet. Jackie escapes by jumping out the hallway window, falling to the ground as the entire apartment explodes.
This is where the merciless hate and darkness consumes Jackie.
After the attempt on Jackie’s life, he learns of the demonic presence possessing him and utilizes it to his own advantage. Equipped with demonic arms and the ability to summon darklings (creatures that act as sidekicks), Jackie begins his rampage of bloody revenge and payback.
As you progress through the game, new abilities and side missions will become available. If you are desperate for an extra 2-3 hours of gameplay, side quests consist of mostly murdering random people (one mission including the killing of a lame boyfriend) which really doesn’t provide anything different from the core game. Also as you travel throughout the city, unlockables become available through entering a phone number via telephone or postage through the mailbox.
In terms of the graphical eye candy, Starbreeze has done a nice job with the normal mapping shown on character models, objects, and parts of the environment. However for a game that relies strongly on light sources, I found that the lighting effects were a bit sub-par, especially when in the city streets. It seemed as though that even when all the lights were broken out, there was still somehow light appearing on the street or in the building.
When it comes to violence, the only other game I would say that beats The Darkness would be Gears of War. The game provides not only gruesome defacings and throat tearing attacks with your demonic arms but also shows off cinematic executions when in close encounters with your guns. Fans of realistic gore will admire this title for it’s pure carnage.
However, even with beautiful graphics and violent gameplay, The Darkness falls short with its lack of animations. By the time I reached my 6th hour of playing, I had become bored of the same execution animations and darkling attacks. It would have been nice to see more diversity in death animations.
When playing The Darkness, players will find that it uses a basic first person shooter control scheme. The only thing different is the use of R1 for summoning your darkness powers and L1+Face button for summoning a darkling. There are four Darkness powers (Creeping Dark, Demon Arm, Darkness Guns, and Black Hole) which are sometimes better than using one of your firearms. All powers must be performed in the dark or shadowed areas and new levels in your powers are reached by eating human hearts.
The Creeping Dark ability summons the demon arms which you can use to slither on the ground or walls and creep up behind unsuspecting enemies. You can use this ability to unlock doors, pick up items, and kill attackers.
The Demon Arm skill allows you to shoot out a spike like arm to impale enemies, break out lights, or move objects. This power becomes very handy as it’s easier to use the demon arm to kill the lights then use ammo from your weapons.
The Darkness Guns are firearms that wield their own specific ammunition. One pistol shoots powerful shells which can knock your foes ten feet into the air. The other revolver shoots rapidly, firing similar to a sub-machine gun. However, these guns are no match for your other abilities or weapons. You are much better off not using them.
The Black Hole is a powerful summon in which a dark portal appears sucking your adversary and all surrounding objects into the air killing them instantly.
The Darkness ends with really no excitement left. By the time you reach the end of the game, you find yourself godlike amongst your enemies. The Black Hole summon basically allows you to breeze through any predicament you run into and the AI difficulty doesn’t really increase as you make your way to the conclusion of the game. Also, the animations become repetitive and lack of unique and interesting side missions leaves you wishing there was more to this title.
When completing The Darkness you’d think that the replay value would lie in the multiplayer section of the game. However this is not the case. The Darkness only provides your standard multiplayer modes including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Survivor.
Although Survivor sounds new, it’s really just Deathmatch where players fight one against all. Outside of the match types, the maps are basic first person shooter scenarios and provide more close combat battles then open environments.
Overall, The Darkness is a good title; using gruesome violence and comic-book storytelling to bring life to the gameplay. The Darkness only falls short in a few areas in which Starbreeze can develop upon and perfect if there is ever a sequel.
-The Final Word-
For fans of the comics or players who enjoy first person shooters, The Darkness is definitely a title to pick up. In any other case this is a solid rental.