Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Digital Extremes
Release Date: 2/6/2012
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I have to come right out and say that The Darkness II is disappointing and takes away more good from the first than adds to it. The first game is one of my favorite games of all time because of the amazing atmosphere and linear open world that was delivered with trickling story elements that kept you wanting more. This allowed constant banter between Jackie and The Darkness, but it was that dark eerie atmosphere that kept me wanting more. The side quests were nice and there were some varied environments. The Darkness II takes all that away and makes this a more linear in-your-face type of game. Sure, the storytelling is superb and so is the voice acting, but that linear open world allowed you to explore things on your own.
The Darkness II is about The Darkness finally waking itself back up inside Jackie and he is on the hunt to find Jenny even though she’s dead. A cult group called The Brotherhood wants The Darkness and takes constant hits on Jackie’s mafia family. The story is great and even more deep than the first game, but once again that awesome atmosphere is exchanged for some ho-hum backdrops you fight in ranging from a warehouse, graveyard, and Carnival. What has changed here, mainly, is how you use The Darkness powers because it is the best part of the game.
You can upgrade your powers even more now by earning points by killing foes and finding relics. You can also use the environment around you to kill enemies like using fan blades, poles, chairs, barrels, you name it. The awesome gory death animations make for a visual treat, but you can also tear enemies apart with new Darkness animations and abilities. Eating hearts isn’t the peak of your powers here anymore because you can now upgrade with Darkness armor, shields, ammo producing death kills, and even using your Darkling to sick enemies.
Yes, that Darkling strategy thing that felt like Overlord is gone now. The one Darkling that follows you throughout helps you on his own, but his charming self is still there. He will still fart, pee, and curse his foes down so don’t be disappointed there. I actually preferred this because it jives with the faster-paced action. Gunplay is still a huge part of the game and so is dual-wielding. You can channel Darkness through the guns for one-shot kills, but the guns handle very nicely and are a lot of fun to use. Some other powers range from faster reloading, bigger clips when in darkness, using Swarm to stun enemies, and various other upgrades.
The whole point is to stay in the dark and this time you are thrown more than just light bulbs. The Brotherhood uses light weapons against you and will have traps and random light obstacles set up so you must take them down quickly. Staying in the dark allows you to swipe your demon arms, but you are also thrown more than just humans now. Enemies will be infused with Darkness armor that you must punch through before killing them and some of these guys are tough. Some can teleport around so there is a new level of challenge here, but the big problem is that sheer numbers are thrown at you which can be overwhelming later on.
All this doesn’t sound too bad right? Ripping a car door off and watching it fly through the air and cut someone in half. Watching your demon arms rip a body in half or pull ahead off after stunning them doesn’t seem worse. The fact is the game is really repetitive in the sense that this is all you do. Just running around killing everything in your path with really no strategy. There’s no cover system, no Darklings to use, and nothing but your demon arms and guns. The story elements are delivered wonderfully, but you can’t help but know that it’s just more killing waiting on the other end of the cutscene. The boss fights break things up, but all you do is avoid attacks and blast them to death, and to be honest, late in the game you use your guns more than demon arms because there are just too many enemies to kill at once.
On top of all this, the art style was changed to represent the comics more, which is nice, but the game isn’t technically impressive. It looks a couple of years dated and doesn’t even come with enhanced visuals on the PC. There is an extra Vendetta mode that can be played online with up to four players and introduces four characters with separate Darkness abilities and is actually quite fun. Once you finish these however you won’t be coming back.
Overall The Darkness II detracts so much from the first game that it is almost not even the same. The slower-paced trickling action is replaced with repetitive in-your-face corridor shooting that is better or worse depending on the player. This should be played by fans of the first game just to see the story playthrough, but don’t expect the masterfully created atmosphere and open-world feeling of the first game.