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The Darkness II Review

The Darkness II Review

A problem highlighted so often in the first-person shooter genre is the lack of any real story. Too much focus is placed on heart-pounding action and it tends to draw away from the identity of the character, and what they represent or are trying to accomplish may be lost in a hailstorm of bullets. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's hard to have your title stand out in the crowd when it's not attempting to try anything new. Enter The Darkness, an IP that's always managed to maintain that the emo looking man on the front of the box isn't just any old drone. He's a person with wants and needs, and massive black demon tentacles shooting out of his back.

So that being said it should come as no surprise that from the moment The Darkness II starts it's all about the story. An optional preface to the last game does an absolutely stellar job at catching players up to the events which transpired leading up to the sequel and players will find that controlling Jackie, wielder of the Darkness, is a fairly engrossing experience. In fact, it's one of the best parts of the game. Now at the head of Franchetti family, Jackie's resources have naturally come quite a long way from his humble beginnings, but the death of his long time sweetheart Jenny has left his accomplishments hollow. Trudging through the world Jackie seems to go through the motions more than anything else, until an assassination attempt brings players face to face with the Darkness he tried so hard to bury away.

The remainder of the game is a fairly typical revenge romp, as Jackie goes from location to location, learning various truths about the Darkness, all the while murdering anyone who stands in his way. Combat starts off fairly straightforward, but gradually becomes more complex as the game continues on. Using a single pistol rapidly evolves into dual wielding, then interchanging weapons, using melee attacks and grabs, to finally learning how to use environmental weapons to your advantage. Given that players have access to the Darkness as a short/medium ranged alternative, Darkness II becomes a careful juggle between executing foes with short ranged strikes and taking out the more dangerous enemies from a distance.

This means that there's quite a bit to keep track of at the worst of times, an astonishing amount of options at the best. Melee attacks blend in quite well with general shooting, but are clunky and can be difficult to direct depending on what the players intended effect is as the direction of a slash is controlled by R3, the same button used to aim using the vertical axis. Outside of these issues when the controls all come together the experience can be amazingly fun. Throwing car doors to cut mobsters in half, or impaling foes with lines of rebar blends quite well with firing heavy weapons (or two sub-machine guns). The execution system provides quite a bit of flexibility for players, granting ammo, health, or armour from enemies that are killed in various brutal melee grabs.

Blend all this into a fairly unique environment and players have a formula for some pretty crazy fun. Looking for new things to toss at enemies becomes just as addicting as finding new guns, and each zone is filled to the brim with interesting things to use. Similar to the first game players will be avoiding as much light as possible, which not only strips Jackie of his Darkness powers, but will also prevent regeneration, blur the screen, and cause an amazingly annoying sound effect. Shooting out the lights to expand what areas players can aggressively enter is just as vital (if not more so) than knowing when to duck for cover and rack up a few melee executions, which adds a bit of pleasant strategy to the experience.

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