by Justin Snyder
previewed on X360
Going up in the world
Jackie Estacado has grown up in the two years since The Darkness ended. He has used his abilities to become the Don of the Franchetti family and is now one of the most powerful men in New York. Of course, that kind of rise does not come without envy from other parties. There are those in the city who want to take Jackie’s power for themselves. A group known as The Brotherhood, that was originally formed in order to protect the world from The Darkness, is now led by a man who wants to take the power of The Darkness for himself.
The first entry in the series, released in 2007, offered a nice supernatural twist on the typical first-person shooter, with the addition of wielding The Darkness and learning special abilities like generating black holes that will suck in your enemies and using the “creeping dark” as mentioned above. Top Cow has tried to build upon what Starbreeze did well with the first title without changing it too much.
The recently-released demo for the The Darkness II allows players to try out the tutorial and introduction of the upcoming game. The demo starts with Jackie basically being crucified by some guy (possibly the leader of The Brotherhood), and his thug while some artefact is draining The Darkness out of Jackie. Pretty much all of the demo’s gameplay is comprised of flashbacks, with jumps back to the present to relate more of the story. The flashbacks will allow you to take Jackie through a shoot-out in a restaurant, battle through the streets of New York and then down through a subway station.
Artistic, if not that impressive, style
Visually, the game will not blow you away, but the use of cel-shaded graphics allows for the game to feel aesthetically similar to the comics it is based on, which is a great way to build a game that is pretty without trying to break graphical boundaries. All of the game’s assets were hand-drawn by the artists before being digitized and added in, making the design similar to the way many comics are still done today. This method gives the game a look that is stylized in just the right way.
The developer has called upon the original voice actor for The Darkness, Mike Patton, to reprise his role. Unfortunately, the original voice of Jackie, Kirk Acevedo, has not returned. In his stead is Brian Bloom, who has worked most recently on the Kane and Lynch series as Kane, and voiced Yuri in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. However, there has been enough time between the two games that, if there are any big differences between these two voices for the character, they will probably go largely unnoticed. I certainly didn’t notice anything that seemed terribly off based on my memories of the first game.
The game takes after most of the first-person games of recent memory, with all of the storytelling happening in the first person. In at least one instance, this makes for a great moment: When the game brings Jackie back to the present and the thug assistant starts to beat him. The Darkness implores him to free himself and there’s a short QTE to pull his left hand off the spike before he pulls the other spike out, stabs his assailant with it, grabs his gun, and nails his head.