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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(Game Review) - The Darkness II Review

Reviewing games wasn’t something that I had planned to do when I started the blog, but I feel compelled to do so after playing this fine game. I love PC, console and mobile gaming, and have been a gamer since the days of the 2600 and Colecovision. It seems only natural to write about the games I love on this blog. I’m not trying to write a review that matches the style that most game sites use; this is just my personal take on the game.

I am a big fan of Starbreeze’s games. Enclave started my love affair with its medieval fantasy world, next came the Riddick games and lastly to The Darkness (I haven’t yet tried Syndicate, but it’s on my list). I loved The Darkness, and I would rank it as one of my favorite Xbox 360 games. The gloomy and moody open world FPS was wonderful; it sucked you into its story, and kept you enthralled till the end. The game’s collectables made replays fun, and I loved the phone numbers that you received with them. Going to the phone after each new collectable find was very enjoyable.

The Darkness 2 is the sequel to the first game, but this time it’s Digital Extremes as the developer. The writing is continued by Paul Jenkins who wrote for the comic series and the story for the first game, so the sequel is perfect in it’s continuation of the story.
The plot is based on the comic but deviates quite a bit from the original story. This was fine with me, I prefer this new story to the original, and the main character is less of an arrogant jerk and far more human in the video game version. Jackie is still missing his lost love Jenny and the story is just as romantic and touching as the first game. Both games, but especially the sequel, show a romantic side that most games cannot touch or compare to.

I admit that when I started this game, I was concerned that Digital Extremes would not provide the same type of experience that the original had. I have played some of their past games and wasn’t wowed by Pariah (I have yet to try Dark Sector). The new graphic scheme had me worried as I tend to dislike Cell shading in games, but DE did a great job here. It is very comic book like and the graphics are excellent, though I admit to missing the gloomy look of the original. The sequel is far more violent and bloody than the original, and I really enjoyed the visceral executions that you can pull off with the demons arms. The controls work very well for all that you can do in the game. It's truly fun to be shooting with dual guns in each hand, and using your demon arms to grab, throw, and eviscerate your enemies at the same time. I can't think of another game that gives quite that experience. I do wish that DE would have brought back the demon arm extension ability, where you could travel through cracks and crevices, but i didn't really miss it that much with everything else you can do.

The music and sound in the game was great, and along with the new graphics, did an admirable job of bringing you into its world. The game has a more linear campaign than the original, but allows you to walk around Jackie’s skyscraper home at your leisure. I felt more could have been done with it. Most rooms were just furnished and nothing really of note for your character to see and do. The exception to that were the collectable relics, and each time you find one in a level, they appear in the Darkness relic’s area. The creative back stories for each relic were very entertaining. There were some minor character interactions, and some shooting missions, but nothing major. I was a bit disappointed that Butcher had a very minor plot role this time around. After the events in the first game, I would have thought Butcher would have been utilized more.

The characters in the game were well voiced. Jackie had a different voice actor this time, and that saddened me initially. I am a fan of Kirk Avecedo (Band of Brothers, OZ) and wished he would have made a return. Brian Bloom did a great job however, and he still sounded like Jackie, just not as raspy. Mike Patton makes his return as the Darkness and again does a fantastic job. As a fan of Faith No More, it was great to have him in the game again.

The game has excellent replay value which is great as the campaign is pretty short, somewhere in the 10 hour range. It took me three playthroughs to get all the abilities, but I could have done it in 2 if I would have chosen a higher difficulty most likely. Besides the campaign the game has Vendettas. Vendettas are a series of missions that you play as a different character, but this goes on during the events of the campaign. It’s as fun as the campaign, and you can play it co-op online which is a great option. There are 4 characters you can play as, each having their own darkness weapon and abilities.

Overall, this game is one of the better non-realistic first person shooters games I have played on the Xbox 360. I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the Bioshock series, the Fear series, the Condemned series, and Raven’s Singularity (A very under rated game in my opinion). While not a game for the kiddies, it should appeal to anyone that loves a great story, lots of interaction, and a world filled with dark wonders.
I give this game a Highly Recommended rating.

1 comment:

  1. I was never able to get into the first game. Sounds like the changes in the sequel might be what I need. I may pick this up..