The Darkness 2 Review: The Darkness II mixes superpowers with gunplay in a gore-soaked splatterfest underpinned by a rather good story. Not your average shooter
The Darkness 2 is a pulp noir story wrapped up in the trappings of a shooter that mixes superpowers with gunfighting. In the current sea of increasingly similar military-themed FPS games, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, this is a game that easily stands out from the crowd.
The Darkness 2: Plot
The Darkness 2 reintroduces players to long-haired mobster, Jackie Estecado, a mobster who was infested by a demon on his 21st birthday. The Darkness, as the demon calls itself, gives Jackie incredible and brutal abilities, but at a cost; the more Jackie uses The Darkness, the more of his soul the demon will posses.
As the game begins, the player learns Jackie has managed to keep his diabolical parasite bottled up for the last two years. This period of abstinence ends abruptly when Jackie is the victim of a firebombing, and is forced to unleash the demon within in order to survive.
The story is one of the best aspects of Digital Extreme’s new shooter. As Jackie prowls the streets of New York in search of answers about who ordered him dead, he encounters a shadowy group called The Brotherhood, who aren’t after him so much as the devil inside him.
It turns out The Brotherhood know an awful lot about the Darkness – including the fact exposure to bright light weakens it – and they’re hell-bent on taking Jackie’s power from him.
The Darkness 2: Gameplay
Of course, Jackie’s not going to give in without a fight, and with that in mind, the developers have built an impressive control system that allows players to juggle guns and powers quite intuitively. Jackie can manifest two tendrils that snake out of his back, which he can use as an extra pair of hands.
Both are mapped to the bumpers; the right bumper is a melee weapon and the left is a grabbing hand that players can use to pick up and hurl objects and rip open doors and barriers. The tendrils are also used to activate a series of brutal execution moves, in which enemies are torn in half, decapitated and utterly dismembered.
Players earn experience points (XP) for each kill and headshot they score, each light they knock out and every human heart they consume.
They can then use this XP to buy new abilities for Jackie at Darkness portals they’ll find dotted throughout the game. These include extended ammo clips, the ability to shoot through walls and the power to unleash a swarm of flies that blind opponents for brief periods.
The Darkness 2: Multiplayer
Alongside the campaign, The Darkness II boasts a rather decent co-op multiplayer, whose plot runs parallel to the main story. Players take on the role of one of four mercenaries that Jackie dispatches to hunt down a series of powerful artefacts, before The Brotherhood gets hold of them.
The Darkness 2: Verdict
The co-op and the campaign are a little on the short side (both can be clocked in around six hours), and the overall difficulty isn’t too taxing. Even on the hardest setting it’s hard to shake the sense that you’re basically controlling a walking slaughterhouse who just becomes more and more ridiculously overpowered as time goes on.
That having been said, isn’t enjoying a powertrip the whole point of a superhero video game? The Darkness II’s slick control system ensures players never tire of unleashing Jackie’s demonic powers on any and all comers, and its story is enthralling – right up to its knife-twist of an ending.
The Darkness 2 availability: Out now
The Darkness 2 price: 39.99