As mentioned in earlier posts I was eating out my brains when console exclusive games were all the trend. All the good games were either on Playstation 3 or the X-360. PC gamers were left with RTSes and MMOS among a handful of pitiful ports..yes, I meant Halo 2 & Gears of War. Before its release I really loved the idea of playing as Jackie Estacado but alas ‘The Darkness’ was one among the console exclusives which never even bothered to delve its wonderful claws in the PC market.
I was surprised to know about ‘The Darkness II’ coming to PC and was equally thrilled. The Darkness is one of the few ongoing comic books which had a strong storyline blended with supernatural elements. ‘The Darkness’ game introduced us to Jackie Estacado, the head of a mafia gang and how he stumbled over the Darkness letting him have uber powers. The Darkness II continues his story and I’ll leave it to you guys to taste it for yourself. I for one was pretty impressed with the storyline. Its definitely not Oscar-worthy but nonetheless is much above the excuse of a story FPS games usually have, giving you an immersive experience. You actually care for Jackie’s feelings, his pain, how much he suffers. The narration was slick and stylish the loading screens were a treat to watch with Jackie narrating memoirs from his childhood/past and was very well written by comic veteran Paul Jenkins. The story initially was slow to launch but when it did, it was a wild ride; especially the asylum sequences questioning what’s real and what’s not. The story towards the end gets thick with Jackie’s psychological elements going haywire. Loved it!
The gameplay was top notch and from what I read about the prequel..it had pertinent changes. Playing as Jackie, I was welcomed to a world of gore and stylish action. The gunplay is awesome but the real joy is to use Jackie’s two devilish claws to grab enemies and slice, cut and squeeze the living stuff outta them. Plus each kill rewards you with ‘Darkness Essence’ which you can invest in a skill tree and customize your Darkness experience. Want more gunplay invest the essence on the guns skill tree, want more protection invest em on the Health/Armor skill tree, max claws and darkness powers…invest them there. Killing enemies with your claws more gruesomely grants you more Darkness Essence than killing with guns so the choice is yours. You’ve also got a ‘Darkling’ to help you at difficult times and more than an addition it plays an integral part in the plot as well as gameplay.
The graphics is entirely different from that of its prequel. The Darkness II feels more ‘comic booky’ with pixel shaded models and all. I thought I had seen the last of celshaded graphics with the decade old titles like ‘XIII’ or ‘Killer 7’ but the revamped Evolution engine does make it look good with its totally immersive locales and set pieces. It has its cons though…its not the best engine in the market and there were framerate issues coupled with blocky textures and awkward physics at times. The celshaded models sometimes looked crude. There could have been more enemy types instead what we fight are hordes of almost the same enemy models.
The multiplayer isnt your ordinary run-of-the-mill kinda one. Its called ‘Vendetta’, It can be played either co-op or offline singleplayer and and actually is a pleasant addition to the main plot. It bridges the gap between different scenes from the main plot leaving you satisfied at the end.
Altogether ‘The Darkness II’ is well designed game to entertain us with a 6 hour singleplayer campaign plus Vendetta. Its a good package and satiated my FPS needs for now! Give it a go if you yearn for a well narrated action title. Obviously a sequel is in the making and cant wait to get my hands on it.