"A Delightful, Bloody Romp"
There's very little room in today's world for a new FPS. If a developer doesn't give us something original, deliver a good story, give us a good multiplayer, or makes us yawn even once in the first hour, it's over. That's why The Darkness II is a welcome relief in a world of generic FPS games.
The Darkness II puts us back into the role of Jackie Estacado, a man who has gained control of a power called the darkness. He has risen to Don of a particular mob family due to these powers. However, he carries the baggage of his murdered girlfriend with him. It's only a matter of time before the darkness he's spent so many years holding back unleashes itself and thus begins a story of violent revenge. While the story of The Darkness II tends to run on long in some areas (and this is a great disappointment as compared to the original The Darkness, which had a great origin story to it), the plot is not the worst thing ever written. It simply seems like some adjusting needed to be done to the story beats to make the narrative flows and pops a bit more than it does.
Even so, we are given an FPS with a very interesting element: you are essentially playing a monster. With the ability to use your hands for weaponry and the ability to use your monstrous limbs as weapons, you'll move through The Darkness II at light speed, shooting, blasting, tearing, ripping, killing, and mauling everything in your path. The Darkness II blends together a comic book mob story with the visuals of ultra-violent grindhouse movies of the 70s and violent Asian cinema. For horror fans, The Darkness II is far a better treat than we could ever imagine, and it's far superior to the horror-homage fest Shadows of the Damned.
Gameplay is well seated, with tight controls and easy-to-access attacks. There is the ability to gain experience and level up, which is not treated simply as a throw-in to give the game more content. Different attacks and kills will give you different amounts of experience, and the abilities to be gained on the skill tree are worth working for, making that kill that gives you top points. The sheer amount of ways to kill your enemies and the ability to interact with the environment to throw stuff or add to the bloody destruction makes everything so much sweeter.
There are a few more additions worth mentioning. Walking into light will take away your darkness powers, so paying attention to you environment adds to the strategy even more. There will be plenty of enemies coming at you with floodlights in an attempt to get the upper hand, and some thought will come into play when planning how to tackle these types of weapons.
The Darkness II overall experience is fairly intense and over-the-top, but in the fashion of Saints Row 3, it somehow works. The cel-shaded execution of the graphics are simply stunning, and while some slowdowns, glitches, and the typical case of cloned enemy models get weary, the comic booked styled graphics help bring The Darkness II into its own. Tearing a baddie in half with your mutant tentacles is pretty brutal, but never will you feel like the violence doesn't belong here.
The absolute best element of The Darkness II is that the multiplayer isn't a tacked-on addition. Levels here are designed to work with a team in mind, and are fine-tuned for the co-op experience. Even better, the storyline executed in this co-op mode is a sub-story to the main game's plot, making playing multiplayer worth it even for those who typically avoid it. The only flaw in the multiplayer arena is a few major slowdowns that tend to happen and will hopefully be fixed via patches soon.
The Darkness II is fun, fast, and despite a few rough-around-the-edges moments with graphics and story, it's a fun ride. However that ride is quite short, with the main game coming in at around 5-6 hours. It may be short, but for those seeking a fresh new FPS, or those who love violent horror films or comics books, The Darkness II is the perfect choice.
GameDynamo's Score for The Darkness II (PS3)
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