Review: The Darkness II
An engrossing narrative, but marred by a lack of innovation.
Engrossing narrative; Impressive soundtrack; Great voice acting; Skill tree adds depth; Vendetta multiplayer mode is fun; Gory combat.
Short campaign; Lacks innovation; Poor AI; Long load times; Sub-par animation.
The Darkness II
Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: Action \ First-Person Shooter
Platforms: PC, PS3, X360
Street Price (As On 5-Apr-2012): Rs 1000 (Game4u.com); Rs 900 (Flipkart.com)
Following a violently satisfying experience in the first iteration, The Darkness is back to devour your soul. Jackie Estacado reprises his role and faces off for a second time against the diabolical force trapped within him. The Darkness II continues the same brand of mayhem you've come to love, while weaving a complicated narrative this time around. Does the second instalment from 2K Games really live up to its predecessor, or is this Duke Nukem Forever all over again?
Spilling blood by the gallons.
The Darkness Returns
Still sulking over the death of his girlfriend Jenny Romano, Jackie Estacado now heads the Franchetti crime family. The story spins an Inception-esque psychological web that blurs the boundaries between the real and imaginary. Although you are aware of Jenny's death, her appearances down the alley, at the restaurant, and several other locations whip up a storm of confusion. I won't ruin the surprise for you with details, but this brand of confusion in the plot really keeps you on the edge till the conclusion.
After an attack unleashed by unknown enemies, the Darkness comes out of burial and tries to reclaim Jackie. That's bad news for our protagonist, but great news for you, because this darkness business provides an additional pair of hands. An extra pair is always a good idea when rending enemies to shreds.
The fight between Jackie and the Darkness to wrest control of his mortal form is interesting; especially when the latter preys on vital characters in the story. There are numerous twists and turns in the narrative that will keep you hooked till the end. Nonetheless, you'll be surprised how quickly this game wraps up. The campaign lasts a little over six hours even at the highest difficulty mode.
Murder Served In Many Flavours
Gunplay works fine, but the real draw is the inclusion of additional demon limbs into the action. RPG elements include a skill tree that's been tied into character progression, which gradually lets you upgrade your skills and acquire new moves. The point system is tied in closely with the fighting mechanism that grants you XP (eXperience Points) for every kill. The game encourages flamboyant moves by awarding you more points for over-the-top action. If you are a point whore, this game will ensure that you are at your creative best to achieve a maximum score.
Unlike the previous instalment, which preferred adventure elements over all-out action, the sequel lets you dial the carnage all the way to eleven. With the kind of power wielded by Jackie, it's fun to experiment with different ways to tear apart rivals and \ or shoot them. Now that Jackie is equipped with four hands, you can dabble between options to shoot, toss your opponents, or just rip their bodies into pieces like your average deranged killer would.
Gunplay is much like what you've done in any other FPS, so you won't see anything new apart from the standard shooter action. This been-there-done-that feeling worsens when you encounter the lacklustre AI. There are hardly any boss fights in the game that will make you rethink your strategy or play style.
Great Multiplayer, Poor Animation
The Vendetta multiplayer mode is recommended to those who prefer pure shooting over the plot-driven single player campaign. It breathes a bit more life into the super-short game with its online as well as local four-player co-op modes. You can play an assassin who has mastered the Darkness' power. Some of the missions in this mode have been linked to the single-player campaign, whereas the others have been thrown in just for fun.
Given the plot and its darker shades, audio plays a big role in setting the mood. Voice-acting and the background score are equally impressive. Disappointingly, the animation barely manages to keep the fluidity intact. A bit more polish in this department would have enhanced the entire experience. Jerky movements and choppy animation just kill the immersion for me. The inordinately long loading screens make matters even worse.
Needs More Innovation
The Darkness II faces an uphill task of surpassing or even matching the high standards set by the original game. The sequel's intricate storyline however, delivers with its psychological thriller elements. This game easily exceeds my expectations in that department.
Let's not forget that this isn't a movie but a game, and therefore gameplay is equally important. In that respect, this is a well-made title that's marred by a few gameplay flaws. It's not just the technical glitches with choppy animation and long load screens, but it is the overall lack of creativity and innovation in the basic combat elements that keep it from achieving its full potential.
Overall Rating: 3.5