The Darkness 2 is a supernatural first person shooter following one newly appointed mafia don, Jackie Estacado, as he deals with the powers of the Darkness as well as his own personal problems. The game picks up a couple years after the events of the original game. The first game has quickly become sort of a cult classic for it’s amazing story, atmosphere, and characters, while average and repetitive gameplay hold it back from greatness. With a new studio behind the reigns (Digital Extremes), Darkness 2 definitely has beefed up the gameplay, created an awesome graphics engine, but misses some marks this time around in both atmosphere and story.
Where the original Darkness failed to impress in the shooting gameplay, Darkness 2 amps up the excitement and control to a completely new level. You literally are in control of 4 arms throughout the entire game, 2 demon, 2 human, and the control you have over them is perfect to keep things fresh and fun. While your hands are busy with a variety of guns, the demonic arms are used to grab, throw, slice, and eat the hearts of your enemies. You even can rip away objects in the field and use them as a shield. I was weary of this feature dubbed “quad-wielding” at first, thinking the controls would be confusing and unwanted, but it seriously makes the game, and is one of the reasons Darkness 2 stands out in a sea of shooters.
So much killing can tend to get a bit tiring and repetitive, which is why I’ve become a bit tired of the FPS genre, but Darkness 2 actually adds a bit of an RPG element to the mix which not only gives you rewards for killing, but you are rewarded even more by being creative in your destruction. Every kill gives you experience, and you gain more XP by switching up your fight. All the experience you get goes towards plenty of upgrades from new Darkness powers, to gun mods, to status boosts. From beginning to end, you’ll be building your character up and becoming that much more of a badass.
The story of Darkness 2 will be good for some, and annoying to others so it’s hard to really say if it’s great, or crap. I liked it, but parts left me wanting. Certain areas, like with the Brotherhood (your main opposition) seem more thrown into the game to create people to mutilate, than to really push along the story. Even the corruption of the Darkness on Jackie seems to take a backseat more than the first game did and this upset me because Mike Patton’s voice is amazing. The real interesting part here is the main character Jackie, and how he is coping with the lost of his love, and how the Darkness feels about that. There are twists in the game that had me frustrated, but ultimately left me happy because I couldn’t predict how everything was going to play out.
Even after the single player campaign, a decent sized alternate co-op campaign can be played online with up to 4 players. Don’t have friends? You can even play it by itself. The campaign follows alongside the main one and fills you in on some holes in the story. The 4 characters to choose from each have their own abilities to use and unlock. And after that there’s a Hit List mode which basically has you going through levels in search of one enemy. Nothing really special about hitlist, but it adds some extra gameplay if you want.
In the end, I loved the game almost as much as I love the original. The main campaign is relatively short (maybe 7 hours on average) but it felt like a full experience and I wasn’t disappointed with the length. A game is a game and really, it’s better than the first in many ways. While the story lacks in some areas, the writing really shines, as it did in the first. Take that, and combine it with a fresh engaging combat system and you get a solid shooter worthy of your time.