If you like over the top violence, then you should be familiar with The Darkness. The Darkness 2 is the sequel to the 2007 sleeper hit The Darkness (shocking, I know), both of which are based on a comic series by the same name. You play as Jackie Estacado, a mafia Don who has harnessed the power of The Darkness, an ancient and evil power, to get revenge on those who have wronged him.
For the first time in quite a while I actually wanted to see the story in an FPS through to its conclusion. The story begins simple enough as tale of revenge, but the elements introduced as the story unfolds give the game a unique and compelling story that leaves the player asking questions until the final curtain drops. The Darkness 2 picks up two years after the events of the first game, with Jackie still grieving his girlfriends murder. He has, at the onset, learned to suppress The Darkness, and has become the head of a mafia family. But things arenít so pleasant for long, and the game starts out with a bang when youíre attacked during a pleasant night out by an unknown assailant. While the vengeance story is all well and good, the truly interesting aspects of the story come into play shortly after. Without spoiling too much Iíll just say that the game does a fantastic job at brandishing the instability of Jackieís mind since his girlfriendís death and the introduction of The Darkness.
The Darkness 2 is brimming with style. The presentation in this game is fantastic. The comicbookesque visual style, which is reminiscent of Borderlands, really does a great job of painting the gritty grimy world with life. Not to mention making the brutality the game hurls at the player not only stomachable, but nothing short of beautiful. The look of terror and helplessness on a henchmenís face coupled with his screams as you quite literally tear him apart are equal parts disgusting and delightful. The dreary set pieces are lit up not with light, but with crimson splashes of blood and burning embers as Jackie tears through the world. Interactive objects within the world are surrounded by an amethyst glow, signalling the player that theyíre either needed to progress or available to massacre. Seeing the game in motion, with all parts working together, is really a sight to behold.
The Darkness 2 is all about the carnage. Although this is an FPS, the generic weapons take a back seat to your darkness powers, really only serving as a means to close the gap between yourself and enemies enough to unleash your fury on them. And the controls are marvelously crafted around the idea of never limiting your destructive capabilities. Your Darkness powers are upgraded with points earned through the carnage that you cause, the more brutal your means of slaying a foe, the more points you can acquire. Scattered throughout the levels are upgrade stations that allow you to spend these points on things like better weapon usage, swarms of insects, and better executions. Although there is a fairly diverse selection of abilities, I rarely found myself needing much more than the most basic abilities, with the main exception being the Darkness Armor that makes you a force to be reckoned with in the shadows. Never the less, the abilities are all fun to use, and should make repeated playthroughs fairly interesting.
All in all, The Darkness 2 is a very good game thatís just a little too lean to be great. The campaign is average length for an FPS, about 5-8 hours, with a new game + feature thrown in for those who want to fully upgrade and truly cause havoc. A co-op multiplayer mode called Vendetta is present, featuring four unique characters in short but fun missions. While these are a fun alternative to the main game, I canít really see myself coming back to play them down the road. The Darkness 2 is a lot of fun, and is definitly worth experiencing for anyone whoís a fan of the material, FPSís, or just brutal video games in general. But the total package is just a little lacking for a $60 game when thereís so many other games coming to market that promise to have more value. You get a lot of bang for your buck here, but not much else.