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THE DARKNESS 2
THE DARKNESS 2 REVIEW
Date Played May 2014

The Darkness and The Darkness 2 are games developed from a comic book series by the same name, which was first seen in 1996. The Darkness 2 picks up where the first game left off, so unfortunately for PC only gamers, it's sort of like reading the second half of a book. Our character has lots of back history and the story is already half over and I would guess that the main appeal of these games is the story. It makes what could have been a mediocre first-person shooter into something more unique.

Our protagonist is Jackie Estacado, a mob boss with a twist. His youth was spent committing acts of crime and violence until at the age of 21, he came into his evil heritage, an entity simply called The Darkness. Once this came to light, Jackie then became the target of an organization known as the Brotherhood of Darkness, a secret society vying for possession of this power and willing to kill to get it. This malevolent force uses Jackie as a host and is constantly angling for control. If Jackie allows it loose, it gives him certain supernatural powers. The one good influence in his life was his girlfriend Jenny, but when Jackie chose to quit the mob and turned on his adoptive father, Frankie, the don took revenge by killing the love of his life. The Darkness 2 begins several years after that story and where Jackie is now the head of the crime family. He has been able to suppress the Darkness for several years, but current events lead to its re-awakening.


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As Jackie has his human battles, another war also wages between the Darkness and the Angelus, a spirit that seeks to destroy it. Jackie's feelings of guilt over Jenny's death make him suicidal, but The Darkness uses visions of her to leverage psychological control over Jackie, insisting that if he was to die, he would lose this connection to Jenny. Keeping Jackie alive and functioning as a powerful host is imperative to the Darkness.

Overall, the graphics are good, however when the Darkness gains control, it's visually manifested as two heads floating at each edge of your screen. These tentacles, which are supposedly the appendages of the entity, feel more like something apart from it as opposed to an integral part of it. They end up being somewhat of a distraction from the main focus of attention. Combined with some dark environments, this can also make it harder to see what you're doing. Since you can also wield guns at the same time, the whole thing seems strangely disjointed. Had the developer thrown in some third person views of what Jackie looked liked when the Darkness was active, it would have visually made more sense.

As to superhuman powers, the tentacles act as additional weapons. They have two capabilities; grab/throw and slash/melee, which might not always appear to be working properly. However, this is because they must be used in a certain way. The victims need to be stunned first before you can grab them. You can then choose to either throw them or execute them. You can also utilize the arms to grab stuff from a distance or destroy obstacles. In addition, you can use guns at the same time as well as summon one darkling to assist you. Health is replenished by the Darkness eating the hearts of its victims. The weapon choices are limited, but you can dual wield some of them. The Darkness has one weakness, light. Being near it causes the Darkness to retreat and with it all of its powers and you cannot regenerate till the light source is destroyed or you get far enough away from it.

Throughout the game, you earn essence in various ways, which can be spent at talent shrines. Here, you can purchase additional powers. The amount of essence you earn can be different according to how you kill an enemy. There are also collectibles, which can be viewed when you return to the mansion. There is a room for all your relics and one of the characters, Johnny, will give you a short narrative on each one. You should listen to them as they can be quite humorous and entertaining.

Unfortunately, the main campaign is a little on the short side and very linear. Although I don't mind linear games, I was enjoying the story and could have wished for more of it. Just a heads up, there is a fair bit of crude language and content if that is something that bothers you. Jackie is an engaging character as the game explores the emotions that tear him apart, particularly as they relate to Jenny. Engaging the player effectively in this way is always a winner. It also keeps you sort of guessing by showing you a possible alternate reality and throwing into question which one is real. You will be given a choice in the end to choose your own fate. It's a big thumbs up for the storyline.

There is no main campaign co-op, but there are Vendetta missions that allow up to four players and take place in a parallel time line to the main story. You can also play these as different characters in a single-player mode called "Hit List". Although each character has a particular Darkness power, these missions felt more like straight forward shooters and I found them kinda meh.

The game is fully functional using the keyboard and mouse and the controls are easy enough. Once you finish the game, you can enter the mode New Game +, which will allow you to re-visit areas to finish collecting and upgrading or completing achievements. All in all, The Darkness 2 is a pretty good romp.

Game Issues Experienced
There is a major bug at a vent while playing the darkling. He gets caught in the environment and can't move. The way to solve this is to turn on high textures and vsync (don't know if high textures had anything to do with it, but it's the most reliable reported fix). This can cause stuttering afterwards, so turn it off again once you have progressed past that point.
Development Note
To date, at the writing of this, there are no plans to port The Darkness, and no word concerning plans for a Darkness 3, even though fans would like to see both. In an old interview with Digital Extremes, Michael Schmalz indicated that they would be interested in developing a sequel, but that ultimately it was up to the publisher 2K Games to decide. Digital Extremes, a Canadian based company, were involved with the Unreal and Bioshock franchises. Later they developed their own IP, Dark Sector, and most recently, the successful FTP game Warframe. Additionally, they have been recognized as one of Canada's top employers.
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Other games in series:  The Darkness (Not PC)
GAME INFORMATION
  • Genre: First-person Shooter
  • Developer(s): Digital Extremes
  • Publisher(s): 2K Games
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, OS X, Onlive
  • Release: Feb 2012
  • Mode(s): Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Media: Download, Blue-ray disc, DVD
  • DLC Available: No.
  • OS: WindowsXP/ Vista/ Windows 7
  • CPU: Intel Core 2.0 GHz, AMD Athlon 64x2 4200+
  • RAM: 1.5 GB
  • Hard Drive: 10 GB free space
  • Video: 256 MB Nvidia GeForce 8600, ATI Radeon HD 2600
  • Sound: DirectX compatible
  • Shader Model:
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse, Controller
  • DRM: Steam
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  • Version: Steam Download
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K; 3.40 GHz
  • Ram: 8 GB
  • Disk Drive: DVD/CD
  • Video: ATI Radeon HD 7870
  • Shader Model: 4.1
  • DirectX: 11
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
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