THE DARKNESS II
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 24, 2020
Hello dear readers, and welcome to another episode of the Big Red Timemachine... a very dark episode, I might add, because the lights are still out at our Big Red HQ. Well, I say "our" Big Red HQ, but I am currently all by my lonesome. You may remember me getting my shotgun in order to shoot some sense in to my wayward colleague, Dennis. But wouldn't you just know it; the guy was gone by the time I got back to the lobby where I had left him. He also took the Tiny Red Timepod with him, leaving me with no clue whatsoever as to where he fled to.
Then suddenly, the day before last, I received an invitation to his wedding. I didn't even know the guy had a girlfriend, let alone a betrothed... I suspect it has something to do with him taking the Timepod and his incessant yammering about getting his life back on track. I mean, come on, life was already on track. Okay, it might have been a fast track to nowhere, but a track nonetheless. We were two wild-eyed rebels heading for oblivion and beyond before what I can only think of as Dennis' mental breakdown, but it seems that there's only one rebel left at this time. Although I will never admit it to him, I do kind of miss the bastard and a darkness grows inside me; one that rivals the blackout darkness at our HQ. Hmmm... that gives me an idea!
Please fasten your seatbelts and keep your arms and legs inside of the vehicle at all times, ladies and gentlemen, because we're taking a trip back to 2012. No, not to witness a predicted global catastrophe that never came, but to become one with the Darkness. We shall do so by stepping into the Italian-made shoes of mob boss Jackie Estacado. You see, Jackie, like yours truly, also has a Darkness growing inside of him and has done very well to keep it neatly tucked away. But now, things are about to take a turn for the worse and the Darkness returns in all its creepy glory...
We are talking, of course, about the game called The Darkness II, which was developed by Digital Extremes and published by 2K Games. The game was released in early 2012 for PS3, Xbox One and PC and followed the exploits of Jackie Estacado, a few years after the events of the first game in the series. He has successfully repressed the Darkness that has embedded itself in his body and is trying to lead his life as best he can. A hit by a rivalling gang changes all that and Jackie will have to employ the powers of the Darkness once again.
At its core, The Darkness II is a first person shooter, but also contains elements of a very different genre; the RPG genre. By collecting essence from fallen enemies, Jackie can upgrade his powers step by step. These powers come in four main categories: Hitman, execution, Darkness Powers and Demon Arm. Each of these categories influence another aspect of the deadly package of powers Jackie has at his disposal. Hitman upgrades influence Jackie's handling of weapons, while Execution gives him greater benefits from performing executions. The Darkness Powers and the Demon Arm categories have everything to do with upgrading the Darkness that infests Jackie's body and mind, making it more powerful as you progress through the game.
Visually, this game was a real treat! The environments looked really beautiful and the characters you'd come across would be nicely detailed and expertly crafted. Your Demon Arms looked as menacing as they sounded and the weapons you used during the game looked really cool. The developers chose to tweak the textures of everything to make them resemble the art of the comic books that the game is based on, tying everything together beautifully! What we were left with was a brilliantly looking game with beautiful art that fitted the game's premise perfectly.
Gameplay-wise, The Darkness II I surprisingly diverse. The addition of the Darkness itself to the normal FPS gameplay makes for a much more varied experience and truly challenges the player to make good use of the powers at their disposal. The story is a really good one, as is the general voice acting. Especially the Darkness itself, voices in all its creepy splendor by Mike Patton, gives the entire game an additional level of weirdness. The gunplay is solid and the addition of the double wield ability gives you the chance to tailor your use of firearms to almost every situation conceivable. Making good use of your Darkness Powers, as well as the two demon arms that can be summoned at your every whim, gave the game its additional layer of gameplay and helped set it apart from its contemporary, more run-of-the-mill counterparts..
Now, because the evil entity in the game is called The Darkness, you can expect it to have one very obvious weakness, and that is light. Whenever Jackie is brightly lit areas, his restorative powers and his demon arm abilities switched off. By destroying the light sources that illuminate him, Jackie can restore said powers and be his grim but awesome self once again. I must admit that I always tried to make as much use of my Darkness Powers as often as I possibly could. It's not that shooting bad guys isn't fun; it's just that ripping them apart or hurling them through the environment by making use of your Demon Arms is much, much more fun. Why just shoot a character when you can just as easily all but completely obliterate them, right?
I've played this game ever since it was released and have played through it numerous times. It's just one of those games that you pick up every now and again, just to be evil for a while and, most importantly, to just have fun! Overall, The Darkness II delivers on all fronts and does this with every ounce of grace and creepiness you might expect from a game with this premise. So, if you are a fan of FPS games with a good story, additional awesome powers and a creepy story, you should really do yourself a solid and give this game a whirl. Yes, it is already eight years old, so the action may not be as fluid as we have gotten used to with modern games, but it still works like a charm and playing the Darkness II is simply really, really fun!
And with that, dear passengers of the Big Red Timemachine, I bid you adieu. It is time for me to continue my search for my long lost colleague. Now, I know that two weeks might not seem like a lot, but it feels like it's been years since I last saw him. Hmmm, maybe the invitation to his so-called wedding will hold a clue as to his whereabouts? I'll just run it through our inverted-polysurround-extrapolator and see what we come up with. So for now, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you well and hope to see you, once again, in two weeks' time. Maybe Dennis will have come to his senses about this whole silly "getting his life on track" business and we can finally get on with doing what we do best; having a go at each other, being awesome and drinking lots and lots of alcoholic beverages (not necessarily in that order).
Hey! Wait... what? Why is our state-of-the-art proximity alarm blaring like a high school girl that just saw a spider? I swear, if it's another door-to-door salesman, I'll introduce him to old Bessy! Who is old Bessy, I hear you ask? Well, my shotgun of course. Come on Bessy, let's go see what that blaring is all about!
** Walks away in the darkness, using his supreme sense of direction to find his way ***
OUCH! Goddamned, who put that wall here?!
THE DARKNESS II
Digital Extremes & 2K Games