Preview

The Darkness II Preview (PC)

We all have a little darkness inside of us. For some, this can manifest into mean jokes about people or by stealing their stuff. For others, the darkness consumes them and drives them to commit the most heinous of crimes. For Jackie Estacado, it means he has two tentacle-like things sticking out of him that are partial towards eating people’s hearts and other such mischief. Five years later, 2K is finally bringing back the conflicted hero in The Darkness II, with Homefront & Bioshock contributors Digital Extremes taking over the reins.
 

Hmm... what to do with him now...
The Darkness II is set two years after the events of the first game, with Jackie now a mob boss and being haunted by his dead girlfriend. Whilst he managed to suppress The Darkness for a time, an incident forces him to once again rely on the unholy supernatural power once more. Jackie’s search for the truth, as well as his struggle against a new enemy called The Brotherhood is told in a more comic-book style manner, with the visuals given the Cel-shaded treatment.

The main ‘hook’ this time around is the ability for players to ‘Quad Wield’, so they can use Jackie’s Darkness arms as well as firearms at the same time. The arms allow for a lot of interesting gameplay choices, such as grabbing items for cover, Tarzan-ing across gaps, as well as eating people’s hearts out and finishing moves. It’s all very morbid, but also very fun as well playing around with what Jackie can do. There have also been other changes and improvements over the original, such as an enhanced focus on light vs. dark, more powers and talents, and a few other bits and bobs.
 
Every character has passive buffs that can also help team mates
You’ll also be pleased to know that there is multiplayer in this game – something that hasn’t really been talked about so far. It’s a four-player cooperative mode called ‘Vendettas’ that comprises of a self-contained (but related) story campaign, and the ‘Hit list’ mode which involves individual missions. Some of these will be missions that you do in the campaign, but they’ll also be other Hit List-only missions, and ones that can only be done with more than two (or more) people. The parallel story follows the exploits of a group of four elite assassins that Jackie has enlisted to help in his fight again the Brotherhood: Jimmy Wilson, a rather large and flamboyant axe wielding Scot, Dr. JP Dumond, a mysterious voodoo master, Inugami, who wields a katana and enjoys one-liners, and Shoshanna, an ex-Mossad Special Forces agent.

Each of the four characters have their own personality, story, abilities and Darkness fused weapons. Big Jim, for example, wields a special axe that you throw and summon back to you. Dumond’s Voodoo stick allows you to throw people in the air, and Shoshanna’s special pistol never runs out of ammo. Each character also has an innate talent, as well as a power that can be activated (no limit, but there is a cooldown) which are generally based off powers that Jackie himself can get in the main game. Each has very different play styles as well, and they can be very challenging at first as you try to adjust to each.

It’s an interesting mode, to be sure, but definitely one built for co-op. The mode is playable offline by yourself, but it’s an odd inclusion as we don’t see why anyone would want to. Some of the challenges you face be very challenging by yourself, and in the general the Vendetta missions are but a mere shadow of Jackie’s main outing. There’s a lot of running and gunning with little variety at times, but from what we’ve seen so far there are some good moments as well. In terms of handling, some of the characters feel a bit awkward, especially Shoshanna as she has no melee weapons. She only has ranged gun and considering this isn’t an FPS, for her at least things are a little stiff.
 
He may look a tad Irish, but he sounds very, very Scottish...

We imagine fans have been waiting a fair while for this game, considering the original was out in 2007. Digital Extremes have definitely put their own mark on the franchise, but that’s mainly in terms of the visual style – the gameplay and the feel of the game still remains more-or-less true to Starbreeze’s original tale. The quad-wielding feature will certainly spice things up, as will the new Vendettas multiplayer, but everything still needs a bit more work and polish, so we shall see. The Darkness II is coming to PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 350 on February 7th in North America, and February 10th in Europe.

Most Anticipated Feature: Quad-wielding, definitely.

(This preview is based on hands-on time with an early Xbox 360 build)

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