Review: The Darkness 2 (PS3)


Well, I finally got around to finishing up the platinum trophy for The Darkness 2, and now it’s time for a review. The main story was played through on “Don” difficulty first time through, and it took around 6 hours to finish. The Vendettas campaign was played through with my friend Sean, and we finished that in one sitting (2.5-3 hours).

What did I like? What really stood out? aesthetics, story, voice acting/dialogues, being a walking death machine, skill trees, the darkling

The hand-drawn environments and characters in this game are excellent. The colours are well defined and vibrant, and it has the comic book feel. The graphics are fairly standard, but the game is still nice to look at. If you like comics, than you’ll enjoy what you see.

Story-wise, the game is alright. You are Jackie Estacado, and you are head of the mafia. You have suppressed the darkness and have kept it under wraps for around 3 years. Someone tries to kill you at a restaurant and you have no choice but to let it out. You run around, tracking down who did this and why, killing anyone in the way. Someone wants your powers, and the darkness does not want to leave it’s host. There are quite a few characters in the game, and though the story is straight forward, the actual ending threw me for a loop.

The voice acting in this game is actually very good. It’s on the same level as games like Rage, where you actually go around and talk to everyone, just to hear all that they have to say to you. I spent a long time in the asylum parts of the game, just talking to the crazy versions of everyone. And the dialogue between Frank and Eddie was excellent, especially if you come back and talk to Frank later, when told to do so. There’s some great little tales that they tell.

Being Jackie, the host of the darkness, can be stressful, but ultimately you’re just a walking death machine. Rending people limb from limb, and spearing them with poles, or eating their hearts. All this is happening while you’re shooting with your own hands. It’s fantastic and you feel extremely powerful for the most part. The story is fairly straight forward and easy to follow, so most of the focus is just on the killing. I;m not saying that the story is bad, but it’s just semi-predictable.

With all that killing, you get dark essence points, and you can invest these points in different skill sets. There are different execution moves to unlock. One gives you health, another gives ammo, another armour, and yet another gives you faster power regeneration. Then there are swarms of carnivorous flies, and then gun channeling that allows you to shoot bolts of dark energy. One for quicker reloads, extra ammo in the dark, and all sorts of stuff. Once you get them all, you’re pretty much unstoppable. It’s a nice variety, and it adds that small leveling element that I like. It compels me to play more, since I want to see what gruesome things I can do next.

Throughout the story, you have a little sidekick called a “darkling”. This little fella is awesome and can be kind of funny sometimes. You can even pick him up and throw him at enemies. There are two instances when you get to play as him. It was fun the first time, but he doesn’t have much variety in attacks, so the second longer instance is a little boring. I found myself pretty attached to the little guy by the end.

What did I dislike? What was a let down? Vendettas, difficulty spikes, occasional glitches/bugs, end battle was too easy

The multi-player “Vendettas” mode is not exactly what I would call good. Mediocre at best. It has a very “thrown on for the sake of having multi-player” feel to it. The enemy AI is horrible, and the missions are not really all that special. The difficulty can ramp up at random, and then when you die and load a checkpoint, the game is way easier. The characters are not overly interesting, except the Scottish guy is kind of funny. Each character gets a piece of the darkness’s power, and have a weapon that is infused with darkness. It only took around 2-3 hours to complete the campaign, and another hour to finish the hit list. The final boss in the campaign was annoying and took forever to kill. The final boss looked cool, but it was overall an bland, boring and long battle.

The difficulty spikes are not as bad as Uncharted‘s, but there were two or three of instances in the game where I died around a dozen or more times and wanted to destroy my controller. This shouldn’t happen, and I don’t understand how developers can miss this stuff. At one point the game auto-saved and I was standing in light. Light in the game blinds you and makes the darkness powers go away. You don’t regenerate, or have any powers at your disposal. At the point it saved, there were two guys in armour jumping down to kill me. I died over a dozen times at this point trying to get myself out of that situation. Those two guys are followed soon after by more enemies, so it’s a serious pain in the ass to start a battle off so vulnerable.

With difficulty in mind, the end of the game wasn’t difficult at all. The last big battle was actually almost a joke, as I only died once when playing on the hardest difficulty. It wasn’t overly challenging, and it was underwhelming. At least the story has an interesting ending though.

Overall

The Darkness 2
was a fun single-player experience that had blood and gore flying everywhere, with a multi-player mode you can skip. It’s a short game, and you can get 100% achievements/trophies in it very quickly. My recommendation is that you get it if you really love the first game and are a fan of the comics. Otherwise, it’s either a weekend rental, or wait for the price drops.

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