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The Darkness II Review

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Developer: Digital Extremes Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: February 7th, 2012 Available On: PS3 and Xbox 360

When The Darkness first launched in 2007,

gamers found themselves stepping into the shoes

of Jackie Estacado. Five years have passed, and

the series has been handed off to developer

Digital Extremes for an overhaul. The original

game received favorable reviews, and this site

even awarded the game an 8.2 out of 10

. With The Darkness

II, have the new developers managed to keep the

feel of the original, innovating the original

formula? Well, yes, but there is more to it than


Darkness 2 - banner

For those who did not play the first game,

here is a quick recap; On the evening of his

21st birthday, Jackie becomes the target of an

assassination by the don of the New York mafia.

While under attack, an evil awakens within

Jackie called The Darkness – basically a bunch

of evil tentacles that want to bring pain and

suffering to everyone around them. During the

events of the game, the mob boss kills Jackie’s

girlfriend Jenny in front of his eyes – a very

powerful scene indeed. Jackie, trying his

hardest to intervene, is prevented from helping

by The Darkness. The rest of the game revolves

around Jackie’s search for vengeance against the

crime family that wronged him.

Fast forward two years, and Jackie is now the

head of the Franchetti family. Thankfully Jackie

has subdued The Darkness, and learned to keep it

buried within himself. While at a restaurant

Jackie and his group are attacked by another

crime family. Crawling from the wreckage of the

restaurant, Jackie is urged to “embrace the

darkness.” Giving in to The Darkness, Jackie

begins his journey of revenge, bloodshed, and

insanity. Early on in the game a man named

Johnny Powell – the same man who taught Jackie

to temper The Darkness – informs him that the

person who was behind the attack at the

restaurant is the leader of a group known as The

Brotherhood. Estacado soon learns that The

Brotherhood wishes to find Jackie and take The

Darkness for themselves.

The Darkness 2 is as much of a psychological

thriller as it is a first-person shooter.

Throughout the game Jackie is put through

several near death experiences, but The Darkness

refuses to let him die. Whenever one of these

events occurs, Jackie wakes up in a psychiatric

ward, where all of the patients, doctors, and

nurses appear as people he knows, including his

late girlfriend Jenny. There are also several

sections where Jackie walks into the diner where

Jenny used to work, having intimite moments with

someone who no longer exists anywhere but within

Jackie’s mind. Jackie must not only battle

enemies in the rival mob, but also toe the fine

line between reality and insanity.

Darkness 2 - 1

The biggest immediate difference I noticed

between this game and the original are the

graphics. I personally think that the sequel

runs circles around its predecessor in terms of

presentation; the original had more of a gritty,

realistic feel to it, while the sequel does away

with all the seriousness, introducing a comic

book-style cel-shaded look, and making it more

relatable to the source material. Overall, the

game could have used a little more polish –

there are textures that pop in and out

occasionally, and the character models could

have used some work – but I was ultimately

pleased with how the game looked.

Changes to the combat have also been made in

The Darkness II. This sequel employs something

the team at Digital Extremes coined “quad-

wielding.” This basically allows you to use both

of the demon arms at the same time as firing

your basic weapons, which is great fun, allowing

you to pick up enemies and toss them around

while killing more simultaneously. Jackie can

use The Darkness to rip car doors off their

respective vehicles, using them as shields. You

can also pick up various objects scattered

throughout the levels and hurl them to impale

bodies or sever limbs. Furthermore, Jackie can

perform executions on his foes when The Darkness

has a grip on them. There are some small rewards

for these executions (health or ammo), on top of

being very satisfying to see. The Darkness

provides Jackie with one ability called “Swarm”,

which lets you swarm enemies with flies,

stunning them. Gun channeling is the other major

ability in Jackie’s arsenal – this allows him to

see his foes through walls, and provides

unlimited and stronger ammo for a short period

of time.

There are upgrade stations scattered through

each level that allow Jackie to enhance four

“talent trees”. Each talent tree offers

different bonuses and general abilities, from

health to executions. Every time a player kills

an enemy, dark essence is earned. Along with

using abilities to earn extra points, eating a

downed enemy’s heart, using executions, and

environment kills also earn a few extra points

for use when upgrading Jackie’s abilities.

Players can also find 29 different collectibles

scattered around in each level, which add bonus

dark essence points.

Darkness 2 - 2

Enemy variety has improved as well, although

most of the character models for opponents were

carbon copies of each other. There are several

types of heavy enemies throughout the game, some

weild giant axes and can teleport across short

distances, making them difficult to shoot. Other

types include enemies with Darkness-infused

shields, and whip-toting enemies that can disarm

Jackie if players don’t take advantage of cover.

Once the campaign has been completed (this

takes 4-7 hours, depending on your playing

style), players can engage in the multiplayer

component. Unlike the first game, The Darkness

II boasts a completely separate campaign that

can be completed alone or cooperatively with

another person on Xbox Live or PlayStation

Network. This “Vendetta” campaign offers players

four characters, each with their own unique

Darkness abilities and weapon bonuses. Many of

the events of this campaign take place within

the timeline of the single-player storyline,

focusing on taking the Darkness relics within

the Brotherhood strongholds.

You would think that a cooperative mode with

Darkness powers would seem like fun, right?

Well, wrong: the level variety in Vendetta mode

is lacking, and they all play basically the

same, following a strict pattern of clearing

enemies from room to room until it’s all said

and done. Every part of it is pretty repetitive;

the first level was fun, but when the next one

did little to add any variety, and then the

next, I lost hope. I feel like Digital Extremes

took the easy way out, slacking with the

multiplayer rather than making the extra effort

to put more value into that $60 price tag. After

all, I put about ten hours into the game, with

my playthrough on the very hardest setting

lasting just over three and a half hours.

The Darkness 2 will probably not win any

awards this year, but it was the first solid

shooter of the 2012, and that is saying

something. Playing as Jackie Estacado and

embracing The Darkness is extremely empowering,

and watching his story continue through this

entry was a fun way to begin the year.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 7.5 out of 10
Written by Drew Meadows W

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