The Darkness 2 Hands-On Preview [E3 2011]
During our visit to 2K’s booth during E3 last week, we had the chance to check out the next game in their mafia-battling, magical-power-wielding shooter series, The Darkness 2.
The Darkness was a game that earned a bit of a following from gamers and those familiar with the comic book but still seemed to go unnoticed by the larger audience. In the first game, the hero Jackie Estacado had just turned 21 and became the wielder of the “Darkness”, a power that allowed him to wield demon arms that not only make sarcastic remarks, but also helped deal out damage to his enemies.
At the same time as his awakening he was also feuding with his uncle, Paulie, the Don of the Franchetti crime family who makes the mistake of killing Jackie’s girlfriend, Jenny.
Set two years after the first game, The Darkness 2 sees Jackie inheriting the title of Don of the Franchetti family after the death of his uncle. And while he is still haunted by the memories of his lost love, he has been able to keep the darkness under control. He loses his grip on the power though when a mysterious group attempts to kill him, sending him once again on a bloody quest, this time to uncover the identity of the group trying to kill him while he also has to battle his own powers, as the darkness now wants out.
During the demo we were shown a glimpse of a new enemy, The Brotherhood, an ancient organization that were once guardians of the darkness and tasked with preventing it from being used for evil. Over the years though they have become corrupt and want to use the power for personal gain. Because of their past history with the darkness, they know the best way to battle it, making for a smarter enemy for the player to fight. A lot of what we saw were enemies that toss flash bang grenades, use flashlights or stay positioned near sources of light, which make Jackie’s powers unusable.
As the player kills enemies they can earn dark essence, which is used to upgrade your powers from the talent shrines found throughout the levels. To keep things interesting, players will gain more essence as their kills become more creative and gory, such as impaling an enemy, slicing them in half with a fan blade, or just eating the hearts out of their chest.
The talent tree is broken up into four different branches which include weapon, mystical, demonic and gun channeling upgrades. Gun channeling is the ability we got a demonstration of during the demo. It allows the gamer to infuse their darkness powers into their weapons, granting unlimited ammo and additional damage for a limited time.
After getting my hands on the game I have to say I had a lot of fun with it. The quad wielding system added a lot more of an arcade mayhem feel as you could shoot with both hands and then use your demon arms to grab or slash enemies. The controls handled well, the movement was fluid and even though you have to manage four weapons at the same time it really never feels like there are too many attack buttons to keep track of.
All-in-all The Darkness 2 looks like it could be a promising game with plenty of destruction to keep players entertained throughout the entire playthrough. The story sounds a little crazy, crossing demons with a mafia revenge story, but it has a fair amount of comedy as you hear the demon arms cracking jokes at Jackie’s expense, causing him to argue with himself a bit.
Visually the game has a really nice look to it; the artwork seems to have adopted a comic book feel to it, which is where it all came from to begin with. Everything has a decent amount of detail and all of the animation seems smooth. Fans of the first game will be glad to see the improvements made to the second and new players should have a good time with this one as well.