INTRO: A strange sort of game is The Darkness 2, based on the popular comic series of the same name. This sequel deals with the return of Jackie, the demon-possessed don who's been pushed to the limit and has once again embraced his dark side. If you don't know, here's the skinny- the Darkness is a very old demonic force that works in well..darkness. It's possessed Jackie Estacado and feeds on the flesh of the living. Jackie has used this power to totally rule his mobster family, while someone is threatening to covet the power Jackie has been cursed and blessed with. This is coupled with flashbacks and hallucinations regarding Jenny, Jackie's dead girlfriend. This game features a great story that is quite entertaining, albeit quite dark.
I hope you love killing stuff, because you're going to be killing many many stuffs during your misadventures as Jackie. Basically, this one is a first person shooter where you get weapons AND demons to maim with. Yes kids, this means you can dual wield guns with your hands and use the demons as you see fit. The demon on the left grabs stuff, and also literally eats the hearts of victims to replenish health. . You can grab doors and shield yourself with them, and even better than that, grab sharp, pointy objects with it and launch them at foes, impaling them on the spot. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, knock a foe loopy with your weapon of choice, snatch him up and press one of the face buttons to gleefully rend him limb from limb, execution style. This is just so much fun, and tearing dudes up will replenish your abilities! That's only the left demon tentacle thing. The right one is the slasher, which lets you, um..slash things. Think one big, long blade that allows you to rend foes limb from limb while you blast them with your firearm of choice.
Of course, the powers are not without limits- they only work in the darkness. This is a really cool mechanic that makes the game tougher. I feel like it could have been fleshed out a bit better because sometimes it feels as though light is added just to make the game more difficult. Plus, if you are quick enough, you can take out the lights to bring back the evil. The darkling creatures are back too, those annoying little creatures that will help you out along the way by taking foes down and protecting you. They're funny and bizarre, and really lead you along your path, speaking in memorable cockney accents. You even get to play as the main imp a few times, which will allow you to scamper about and tear some throats.
You can also level up your abilities as you go along, although to be honest I felt sometimes that I was strong enough without some of these upgrades (done through four different tiers). With that said, it's always cool to level up. The game doesn't feel especially precise sometimes, but that's the nature of the beast. This is a game that rewards and demands pure carnage as you blow through areas, shredding bodies in your wake. With that said, it isn't complete mayhem. You'ev got to talk to the people you run into and and explore what's around you- doing so rewards you with different things, so don't ignore this aspect of the game.
As much as I loved playing through this game, I found it far too short. In fact, I ended up beating it within a day of getting it, which is pretty rare for a gamer of average skill and below average patience such as myself. If you're awesome, you can blow through this in a few hours unfortuantely. Luckily though, there's Vendettas mode. This is a multiplayer aspect of the game where you team up with other characters (a witch doctor, secret agent, a goon and a sword expert) with different Darkness powers. This actually fills in holes and serves as a nice companion piece to the single player game and is well put together.I highly recommend it, although it too is pretty brief at only a few hours in length.
This is game that's heavy on style. Checking in with a beautiful sort of cel-shaded comic book look, this one looks pretty nice. It feels like a comic book and loads on buckets of gore. There's presentation to spare in this one and it looks good.It's colorful and detailed, although textures can start looking ugly when you get close.
Sound is decent. Ambient noise and gun effects are top notch, but the music wasn't great. I missed the style from the last game, that orchestral, spooky music which has been replaced with more generic rockin' music. There's a few well-placed licensed tracks in the game too.
Voice acting is very good across the board. Strangely enough though, the one disappointment comes from Jackie's voice. I don't know why, but I felt like this guy was reading lines the whole time and it definitely wasn't the same guy from the last game.
If you love manic action FPS games with a nasty dose of gory demonic horror thrown in, this needs to be in your collection. This sequel is a wild, crazy and excessive ride that ends all too soon but is certainly worth your time. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Final Score: 8/10