The Darkness II Hands-On Preview

The Darkness II

To say that The Darkness II, sequel to 2007’s comic-book game The Darkness, is gruesome and gory is a bit of an understatement. The upcoming first-person shooter by 2K Games and Digital Extremes is both of those things, but it also provides some very unique and entertaining methods of play. During my recent opportunity to take a look at the beginning of the game, it quickly became apparent that the title will definitely be one to keep an eye on.

Taking place two years after the original game, protagonist Jackie Estacado is now the head of the Franchetti crime family and it would seem that everything is as good as life can be after the tragic loss of his girlfriend Jenny. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for dear old Jackie, as the game opens up to a scene of him literally being crucified as a shadowy group attempt to torture and persuade The Darkness, a chaotic force of destruction sealed within Jackie, out of him. The extent of the game’s violence is seen almost immediately, when the game switches to Jackie’s perspective and forces me to watch as stakes are driven through the mob boss’s hands, and that’s just the beginning.

The game takes me into a flashback, showing an upscale eating establishment populated almost entirely by members of the Franchetti family. Jackie is being led through the restaurant to his own private table, where two beautiful female dancers of the exotic variety await. After a bit of small talk and flirting, things seem to be going well for Jackie. That is until the right eye of one of the girls has a hole put straight through it, and her head sinks to the table. Shrieking in terror and with her back to the window, Jackie’s other gal pal never gets a chance to see the van hurtling into her. After coming to, I am greeted with the sight of a burning dining area with the mangled corpses of my dates stuck and twisted between automobile and furniture. The camera pans down to Jackie’s legs to find that they’ve been completely mutilated and rendered useless from the crash.

Shock value doesn’t end there. The rival family’s attempt to hit Jackie and all of the Franchetti family shows both mobster and innocent customer alike being brutally slaughtered. Jackie’s number-one man tries desperately to drag him out of the restaurant and to safety, freeing my hands and giving me the opportunity to pay back these maniacs for the damage they’ve caused. After a bit of gunplay that has me shooting from hallways, through windows, and from under bars, Jackie and his main wise guy are torched as a gas leak combines with a foe’s lighter in the kitchen.

After another swing back to current times for some more torture, Jackie slips into his past once again. To the surprise of some rival mobsters checking on his should-be corpse, somehow he’s survived the explosion. The power of The Darkness won’t allow Jackie to perish so easily. The vile force sprouts two serpent-like demon arms from his body and tears through all three unsuspecting but well-deserving victims, one of which gets sliced right in half.

The Darkness II

Upon retaking control, this time with the use of Jackie’s lower limbs, I am introduced to the most interesting and entertaining feature of The Darkness II: quad-wielding. With the demon arms of The Darkness now at my disposal, I am capable of using both in addition to a pair of pistols. The pistols are controlled by the left and right triggers, with each serpent usable via their respective bumper. The possibilities for this four-way of destruction is expanded further upon learning that each demon arm serves a different purpose.

On one side you have a demon arm that is capable of grabbing and throwing not just objects in the environment, but enemies as well. In my session I could grasp garbage cans and chuck them at foes to knock them over, metal rods to impale them on walls, or even car doors that would viciously separate them at their waists. After grabbing an enemy, I was left with two choices: I could either chuck him into his friends, or execute him in three different but equally grotesque manners.

The opposite demon serpent allowed me to slash both at and through things. The slashes were done in either a vertical or horizontal manner depending on how I used the right thumbstick in conjunction with the bumper. This allowed me to break barricades, knock out lights, and of course make mobsters half the men they once were. Combining these with the duo of pistols allowed for some frantic, yet quite satisfying moments of slaughter and mayhem that I truly haven’t experienced in a game before. It felt surprisingly natural and nowhere near as foreign as one would assume.

Another key element in The Darkness II will be the light. The reasoning behind it is pretty obvious. The Darkness thrives when in shadowy locales and will completely disappear when bathed in light. This will leave Jackie extremely vulnerable to the effects of mortality, so it was up to me to either avoid, quickly spring through, or eliminate areas of light within the game world. It adds an element of cautiousness that balances out the overpowered feelings one can gather with the aforementioned quad-wielding.

After making my way through the streets and fighting through a few subway stations, Jackie learned a good, hard lesson of the dangers of playing on railroad tracks. Upon discovering the circumstances that got Jackie into this mess, the demo shows a final scene in the torture room before ending. From the looks of what little I got my hands on, The Darkness II is shaping up to be a very promising title worth keeping tabs on.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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