Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Darkness II

Review: The Darkness II

8:30 AM on 02.07.2012 // Conrad Zimmerman

The Darkness was a rather solid first-person shooter and a good example of a license being properly handled. Developed by Starbreeze Studios, it featured some bold gameplay choices that didn't always pan out but managed a solid game worthy of a sequel.

Picking up two years after the events of that game, Jackie Estacado has become the de facto organized crime leader of New York, and his time since has been spent keeping The Darkness subdued. Now, a new enemy has targeted Jackie and plans to take his gift to use as a weapon of mass destruction. In order to save himself and his family, Estacado must again unleash The Darkness and cut a bloody path through the city.

The Darkness II
(PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: 2K Games
Released: February 7, 2012
MSRP: $59.99 

This is a case of an unremarkable story being handled remarkably well. The surface-level plot line in which Jackie fights against this new enemy doesn't keep its secrets long and quickly becomes little more than one bloody conflict after another. Meanwhile, a second story thread slowly develops which changes Jackie's goals dramatically in the game's final act towards a rather predictable conclusion.

Were that all The Darkness II had going for it, things would be dire. But the presentation is more than up to the task of keeping things interesting. Pacing is very deliberate in attempting to keep the player on their toes. While some developers are content to throw in a scripted explosion sequence or two as a mid-level surprise, Digital Extremes will completely change the emotional tone on a dime, nail it and then throw the player right back into the fray when they're done. Little touches here and there plant seeds to reward observant players and demonstrate that there are greater aspirations than the standard licensed game. 

Effective use of cel-shading gives a feel evocative of the comic books from which these games originate and makes it surprisingly easy to get sucked in. The effect does wonders to keep a game all about being in the dark remain vibrant and lends itself well in a practical sense to the gameplay as everything is easily distinguishable. It also sounds quite nice. In combat, guns are noisy, screams are bloodcurdling and Mike Patton feels bigger than life as the voice of The Darkness. Voice acting overall is stellar and while the plot may not be particularly original, the dialogue is pretty good and made all the better by some top-notch performances.

It's a fairly short solo campaign, clocking in at around six hours, and fun from beginning to end with a very strong emphasis on killing people. Even at the outset controlling Jackie feels like a bit of a power trip with his tentacles in play. Mapped to the bumpers, the right tentacle bashes either vertically or horizontally while the left allows Jackie to grab objects or enemies and throw them. In concert with firearms in his hands, he's lethal at any range. Killing enemies and eating their hearts gives Jackie dark essence which may be spent on new and improved abilities with bonus essence awarded for more violent kills.

These abilities are both fun and useful. Grabs can become executions and reward a kill with health, ammo or even a shield made of pure dark essence (as well as some stomach-churning animations). Gun channeling buffs your guns with more damage, infinite ammo and rapid-fire for a few seconds and can eventually do the aiming for you. The bashing tentacle can fling enemies or sprout blades for a big damage boost. 

When upgrading, abilities are organized in a wheel with each quarter having its own skill tree relating to different types of powers. A steady flow of dark essence ensures upgrades are always there for the taking, but the game's length is such that it would be quite challenging to unlock much more than two trees to the point at which their more valuable powers become available, providing replay value in attempting different configurations of powers or achieving Jackie's full potential in the "New Game +" mode.

Also supplementing the solo campaign is the multiplayer "Vendettas" mode. Playable with up to four people (or solo, if you like), each controls one of Jackie's four supernatural enforcers. These characters are each centered around one of Jackie's Darkness powers which they can use as well as support abilities that contribute to the team. Like Jackie, they collect dark essence from kills and spend it upgrading their own unique ability wheels. Unlike Jackie, they aren't a whole hell of a lot of fun to play. With only one real power at their disposal each, the lack of variety makes the combat significantly less interesting.

At around two hours, the Vendettas campaign is worth playing through, offering a different set of missions which run concurrent to Jackie's story and add some additional flavor, but could easily be dismissed. Greater challenges can be found in The Hit List missions, arena-style boss fights where the odds are much less in your favor. These are really difficult, to the point where it feels necessary to have more people helping to keep some of the heat off (or, you know, just Jackie).

The Darkness II succeeds far more than it fails. The single-player experience features some genuine emotion in its narrative, something games which don't feature skull-extricating tentacles rarely manage to accomplish. And while the Vendettas cooperative multiplayer content feels lackluster by comparison, it's not bad either and serves to pad out this short but otherwise delightful game.



The Darkness II - Reviewed by Conrad Zimmerman
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Darkness II

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
One job down on day I should have off, now for the other job.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I beat Murasaki Baby on PS Vita. Easy 100% trophy. That ending theme tho.
TheGwailo avatarTheGwailo
I have 34 games in my Steam queue alone, 4 on xbone, and a handful on handhelds. I have 3 days to make a dent. Time's up, let's do this!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: To make up for yesterday, I decided to ask a second Community Question today. Have you taken advantage of any Black Friday deals today? If so, what did you purchase? Feel free to share pictures of your spoils, if you have any.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Some Black Friday artwork arrived today ! [img][/img]
Lawman avatarLawman
Black Friday is getting to me. All these games I kinda, maybe want that are at anywhere between respectable and deep discounts, but I'm not sure if I want to bite. I'm wondering if Godzilla's worth $12? After checking review scores, I'm not sure.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Mission complete![IMG][/IMG]
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Black Friday slowly seems to creep its way onto Continental Europe, but I'm not complaining! I managed to get my grubby little paws on a new physical copy of The Wonderful 101 for €20! Thanks, America!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Since I missed yesterday, I am going to do something a little different today. Are there any questions you would like to ask me for a change? If so, please feel free. I may add a second Community Question later today, as well.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Isn't PES 2016 Free-to-Play model just the demo with extra crap thrown in?
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Damn Gumo, you cold as fuck. [img][/img]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
While partially responsible for one of the biggest jokes in the metal, Cold Lake by Celtic Frost, Curt Bryant is doing the soundtrack to the game Slain!. I'm digging the shitty garage band vibe.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
How is the Lightening thread STILL GETTING COMMENTS!?!?!? P.S. I am trying to make Chex Mix, but we lost my special recipe I custom designed. sucks man.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Got a deal on a Surface Pro 3 model that I wanted. Now I just need a deal on a PS TV in Canada and I'm golden.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -