E3 2011: Behind Closed Doors With: The Darkness II

The Darkness was a sleeper-hit for me. I bought it on release purely out of boredom. I knew nothing about it, and was not familiar with the comics beforehand. Even still, the story gripped me, and I ended up loving it despite a few minor gripes. Even though my experience with it was positive, I wasn’t left needing more. I thought it wrapped up nicely and I never really felt the need for the franchise to be revisited. 2K sought to change my mind with their 30-minute showcase of The Darkness II.

Taking place two years after the original, a man named Victor, (the leader of “The Brotherhood”) seeks to trap Jackie (you) and take The Darkness from him after learning of the power that it contains. We are told by the rep that The Brotherhood hope to use it for their own agenda. He didn’t give away too much of the plot beyond that.

In the original, the game begins quite brutally as your girlfriend (Jenny) is ripped from you and murdered. It’s one of the darkest intros to a video game I have played. In the demo, you begin in an amusement park (full of high contrast, and vibrant colors similar to the visual style Top Cow gave the graphic novels) and you see flashes of Jenny up ahead. Rightfully so, you pursue her as anyone does when they see a ghost. As soon as the player gains control, the years in between releases began to feel like only days. It seemed all too similar, and not necessarily in a good way.

The rep showed off dual wielding two guns and two arms at the same time. As always, you can’t use The Darkness in the light, and your enemies will do their best to keep it that way. Some enemies carry bright lights, and they will do their best to keep it shining on you while their buddies attack you. It’s a cool tactic, and provides some instant challenge right out of the gate. Typically you’ll need to focus your firepower on taking down those guys first, so that you can regain control of The Darkness to take the rest of the group out.

Everything from the original seems to have made its return in the sequel: from the Darklings, which are minions you can command, to the brutal nature of the scenes and dialogue. The Darklings garnered a few laughs as they shamelessly defiled their victims -some of them peeing on their bodies. I couldn’t quite tell if they were being used the same way as in the original, or if everything they did was automatic this time around. They were pretty lean on giving away any additional details. As for the brutality, it’s back in full force as well. There was a moment when one of your Darkness Arms picks up a broken fan blade and chucks it towards an enemy, and he is sliced and mutilated. It actually got a few out loud gross-out noises from some of the viewers in the room.

After witnessing the rep clearing out a room, with the help of the Darklings, the Arms, and some cover, he began pointing out the numbers that seemed to pop up after every kill. When you kill enemies you are given points, and these points can later be used when you find shrines to upgrade your character. It’s up to you how to upgrade your character, which was a popular theme at this year’s E3 I found. I was curious if the points were rewarded to the player based on variety, or creative ways much like in Bullet Storm, or just canned points based on kills. Either way, he ended up using some points to show off “gun channeling,” which allowed you to channel The Darkness through your guns that make for a super-powerful shooting spree to help you out in those tough spots.

At the end of the demo, your character wakes up in a mental house, and a doctor is telling you it’s okay, and that you’re just having another ‘episode.’ A little twist to end the presentation on.

If you were a huge fan of the original, you’ll definitely like the sequel as it appears to be more of the same. Personally I’ve spent my time in that world, and I’m not ready to go back. It’s sort of like when you see a good movie, and they announce a sequel like “The Fighter 2.” Great movie, but do we need a sequel? The demo truly looked extremely similar to the original, and it didn’t have any wow moments that made me any more curious beyond finding out what happens in the story. Hopefully more aspects to the gameplay will be revealed in the coming months to give me enough reason to step back in to the shoes of Jackie. As for now, I’m going to be staying in the light.


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