Review by BrokenDreams13

Reviewed: 07/09/07

The Darkness is a fantastic shooter which caters to a more "mature" audience.

When The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay was released back in 2004, gamers everywhere were treated to a very immersive, and somehow different, first person shooter. So when word got out that Starbreeze was cooking up another shooter, gamers rejoiced. That game became known as The Darkness, a first person shooter based on a comic book by Top Cow. It has an amazing story that weaves two seemingly incommensurable elements together in such a way that one would think it to be impossible. It is a tale of corruption, greed, love, and of course, darkness.

The game starts off with a bang as you wake up in the body of Jackie Estacado, a New York style mob hit man on his 21st birthday. You are in the back seat of a speeding cab when you awake, you must have been passed out from a blow to the head earlier. Your eyes open to find two men in the front seat screaming over the loud roar of the cars around you. You begin to realize what happened and why you are here. You come to find out that a money-collection deal for your uncle Paulie has gone wrong and he says you are to blame. He becomes enraged and puts a hit on you for your actions. The high octane car chase ends in a crash and it’s up to you to survive and take down your corrupt uncle before he gets you.

Soon after the beginning of the game Jackie becomes possessed by The Darkness, some sort of demonic creature that represents itself as two big snake like creatures that come out of your back. The Darkness, voiced by Faith No More’s Mike Patton, also speaks to you in an attempt to persuade you to do it’s bidding. After you are possessed you don’t have to have The Darkness out at all times however. With a push of a button the creatures will go back inside of you and wait for your next call. It does grant you some excellent new powers and abilities that keep this from being another one of those run-of-the-mill shooters however, so you will most likely have it out and ready for battle. While The Darkness is manifested, the first thing you will notice is the heightened visibility in the dark along with a less vulnerable body frame. It almost acts as a shield against enemy fire and such. Along with that, your first Darkness ability is called creeping dark. This lets you drop one of the demon arms to the ground and control it as you see fit. Throughout the game you unlock more abilities that enhance your overall power towards enemies. Around the same time you will get the ability to summon darklings out of these darkness gates in the ground. They are little creatures that attack and destroy your foes. Throughout the game you will be able to summon different ones, bringing the total to four different darkling classes. Next you will earn a demon arm attack, which causes a big sharp appendage to jut out of you and stab guys or move objects. Eventually you’ll unlock guns that use The Darkness’ energy as ammo, and a black hole attack that deploys a big black hole used to suck guys into and pretty much kill them instantaneously. Switching through the certain attacks is done with the D pad. Going up and down selects the darkness powers, while pressing right and left select your weapons.

All of these attacks use up The Darkness’ energy and one way to replenish it is by standing in the shadows for a quick recharge. This makes shooting out lights an unpleasant chore throughout the game’s entirety. The other option is a bit more entertaining however, and it’s by eating human hearts. It really can be one of the more entertaining features in the game. All you do is walk up to a dead enemy (it has to be an enemy, no good hearts allowed) and press A. This allows one of the demon arms to reach down and rip the heart out of the dead enemy. Starbreeze really did a good job with the animation here as sometimes the two arms will fight over the heart before it is devoured. Oddly enough, the right one always wins. Take that as you will. Most of the time however, the demon arm will just grab the heart and chew it down with some nice sound effects.

The weapons in the game, although big and loud, seem to come off as useless carry-ons. With all the power you get from the darkness you don’t even seem to need them. The dual pistols you get at the beginning of the game seem to do the trick from start to finish. This may be due to the games effortless gun play. At times you feel like your aiming reticule just takes itself to the head of your enemies. Along with the games lackluster AI, it makes for some pretty dull firefights. One cool feature in the game are the execution moves. If you get close enough to an enemy and fire your gun, Jackie will do one of his various gruesome executions and destroy him or her on the spot.

The developers did a nice job with the overall look and feel to the game. It’s very dark and gritty, just like any M rated action game should be. They paid special attention to detail as the games textures look phenomenal from top to bottom. The frame rate holds up nicely and that’s a real testament to what they did with the constant action and amazing physics. Using the black hole attack gives you a perfect example of what the game’s physics engine can do.

Although the games enemy AI is less than impressive, the rest of the world is rich and believable as New York city. During the games slow parts, you will find many characters to talk to, and often times get some information on a side quest worth completing. These quests range from going to kill someone, to jumping on some train tracks to try and pick up some coins before you get hit by the train. All of these add some length to an already lengthy single player experience, as well as create a more believable environment for the player. The story keeps things moving and once you get to the end of the game you feel very accomplished as it seems like you’ve covered a lot of ground. Due to the games natural length, along with a good amount of secrets and side quests, The Darkness should keep you playing a pretty good amount longer than your average shooter.

As for the multiplayer portion of The Darkness, it’s pretty much bare bones. It is online only with your basic multiplayer game types like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. It does give the host some control over the games settings, but for the most part it’s pretty average. You aren’t able to use the darkness powers you get in single player, instead you play as a regular human with the ability to morph into a darkling. Being a darkling removes all of your weapons, but it does grant you the ability to climb on walls to surprise the other players. There is also a huge lag problem with the game as it is. A patch in the future may be able to remedy the situation, but as it stands it’s nearly unplayable. When it works it can be a nice distraction from the games main focus, and that is the single player.

The Darkness is definitely in the top tier when it comes to voice acting. All of the characters sound phenomenal and true to life. Jackie sounds like a true New-York style mobster, and it was a tremendous job by everyone involved. Like I said, Faith No More’s Mike Patton does the voice of the darkness, and in my opinion does a fantastic job. The only disappointment is the mismatch of voice and lips. The characters seem to not move their mouth at all in some spots, and this leads to a loss in realness in the characters. However the body language matches perfectly and brings a true lifelike appearance to them.

The Darkness is just one those games that needs to be played. From the amazing story line with well written dialogue and plot twists, to the satisfaction of eating some dirty mobsters heart, you really can’t go wrong with this game. For anyone looking for a fantastic, mature single player action game, with a little side of multiplayer, you can do a whole lot worse than The Darkness.

~Mike Pelletier

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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