The Darkness II quick play preview

The Darkness is one of the most under-rated FPS games of this generation. Coming from StarBreeze, makers of the excellent Chronicles of Riddick games, the comic-book adaptation was a crazed mix of violent action, Mafia saga and dark fantasy, starring a Mafioso assassin possesed with demonic powers, as he quests to revenge himself on the mobster who killed his girl, and rid himself of The Darkness. Now four years later, the game has a sequel, this time developed by Digital Extremes, but continuing the storyline, the gangster/gunplay/horror mix, and the emphasis on using the grisly hell-sent powers of The Darkness to rip apart anything or anyone in your way.

Name

The Darkness II

What platform is it on?

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii U

When's it due out?

February 2012

What other game is it like?

The Darkness, FEAR 3 

Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move or Kinect for Xbox 360?

No - just a plain old joypad,

The pitch

The Darkness II is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2007 release, The Darkness, and features an original story by acclaimed comic writer Paul Jenkins. Unleash the powers of The Darkness for quad-wielding chaos, slashing, grabbing and throwing objects and enemies with your demon arms, while simultaneously firing weapons. Kill the lights to give your powers free-rein...

The storyline

Set some years on from The Darkness, you find yourself back in the shoes of Mafia don Jackie Estacado, disatisfied with life and haunted by visions of his dead girlfriend Jennie. Nearly wiped out by a surprise attack, Jackie re-awakens The Darkness, but in doing so finds himself in conflict with a mysterious cult and its evil leader, who wants the powers of The Darkness for his own. 

Trailers, demos and video

Our first impressions

The demo we played covered a good half-hour chunk of the early part of the game, with the sections linked as flashbacks in the mind of Jackie as he's tortured by the cruel - and rather ugly - leader of the cult.

The action kicks off in a restaraunt, as a meal is rudely interruped by a brutal attack from a rival family. Jackie is nearly wiped out, but dragged along by a loyal henchman, he manages to blast away at his attackers with his handguns. A slick, well-orchestrated set-piece, it gives you an instant idea of the graphical style - more clearly comic-book indebted than ithe grittier original game, though still impressively detailed and beautifully lit. However, it gives you no idea of what is to come.

The second segment sees The Darkness unleashed on the streets of New York, as your would-be assassins strike from left and right. It's a slight shame to see the original Darkness tentacles no longer with us. There is no summoning of goblin-like darklings, no using a tentacle to sneak through ducts and vents and murder your adversaries. However, what we do get is a more visceral and flexible approach. Your demonic tentacles can now pick up and hurl objects (the pointier the better), grab your foes and rend them limb from limb, or simply use your tentacles to slash through enemies or the scenery, using the right analogue stick to direct your blows  Car doors can be used as portable cover, and you’re soon combining conventional weapons with your Darkness powers in a way that feels second nature.

The final section has you roaming through subway tunnels, blasting away at more of your gangland foes. This time the brutal darklings - endearingly clad in Union Jack vests - turn up to provide assistance, but there’s still plenty of work for you, your tentacles and your guns. The handguns, an uzi and a meaty shotgun are a pleasure to wield, and the combat has a nice old-school run and gun feel to it, with the focus on mayhem over caution and finding cover. To help, some goons die leaving blobs of energy behind, which can be thrown to create the hellish vortices that we loved in The Darkness, dragging your enemies into their gaping maw.

With mucho impalement, dismemberment and tentacle-assisted organ removal, The Darkness 2 is a bit of a gory one, but while it doesn’t follow the original’s template, it has a lot of the first game’s spirit. We saw a lot of FPS games at this year’s Gamescom, some interesting, some not so, but this is one that stuck with us. We look forward to putting The Darkness II through its paces next year.

Please note

Gamescom is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year or beyond, as well as letting us get a glimpse into what is going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.

The big problem however, is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there or even have a product manager walk you through a specific level.

So, with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.

What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us, that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review, and especially not a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming based on just 15 minutes of play? However, it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion of what to expect come launch day.



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