The Darkness II (360) – Review

The Darkness II, 2K Games, XBOX 360

Dark. Brutal. Mystifying.

The Darkness II is just one of those extremely violent games that sufficiently exceeds its predecessor in controls, story, and overall gameplay, however, unlike its 2007 predecessor–it does not offer enough in the way of replayability–the game is too short. This is the most disappointing aspect of the game. The game is rated ‘M’ for mature because some of the scenes were intensely sexual in nature, I am surprised it ‘got pass’ the most staunch critics! Nevertheless, Jackie Estacado and his little minions are back–and there is hell to pay.

Inspired by the popular comic book series by Top Cow Productions, The Darkness II, other than the let above down, does not disappoint. You are Jackie Estacado, don of the most brutal New York crime family–and of course, wielder of an ancient and dark gift known as The Darkness. Two years ago, Jackie used his power to killed his Uncle Paulie–and anyone responsible for the murder of his girlfriend, Jenny. Never getting over her death, in grief, Jackie kept the Darkness hidden.

But now The Darkness wants out–and after an assassination attempt on Jackie, it finally fulfills a long awaited opportunity to join you in your fight against The Brotherhood.

There is this guy, and he wants what Jackie’s got.

Gameplay:  Overall, game-play is phenomenal and stays true to its four-armed combat style. Nearly everything in you see onscreen is interactive. Its neat that they ‘highlight’ areas and objects in the game you can interact with your snake-like tentacles–each encounter, be it a pistol wielding thug or any gate, door, and bucket can be used as weapons. Even eviscerate your enemies in every way imaginable. The tentacles aren’t the only extensions of fury Jackie wields; he is also a pistol-packing, duel wielding killing machine. There is every opportunity to execute new ways to kill hostile enemies–in every way, shape, style, and fashion. What I especially enjoyed this go-round is the clairvoyance (I know, a skill from Skyrim, but you understand me) or path-finding system that facilitates each objective–saves a lot of time running around clueless. The sound-effects are amazing, and visually it is more vivid and okay–the lighting and colors were a little muddled in some areas, overall, effectively facilitated the gameplay experience.

Controls:  The controls are executed brilliantly. Controller input and character response are fluid. There was never any delay or lag during gameplay–this was essential when taking on more than one enemy at once, or haphazardly throwing one of your darklings in the face of your enemies (something they aren’t particularly fond of). Game mechanics overall are fluid. Allowing for your character to function effortlessly in battle. I experienced a little inconsistency when using the ‘demon arm grab’ (left and right (LT, RT) trigger inputs), but this was mostly due to user error. Also, the ‘demon arm slash/melee (hold RB (right bumper) + R (directional)’  was a bit tricky. You had to be at just the right distance to ‘kill the lights’ in the room, on telephone poles, etc. Controls might be a bit awkward at first, the enemies come at you from any and all angles and can be overwhelming at first, but once you get use to the input controls, these executions are fluid.

Pacing:  The pacing is slow in the very beginning of the game, then transfers to sporadic bursts of activities and actions of the 2007 game, the incorporation of new abilities–an entire tree of new abilities. My favorites are the swarm effect–emit this green mist at your enemies not only confuses them,  it stuns your enemies instantly and sets them up for you to move in and proper for execution; another is the ability to customize your powers, which was not an option in ’07. In addition to “gun channeling,” you know where and who to shoot; Nothing’s too difficult, solid improvements overall.

Darklings. They piss on your enemies…literally.

Story:  The Darkness II definitely plays close to the comic book, and the game is “all about” the story, which serves as primary fodder for The Darkness game series, you won’t get to see any of the main antagonists of the series; but if you haven’t played the first game nor read the comic, there is an option to ‘catch up’ on what you missed, presented from the unlikeliest of characters, Johnny Powell, who basically gives you a ‘Darkness 101’ on all the goings on in the game:

“It’s been two years since Jackie used his power to kill the men responsible for his girlfriend’s murder. He’s been unable to shake the memory of Jenny’s death since bottling up The Darkness and now it wants out. A botched attempt on Jackie’s life opens the door for The Darkness to reemerge, and sets Jackie on a brutal and personal journey as he unravels the mystery behind the attack and the motives of The Darkness.” – 2K Games

However, the intimately graphic additions–the brothel (and the intimate acts that come with) was a huge shock. It’s one thing to view an ‘implied’ action in 2D–but in the game, they tread too close for comfort in act 3. Beyond that, I didn’t mind all of the mutilating and ripped up corpses. It’s just part of the game–reluctantly to mention, just as it is in act 3. I’m sure that many won’t mind too much.

The game–and Jackie’s interactions, are revenge-laden and serves as another opportunity for gamers to learn more about the origins of the Darkness. Of course, Jackie must still avoid the light at all costs; the light can and will strip Jackie of his powers and his ability to regenerate, which is also an integral part of the first game.

In the end…

After all was said and done. It took me approximately 9 hours to complete the game–and that was only because I involved myself in a bit of relic hunting and my attempts to improve my enemy slash attack on members of the Brotherhood. I imagine that some can complete the game in less time than that, and this is the biggest fail about The Darkness II. Sure there is the multi-player campaign but honestly, who would be keenly interested in playing it? I mean, you can still play the “vendetta” campaigns–but what is the point? I wanted more of what I experienced in the ’07 game–lengthy gameplay.

Also, you get additional dialogue options to interact with the in-game characters by pressing the “x” button. I guess this was an effort to give you more character control, to feel “one” with Jackie; or have more control within the game. It simply didn’t do enough to engage the character experience for me. Pity.

The Darkness II wasn’t a game that offered you very many options for engagement. I missed the multitude of Darklings I got to play with before (berserker, gunner, etc.) and I could dress them in different little outfits–but I digress. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the more intelligent, and stronger Darkling, as he is a pivotal adversary to the main character, Jackie Estacado.

In the end…will I play the game again? Depends. Was it worth the $60 bucks I shelled out for it–perhaps?  Can I recommend this title for you to try out for yourself?


“Youth is a series of mistakes; manhood’s a struggle, and old age is a big fucking regret.” – Johnny Powell, The Darkness II

Source: The Darkness II, 2K Games

The Darkness II (360) - Review
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
  • Excellent

Review Summary:

XBOX 360 review of 'The Darkness II' from 2K Games.

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