I was one of twenty lucky people who were able to attend a secret viewing of The Darkness 2 in a swanky bar in London today. There was a selection of delicious buffet food to support my comfort eating and an open bar to help drown my sorrows. Good thing this was a joyous occasion then filled with an atmosphere happier than that kid who received an N64 for Christmas. “NINTENDO 64?!”
The room was not very different from what I assume it would be in any other corporate event, but I was quite content with leather booths to rest my weary feet. There was a small side room away from the main bar which had the throne in it (see below) but apart from that the advertisement for the game was kept minimal. There were Xbox 360 demo consoles positioned around both rooms; tucked away with headphones. I think about 10 altogether.
As I munched away on the mini burgers I chatted with some staff from publisher 2K Games, known for great games such as Bioshock, Civilisation V, Borderlands, Carnival Games and Duke Nukem Forever. Wait, scrap the last two. The lights grew dim and our eyes were directed to the projected screen in front of us where a little presentation was given on what to expect in the demo and how it had improved on the original. After feeling awkward as I was the only person who clapped (albeit very quietly) I jumped on a demo booth to give the demo a whirl.
The game jumps in to a pseudo-crucifixion where your character, Jackie (not Chan) Estacado, is having a mysterious old man nailing him to a wall. This man, Viktor, is the head of a mysterious group called The Brotherhood and want to take The Darkness from you. As torture banter plays out between Jackie and Viktor there is a series of flashbacks explaining how Jackie ended up in this sticky situation.
Estacado is a name known among the New York Mafia and people greet you accordingly as you strut to your table in a fancy restaurant. Sitting down with two gorgeous girls, Jackie jokes about how he hardly recognised them with their clothes on, then one gets a bullet through their head in a gloriously gory manner. A brother from your mafia tries to drag you to safety as mobsters aim to maim in an on-rails shooting section.
After escaping the restaurant your darkness powers awake and you properly get to decimate enemies with what the developers are calling quad-wielding. You can use your hands to hold two guns then also control two serpent-monsters to grab or slash enemies. Grabby serpent can pick up objects and throw them, think lamp post in someone’s face, as well as executing bad guys and eating their hearts. Slashy serpent can cut people in half by holding down RT and moving the right thumbstick in the direction you want to slash.
Ripping the door off a black and yellow New York taxi and using my reptile friends to hold it in front of me as a shield I proceeded to shoot down mobsters through the window with duel-wielded Uzis. I felt like a powerful God. The great thing about this system is that it never becomes too complex to control. You don’t ever need to press all four trigger buttons at the same time, but if you have the dexterity to do so you are more than welcome to.
Being the fact you harness ‘the Darkness’, light hinders you horrifically stripping you of all your powers until you seek refuge in the shadows. You can shoot out the lights Sam Fisher style or just make use of your guns until you proceed to the next area. I was told that later in the game enemies will throw flashbangs and aim industrial-sized torches at you in an attempt to weaken you so avoiding light will become a must to survive.
I was hilariously introduced to Jackie’s new companion while playing the game, a ‘darkling’ which looks like a demon-monkey. He sports a rather common cockney accent and wears a union jack flag. Also he takes great enjoyment on killing enemies for you and relieving himself over their dead bodies. Just like a friend I know at university then.
After making your way through a New York subway avoiding trains and decapitating mobsters finally you snap back in to the current torture-filled situation. Viktor explains he cannot just take The Darkness from you but you have to voluntarily give it up; he is happy to help you make your choice though. A mystical machine in the background tries to absorb Jackie’s essence but before it can finish, and after a little context sensitive button-mashing, you rip a nail out of your hand and smash it in to a mobster’s face. Grim. You then grab his gun, shoot out the light pointing at you and unleash The Darkness. Viktor runs away like a little girl shouting he won’t be so nice next time. SHWOOOOOM, the screen fades and the demo is over.
The last thing that should be mentioned is the new engine created from the ground up for this game. The Darkness is based off a comic book series, therefore the development team have aimed to have the graphics match this with a ‘noir’ feel. They’ve pulled it off well; the game looks like a graphic novel. Let’s hope the story can match the comic book feel.
The Darkness 2 has impressed me with its quad-wielding gameplay, noir graphics and interesting plot. As long as the game can boast longevity without becoming stale then perhaps this game will be an invitation to everyone who missed the original. I had a couple of griped with the demo though. The slashy serpent had a very short range so had much less use than the grabby serpent unless in extremely close combat. My only other issue is that the AI seemed very static and did not like to move from where it had spawned. I was reassured that this is only a problem in the demo and the enemy would be much more active when The Darkness 2 has released.
The event as a whole was great and as I write this article on the very same day the “midday open bar hangover syndrome” has hit me strongly. Thank you take away pizza, you miraculous cure. I would also like to quickly mention that 2K gave us all a comic based on the events leading up to The Darkness 2, a USB stick branded with the game’s logo and a Zippo lighter engraved with the same logo. Awesome.
Here’s a picture of me looking badass sitting on a throne:
For anyone interested, I was able to attend a place at this event completely by chance. I was entered in to a lucky dip by letting IGN UK know I wanted to attend. They then, using a random number generator (I love those things), picked 10 people who each could bring a buddy. My friend Henry joined me and we both had a blast.
The bar we were in was called ‘Amber Bar’ and was a really nice venue. I really do not want to know how much it would cost to buy a drink in there but if you think you can handle drinking with London-prices then feel free to further look at their website: click me
A big thanks to IGN UK and 2K Games for this opportunity.