The Darkness II – First Impressions
Yes, this is the beginning of a trend. Such a trend, in fact, that I am already in negotiations with a VERY BIG PUBLISHER for rights to my “First Impressions” series. It will be like “Stuff White People Like” in its scope, tone, and appeal. What makes it special is that it will actually continue to update after the book deal has been signed.
The Darkness II demo does a good job of pulling the player into the story right away. It achieves this by crucifying said player and having Two-Face’s working-class cousin growl semi-coherent drivel about “giving up the darkness” to him. Were the main character a woman, I imagine this tirade would be met with great umbrage by campus feminist alliances nationwide. The Saw-style interrogation is interrupted by playable flashbacks featuring a classic mobster dustup in what appears to be New York City. The faceless protagonist, Johnny Estacado, arrives at a posh restaurant for a nice supper with two identical examples of puberty’s generosity. Before he can take the proper time to ogle, a truck crashes through the wall, splattering the women’s overzealous pituitary glands all over our hero. Guys in bright orange overalls pour through the windows, and the shooting begins. A short time later, a bomb explodes, and little Johnny grows two hideous demonic snake things out of his shoulders.
More shooting and screaming and grabbing of guys with evil snake jaws ensue as Johnny fights through the crowded back alleys with his faithful Cockney demon monkey at his side. The bad mobsters employ limited vocabularies to taunt him, he rips them in half, civilians scream and hide. In a reversal of Alan Wake logic, Johnny must shoot out the lights in the alley and metro station to survive; his toothy appendages apparently don’t flourish beneath compact fluorescents. In addition to the snake arms, Johnny has access to standard gangland armaments: pistols, Uzis, and shotguns. The firearms come in handy when the sinister orange jumpsuits are beyond the reach of the vicious black tumors.
Things I Enjoyed
-The combination of regular FPS pew pew with the om-nom-nom of Medusa’s assertive wig collection make for some pleasant diversion from the genre standard. There’s also a touch of Dead Rising in the left-hand snake’s ability to weaponize a lot of objects in the environment. Car doors, corpses, dumpster, and steel rods may all be used to rack up “essence” kills–the gorier the better–for unlocking new powers.
-The story itself seemed like a plot one might see in the Illuminati branch of The Secret World. I’m a sucker for anything that looks like it belongs in that game, so great is my anticipation for it.
Things I Didn’t Enjoy
-While the combat is fun, I could see it getting very repetitive very quickly. The five-taunt list given to the bad guys–which they fire off as energetically and frequently as their bullets–grows tiresome before you get through the first flashback. If the fight scenarios follow suit, I can’t see this title holding my interest for long.
-The monkey-demon thing is rather out-of-place, even in a game about a guy who has Satanic monsters living in his shoulders. The sidekick insists Johnny created him out of his own head, but we’re given no explanation beyond that. He doesn’t add much combat utility and seems only to serve as crude comic relief. Given that I had no intense emotional investment in the culling of the Pumpkin Patch Punks, seeing the monkey piss on their corpses didn’t do a whole lot for me.
Verdict: not a full-price purchase, not even a priority discount purchase. Had it come out this time last year, I may have been more interested. With 2012′s fantastic lineup, however, I’m afraid this one will fall by the wayside. Soon enough, I shall have no more need for Secret World surrogates. Soon enough.