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The Darkness with Exclusive Bonus!

The Darkness
Company:
Take 2/Starbreeze
Website: Official Site
Estimated Street Price: $49.99/£39.99
Review By:
Byron Hinson

Features

Forget Gears of War, forget Forza Motorsport 2 – The Darkness is the game I have been looking forward to ever since the launch of the Xbox 360. The good news is that if you were a fan of the Chronicles of Riddick on the Xbox 3 or 4 years ago you will love it.

On his 21st birthday, the awesome and terrible powers of the Darkness awaken within Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman for the Franchetti crime family. With his new powers, Jackie is able to wreak terrifying havoc on his enemies. Jackie must learn to fully command the Darkness so he can take back control of the Franchetti family, which is ruled by his uncle Paulie, a despicable man who is almost universally despised.

• Next-gen graphics and gameplay featuring advanced voice-synching and facial animations
and fully interactive environments.

• Based on the comic book “The Darkness,” created by Top Cow.

• Experience extremely intense, cinematic action in this gritty, first-person, adventure
game with a horror twist: you are the horror!

• Varying manifestations of the Darkness allow you to devour, impale or implode your enemies.

• Summon and command an army of Darklings – impish and hilarious demonites that
commit unspeakable acts.

• The absence of light feeds and replenishes the Darkness so seek the shadows wherever possible.

• Fight your way through the dark and seedy underbelly of New York City as well as the
ethereal realm of the Darkness.

• Play as Darklings in online multiplayer games and face other players in traditional multiplayer modes as well as all-new innovative game modes.

How Does It play

Review Quotes
"There is one graphical misdemeanour though – the lip-syncing is awful, no two ways of putting it, some of the worst I’ve seen, they hardly move their lips when talking and when you consider how detailed the characters are I’m surprised this has happened"

So as you can see, you play Jackie Estacado, a cold blooded hit man, everything happens to him on his 21st birthday where he becomes possessed by the power of the darkness.

So the start of the Darkness is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, I won’t spoil what happens or try and spoil any of the stories in my review, but the game starts out with a driving section where you just control the main character. Once you have past this you will get to learn the basic controls, these are dual weapon holding, where you can use the left and right trigger buttons to shoot your weapons.

The Left bumper button is used to turn on “The Darkness” later in the game, while the right bumper is used to take control of various darkness powers. The first of which I will talk about now – creeping darkness, this is pretty cool as it allows you to move around one of the Darkness tentacles as I’ll call them, it moves around and you can take out enemies at a distance and rip out their heart! I love it! You can also use them to take out lights with a stab and to sneak around to see what is on the next corner. This can also be used to collect various extra content hidden items around the levels that open up special content such as art work on the main menu screen.

So as this game is called “The Darkness” you expect it to be dark...The Darkness itself manifest itself into the form of two snake-heads which show up on either side of the screen. When you are using your powers you must move in the shadows as this allows you to fill up the powers and keep using them...move into the light and they will start to burn away. So moving and taking out the lights around you is a must. I won’t talk about too many of the powers as it is well worth seeing them for yourself, but lets just say that later in the game it gets even better! Another early power is to spawn creatures called Darklings, they work on your behalf and can attack enemies as well as opening up doors for you. It is well worth making use of them throughout the game.

Jackies' abilities will increase as you flow through the game, you consume the hearts of each person you kill which helps refill your Darkness gauge (which is measured by having patches which glow on the heads of the snakes on the screen) Not only does this increase darkness, it also helps boost your Darkness level which means your snakes get more and more powerful the more they eat! Oh and the sound for eating a heart is great, it makes my Fiancé squirm so it must be.

As I said, I won't take about the more advanced powers you get, but killing bosses give you more advanced powers as the game goes on. I think one of the best things about the Darkness is that you can choose a different way to take on all the set pieces in the game, you can use the Creeping Dark to check areas out, or you could go in all guns blazing if you want to.

For a game that you would expect to be a first person shooter, The Darkness has a lot of story and slow down time for you to take everything in. It feels like a proper adventure, you can visit friends, heck you can even spend over an hour and a half in a girlfriend’s apartment watching a full length movie on the TV and visit his auntie.  The length of the game is the only thing that really lets it down in the long run; you can get through it in little under ten hours. That isn’t to say it isn’t great during that time as it certainly is.

The game does have some basic flaws though, the boss fights don’t feel as good as they should have done, they feel quickly put together with less thought than the rest of the piece. The let down though is the multiplayer side of the game, while I have only had the chance to play a few games due to the lack of people online during my reviewing period, while Starbreeze has admitted that multiplayer was an afterthought, sometimes I feel that it would have been better off left out of the game.  The multiplayer is based around shapeshifting from human to darkling, when a darkling you can run up walls, jump etc, all of it can be reasonable fun but the melee combat seems just tacked on. It certainly won’t hold peoples game time for too long.

So back to the single player the gameplay is very good and despite looking and playing similar to a first person shooter, it feels different and fresh. The game is separated out into chapters, saving is done via checkpoints, all of which are given out in good spaces so as not to get too frustrating.

Achievements have been well spread out in the game, not just for the single player but also through the multiplayer side of the game.  As I mentioned earlier there are lots of extras to be viewed in the main menu, most of it is artwork but there are other bits and pieces you can open up as the game goes on.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically I actually think that this game looks better than Gears of War in general, I know it is a tough one to say, but the detail on the settings, the look of the characters and the way in which they move is truly excellent. The framerate of the game is also superb, there is no slow down at all and with the detail on the screen it is a real plus point to the developers. The game is very dark, but I’m pleased to say that the developers have not only added gamma options, but also various profiles to make adjustments just how you want them to be.

There is also excellent coverups of the loading scenes in each stage - Jackie has various interludes where he talks about part of his life, not only do they look great (done in engine) they are also covering up the level load times, perfect!

There is one graphical misdemeanour though – the lip-syncing is awful, no two ways of putting it, some of the worst I’ve seen, they hardly move their lips when talking and when you consider how detailed the characters are I’m surprised this has happened.

Sound again is superb, from the voice work to the actual sound effects – everything is great. In Mike Patton (Faith No More) they have in my view found the perfect voice for “The Darkness” and all of the character voices do a great job. The game also has some very decent orchestral music along with some excellent rock music.

Final Comments


Byron's Gamertag

So overall I loved The Darkness, not just is it superb graphically it also has an excellent story and a driving narrative throughout. When I first started to play it I felt that I was playing something fresh for the first time in months, it felt polished completely compared to other games as well. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t last long enough, but in saying that what is here is excellent and you always have the low quality multiplayer to play on with as well as lots of extras to unlock. If you don’t buy it you really will miss out, superb.

 
Specs & Package
Overall Score 92%
Version Reviewed The Darkness (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 The Darkness DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Excellent framerate
Superb Graphics
Great Gameplay
Decent Story
The Bad Points Not Scary
Dull multiplayer
HD Resolutions 480p
720p
1080i
1080p


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