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Release Date: February 7th, 2012 Movie Release Year: 2012

The Darkness II

Overview -

Released during June 2007 by Starbreeze Studios and 2K Games, The Darkness quickly became a hit among both critics and consumers alike. The dark first-person shooter told the story of Italian-American, mafia hit man Jackie Estacado and the love of his life Jenny Ramano. There are spoilers ahead if you haven’t played the original yet. After the don of the New York mafia attempts to assassinate Jackie, the 21-year old hit man discovers an ancient power called the Darkness. After the don also orders the death of Jenny, Jackie exacts his revenge with his new found ability and murders all men in his path to get to the don.

The original game’s heavy emphasis on storytelling was the catalyst for the game’s success. The developer even allowed the player to sit on a couch as Jackie to watch the entire To Kill a Mockingbird movie starring Gregory Peck as well as a complete episode of Flash Gordon, Popeye cartoons and two more movies; Sonny Chiba’s The Street Fighter as well as Sinatra’s The Man With The Golden Arm.

OVERALL:
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
720p
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date:
February 7th, 2012

Video Review

Ranking:

Moving to a cel-shaded format, the visuals within The Darkness II are definitely more vibrant and colorful than the original. However, Digital Extremes does a stellar job of differentiating between darkness and light, especially in how that alters Jackie’s ability to use those terrifying tentacles. The variety of the visual effects in regards to the varied killing animations was also impressive. However, I wasn’t enthused with the overuse of some character models of enemies though and I noticed framerate dips with the slightest bit of slowdown on rare occasions.

A quick note about the resolution: The game’s retail packaging states that The Darkness II runs in 1080i / 1080p natively. However, the highest supported resolution on the PlayStation 3 is 720p according to 2K support.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Similar to the original Darkness, the voice acting within The Darkness II is absolutely fantastic. Mike Patton returns as the voice of the Darkness entity, but the voice of Jackie’s character has been replaced by Brian Bloom. Bloom does extensive video game voice work and is well known for his work at Varric in Dragon Age II. All the voice actors do an extremely great job with immersing the player into Jackie’s world. Most importantly, they sound like they are authentically from New York City.

The creepy sound effects also whip around the player during the game and anyone with a solid surround system will hear Jackie’s long tentacles around them. Just listen when the arms are ripping an enemy in two; there’s no way you won’t get squeamish at the sound of organs exploding and cartilage ripping apart. Bass is used effectively, both during the sound effects and the music. I did hear a couple “boomy” effects from time to time, but the action moves so quickly that it comes as quickly as it goes. The soundtrack for The Darkness II, while suitable for the game’s content, definitely isn’t as good as Gustaf Grefberg’s work within the original.

In regards to the single player narrative, your enjoyment will mostly dependent on how much you enjoy cliffhangers. Without diving into specific plot details, the incredibly unsatisfying ending is designed to setup the game for future DLC or a third entry into The Darkness franchise. The narrative feels unbalanced as well, as if the developer set events in motion almost too fast at the beginning. If I had to place a wager on a reason why the story ends so abruptly, I would guess that the publisher pushed for an early release date and interrupted production at Digital Extremes.

That being said, fans of the original The Darkness will find The Darkness II an entertaining, fast-paced sequel, but not a game that’s going to give you endless hours of entertainment, thus worth the full $60 MSRP. Ideal for a rental through a service like Gamefly or Redbox, check out the single player game over a long weekend and enjoy the ride before it careens off the road into a brick wall.