The Darkness II
|The Darkness II|
|Composer(s)||Timothy Michael Wynn|
|Engine||Evolution with PhysX|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, OnLive|
The Darkness II is a first-person shooter video game with light role-playing elements developed by Digital Extremes and published by 2K Games which was released in 2012. The game is the sequel to 2007's The Darkness which was developed by Starbreeze Studios.
The Darkness II plays similarly to its predecessor, but with the introduction of new features such as "quad wielding," a technique which allows Jackie to use both the Darkness' "Creeping Dark" tendrils and firearms simultaneously. The player has access to one Darkling, who is involved in the plot and useful in various situations. The player can use the "Creeping Dark" tendrils to slash or pick up enemies for executions or to simply throw them, or various items within the environment (parking meters, car doors, etc.) and use them as projectile weapons or shields. Each kill, discovered relic, and execution earns the player Essence, which allows players to purchase new abilities from Talent Shrines. Devouring hearts restores Jackie's health and earns Essence. Like in the previous game, Jackie loses his powers in the light, though in this game light also causes Jackie's vision to brightly blur and is coupled with a high-pitched ringing.
Vendettas is a separate cooperative campaign that runs parallel to the main campaign and allows up to four players to play together online (though players can play through the campaign by themselves offline as well). The story involves four hitmen working for Jackie as they attempt to stop the Brotherhood from obtaining the Spear of Destiny. Each of these four characters have different Darkness powers (all of them can be obtained by Jackie in the main campaign, although some have been slightly altered or upgraded) and are armed with a unique special weapon. Also included is "Hit List", a feature that allows players to replay missions from the Vendettas campaign individually, or play through missions exclusive to the Hit List mode.
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In the two years since the events of the first game, Jackie Estacado has become the don of the Franchetti crime family. Though he still wields the Darkness, a malevolent force that has given him supernatural powers, Jackie has managed to suppress it, thanks to guidance from estranged occultist Johnny Powell. However, Powell became mentally unstable and fled from Jackie, afraid of the Darkness influencing him further. Jackie still struggles with the death of his girlfriend Jenny Romano, which the Darkness had prevented him from stopping.
Jackie and his gang are attacked by a rival mob at a restaurant. Jackie is seriously injured, mangling his leg. After being rescued from the building, a mysterious figure appears and tells henchmen working for him to continue the attack. While under attack, the Darkness calls to Jackie, demanding him to embrace it, which he refuses to do. Soon afterwards, Jackie is caught in an explosion, and slowly bleeds out, and is confronted by an enemy. Jackie relinquishes, allowing the Darkness to take over and kill several attackers, and with the Darkness' regenerative powers, stops the attacks and pursues the attackers into the subway. There, he reunites with the Darkling, part of his sub-consciousness created by the Darkness. He observes a vision of Jenny nearby, and ends up being run over by a train. Jackie wakes up in what appears to be a psychiatric ward. One of the patients appears to be Johnny, who tells Jackie to find him.
Jackie awakes back in the subway and regroups with his men, using them to find and bring Johnny to his penthouse suite. Johnny explains that Jackie is being pursued by a secret society called the Brotherhood who seek the Darkness' powers for themselves using the Siphon, an object created to contain the Darkness by an entity known as the Angelus, which is the Darkness' female counterpart. After discovering who set up the attack at the restaurant, Johnny then provides a lead to the Brotherhood's location at a nearby brothel. Jackie gains entry through help of a prostitute named Venus and finds that the Brotherhood has been tracking him, his gang, and his family for years. He is then captured by their leader, Victor Valente. Victor orders Jackie crucified, and demands Jackie release the Darkness to him, revealing they have taken over his home. Jackie refuses and falls unconscious from blood loss, he then has a near-death experience in which he argues with the Darkness over giving the entity over to the Brotherhood. The Darkness reveals that it is holding Jenny's soul hostage in Hell, forcing Jackie into fighting back against the Brotherhood. Jackie escapes and races home, mounting an attack with his men against the Brotherhood. Upon reaching his bedroom, Jackie is shot by Bragg, a man who works for the Brotherhood, who then proceeds to murder Jackie's Aunt Sarah. After getting shot in the head, Jackie then experiences another psychiatric ward hallucination, where Jenny and members of his mob appear as doctors, nurses, and fellow patients, telling him that his mob stories are simply hallucinations inspired by mafia fiction. Jackie wakes back in the library of his home with Johnny explaining that he had been unconscious for four days, and that the Franchetti enforcers drove the Brotherhood off before they could make off with Jackie's body.
At Sarah's funeral, the Brotherhood launches another attack against Jackie. In battle with Bragg, he reveals that Victor is operating out of an abandoned theme park. Jackie kills Bragg, and then orders his men to stay low while he travels to the park, where more visions of Jenny appear. He is soon captured by Victor in an iron maiden, and loses consciousness from blood loss. Again, he wakes in the ward, but the janitor - a manifestation of his Darkling - explains that the asylum is a trap for Jackie to keep him alive and away from Jenny. Jackie eventually regains consciousness and finds that Victor has successfully drained the Darkness from him. The Darkling helps Jackie escape and defeat Peevish, another Brotherhood member, and upon killing him Jackie regains a small portion of the Darkness. Jackie proceeds to pursue Victor through the remains of a mansion once owned by Carlo Estacado, Jackie's father. Jackie learns from Victor that Carlo had promised the Darkness to the Brotherhood in an attempt to ensure Jackie didn't have to suffer the same fate as his father. Upon reaching the attic, Jackie defeats Victor and impales himself with the Siphon, regaining the Darkness completely and killing himself in an attempt to rescue Jenny from Hell.
Jackie wakes up in the psychiatric ward where the doctors and nurses, concerned for his well being, offer to take him to Jenny. The Darkling appears, however, and sacrifices himself to help Jackie escape. Jackie reaches the roof, and is pursued and confronted by Victor (now a doctor), Jenny, and an orderly who attempt to convince Jackie that his life as a mob boss is a delusion and that the world in the psychiatric ward is real. On the roof of the asylum, Jackie is given a choice: stay with Jenny in the ward or reject the asylum and attempt to reach Hell.
If Jackie chooses to stay with Jenny, the two will head back into the asylum and slowly dance to "I Only Have Eyes for You", and the game ends. If Jackie chooses to reject the asylum, he will jump from the roof, briefly seeing Jenny and the others melt away as he escapes, and fall into Hell. The Darkness, in a fit of rage, sends demons to stop Jackie from reaching Jenny. Jackie, however, gains complete control of the Darkness and manages to overcome all obstacles in his way. He releases Jenny from her bindings and the couple embrace. In a post credits scene, Jenny is revealed to have become the new host for the Angelus, who has seen the destruction that Jackie and the Darkness have caused and states that Jackie has become too powerful, and leaves them trapped in Hell, leaving an enraged Jackie screaming as the screen fades out.
On February 7, 2011, a sequel to The Darkness was confirmed for release in early 2012 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The original developers, Starbreeze Studios, were confirmed not to be behind the sequel. According to CEO Mikael Nermark the company was not given the option of working on the sequel and were already busy working on Syndicate when it was announced. It was announced on 8 February 2011 that Digital Extremes would develop the sequel.
Unlike the first game, the graphics for The Darkness II were developed using a cel-shading technique, emulating the aesthetic of its comic book namesake. The style was achieved with the development artists hand painting the majority of the game's assets to create a comic book-influenced visual style. The script for the game was written by comic book writer Paul Jenkins, who previously worked on The Darkness comic series and wrote the script for the previous game.
Originally scheduled to be released on July 10, 2011 and then on October 4, 2011, it was delayed for both dates and instead was released in February 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and Mac OS X on April 18, 2012.
The Darkness II received "generally favorable reviews" on all platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. The U.S. edition of Official Xbox Magazine praised the dark story, "excellent" combination of Darkness powers and gunplay, brutal finishing moves, and fun cooperative multiplayer, while criticizing the campaign's relatively short length and problems reviving allies in multiplayer. The UK edition said "It's one of the best shooter-stories we've seen in years - justifying its own ludicrous nature in interesting and unexpected ways. If the ending didn't feel like such a cop-out, The Darkness II could have been on par with BioShock. As it is, the gripping narrative and wonderfully empowering combat mean you'll be talking about it for months after completing it." X360 Magazine listed the game with its predecessor as one of their "Favourite Shooters With More Than Just Guns". GameZone gave the Xbox 360 version 8.5 out of 10 and stated: "Ultimately, The Darkness II will captivate you with the combat, but it'll keep you playing due to the story. Even the multiplayer campaign features lines that you're going to want to hear. Even with a lack of truly memorable enemies, the game doesn't take no for an answer and will demand that you keep playing it."
PlayStation Official Magazine – UK said, "no graphic novel has been brought to life in such a deliciously gory manner, with offing goons turned an art form." GameShark praised the heavy focus on storyline and the action packed gameplay. IGN praised the visuals and gameplay, but suggested the game lacks polish and the story, while enjoyable, isn't as strong as the original. GameSpot praised the gameplay, story, skill tree, and sound. The negative aspects of the game, in their view, include the short campaign, predictable enemy A.I, unsatisfactory multiplayer and linear level design. Edge gave the Xbox 360 version a score of seven out of ten and said it was "derivative, gratuitous and needlessly profane, but beneath the gruesome veneer lies a tale of – believe it or not – genuine tenderness." In Japan, where the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were ported for release on February 23, 2012, Famitsu gave both console versions each a score of one nine and three eights for a total of 33 out of 40.
The A.V. Club gave the Xbox 360 version an A− and said that its "poignant moments are surprisingly touching. It's no mistake that, after hours of tearing flesh and bone, magic is found in a gentle kiss." The Daily Telegraph gave the same console version four stars out of five and said, "A decent, if somewhat hackneyed, co-op mode offsets the brevity of the main campaign somewhat. And it's to the game's credit that Digital Extremes hasn't crowbarred in a naff competitive multiplayer; something the first game did and suffered for. A well-judged decision that contributes to a game that is, both mechanically and narratively, one of the smartest shooters of recent years." Digital Spy gave it the same score of four stars out of five and called it "a well-presented and engaging horror-themed first-person shooter. The story elements tread a delicate balance between the usual mobster clichés, yet the quality of the writing ensures that the game never becomes overbearing. It's also admirable that the campaign is utterly linear yet also hugely engrossing." The Guardian likewise gave it a similar score of four stars out of five and said, "There are a lot of players who'll miss the structure, the atmosphere and unique quirks of the original. But Digital Extremes deserves credit for delivering an action-packed shooter that balances its mixture of gunplay and superpowers far better than its predecessor ever did – even if those powers will inevitably conspire to turn the game's protagonist into a monster and wreck his entire life."
411Mania gave the Xbox 360 version 7.5 out of 10 and called it "a fun, albeit short, romp through the criminal underworld and several sets of NPC innards that you'll be glad you took." However, The Digital Fix gave it seven out of ten and said it was "very much a mixed bag. Despite the added bells and whistles of the Vendetta mode, the campaign is still the main event here. While it certainly has its flaws, it is surely a testament to the innovative nature and the downright good, messy fun of the game that this reviewer still heartily recommends snapping it up." The Escapist likewise gave it a similar score of three-and-a-half stars out of five and said it was "fun while it lasts, but sadly doesn't last very long."
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