Be like Jackie, and embrace The Darkness

A roaring start to the new year eh? Capsized cruise ships, Internet Nazis and the supposed end of the world have already left us thinking this year will be, for want of a better word, shit. However, there does appear to be one glistening diamond in the dung heap of 2012, and that particular precious gem showed itself with a slice of heaven on Xbox Live.

2007 brought us a woefully understated piece of perfection, in the shape of a disk titled The Darkness. Derived from a comic book series, it saw the story’s protagonist, Jackie Estacado, become imbued with demonic powers ranging from snakelike tendrils to pocket-sized black holes, as well as a miniature army of impish Darklings. Now, if you really want to, you can read a post I did a while back about the first game, but it’s the demo for The Darkness 2 this section of blogging frenzy is reserved for.

The Demo begins with Jackie being effectively crucified, suspended in front of an evil-looking urn with wisps of purple clouds swirling through the air. Now these sections of The Demo are set in the present, and whilst they do wonders in fleshing out where the last story left off, It’s the flashbacks that contain game play in which excitement gets ramped up a few notches.

Walking through an Italian restaurant, you sit opposite a pair of scantily clad twins, and dinner is going fine,some light conversation, a glass of wine, when someone has the audacity to ruin things by puncturing one of your date’s faces with a bullet. That’s not all, as some joker decides to use the restaurant as a parking space. With a leg burnt to cinders, Jackie gets dragged to safety, taking pot shots at people who obviously want him not very alive any more. Worried he’ll need a disabled parking space from now on? Don’t be, because moving into the night air calls The Darkness out to play, and as Jackie’s leg instantly heals before his eyes, a pair of satanic tentacles make short work of his enemies, dicing, tearing and decapitating with gay abandon.

It’s at this point we get introduced to a new mechanic, “Quadwielding“. It allows the player to control both weapons ans Darkness arms with the triggers and bumpers respectively. The Demo only gets better, because it’s not long before an old friend turns up. The maximum 4 Darklings from the first game have been tweaked, improved and streamlined into one lovable little goblin, complete with a Union Jack vest and a cat-skin pelt for a hat. Then, he opens his mouth. “Allo monkey, it’s been too long!” rings though the air, in a tremendous Cockney voice “Give ‘us a hug!”

Above all, the new “Graphic Noir” cel-shaded look, combined with an excellent script and inspired co-op has only furthered my love for this bastard love child of Crackdown’s art and comic book violence.

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