|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Starbreeze||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 25, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jwan Jordan
April 23, 2007 - The Darkness possessed Mafioso Jackie Estacado is well on his way to your home console in the coming months. For those of you who haven't been reading along with the rest of us, I'll gladly reeducate you. The Darkness is a Top Cow comic book being developed by Starbreeze. The protagonist of this story is Jackie Estacado, a young Mafioso, who on his 21st birthday became cursed with the power of the Darkness. Now, as the overwhelming power of the Darkness resides in you, you must learn to harness its power while keeping it from taking absolute control over you.
The setting for this game is very far from Sesame Street, introducing you to a dark and foreboding New York City setting. As Jackie Estacado, you're free to roam the streets with little restrictions, and it has been announced that the East Coast city will only make up two-thirds of the sixteen hour story mode. The rest of the game will take place in a location the developer ominously described as "worse than hell," which could possibly be the apartment complex I currently reside in.
The game begins with an action oriented car chase through a series of twisting tunnels as before, but what's new is the upgraded engine being used. With the foundation of the game near completion, it is obvious that a lot of time has been dedicated to polishing up the graphics and visual effects. Small but noticeable touches have been added such as the Matrix like trails that follow behind your bullets and a natural blur effect as you hectically look around. Despite being a first person shooter, even Jackie himself has been given an overhaul. Jackie's slim gothic like figure has been replaced by a more masculine form.
Starbreeze has also given more detailed information on the mysterious dimension known as the Otherworld. Starbreeze has stated that the Otherworld will make up about a third of the game's content. The Otherworld is a place that Jackie will dip in and out of occasionally as he attempts to handle his new powers and fight the Darkness for control of his own body. The struggle for Jackie to maintain his body is manifested through a World War 1 setting, where undead soldiers relive their horrible experience over again. Though Starbreeze will not give away the entire purpose of the Otherworld out of fear of spoiling the heart of the story, It is obvious that it is a means for Jackie to increase his Darkness powers. In the Otherworld, when enemies are shot the depths of their Darkness is exposed. The darker the exposed area is dictates the amount of Darkness power you can receive from absorbing them. The absorbed Darkness from enemies is used to increase Jackie's Darkness powers and upgrade attacks. For example, Jackie's demon arm, which is used to impale enemies and destroy crates, can eventually be strong enough to toss cars like G.I. Joe action figures.
Let's not forget about one of Jackie's many unique features which is the ability to summon the Darklings. The Darklings are short in stature, gremlin like creatures that are used for many specific tasks, killing being one of them. What is really intriguing is that the Darklings take on the characteristics of the victim they came from. For example, if you feed on the heart of a kamikaze pilot from the Otherworld, the resulting Darkling will run up to its foes and explode on contact with no remorse. Yet, you shouldn't expect your Darklings to do all the work for you because their dark presence is cast out by the light. Fortunately, The Darkness within draws strength from the shadows and also grants you the ability to see an outline of your enemies in the dark. Many strategic steps can be taken with the ability to see in the dark, as you could easily shoot out the lights in an area and make easy prey of your enemies.
Jackie isn't just some punk that can only defend himself with supernatural powers either. Depending on your proximity and current weapon Jackie will perform dynamic attacks on close enemies. When enemies are close enough, Jackie will perform a knee attack or fire his gun point blank in a fashion very similar to the "Gun-Kata" technique used in the film Equilibrium. Starbreeze openly admits to being inspired by the film and using its technique in the Darkness game. Aside from just looking really cool, the Gun-Kata like techniques is used to prevent players from needing to overcompensate when turning to shoot nearby enemies. Hence, you won't need to rotate 360 degrees in order to shoot a guy just to the left of you (I'm looking at you Doom games of yester-year).
Once you've had your fill of the sixteen hour story mode you can ham it up with friends via online. The multiplayer online experience is intentionally simple but intense gameplay. You play as either the human or the Darklings and some modes of play allow you to switch between the two for specific purposes. The humans can wear armor, and use guns while Darklings are exceptionally fast and able to scale across walls. Most online players will be familiar with the available modes such as death match, capture the flag, and team death match. Survivor mode is The Darkness own personal take on the traditional mode. Everyone starts as a human except one player whose job is to kill and transform everyone else into Darklings, hence the last one alive is victorious. Another mode of survivor puts everyone as a Darkling except for one being a human. The single human is the only one that can score points. As one of the Darklings you must kill the human to become one yourself and then attempt to kill all the other Darklings to win the match. At this point, the online mode isn't complete yet but is coming along very well. I'm confident that by the release date many online players will find themselves anxious to linger in the shadows. Cheat Code Central will keep you updated on The Darkness as it continues to creep from out from the shadows in late June.
CCC Freelance Writer