E3 2011 First-look: The Darkness 2

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In our previous preview of The Darkness 2, series protagonist Jackie Estacado found himself in a tricky situation, crucified by a badly scarred evildoer and his cronies, and ordered to relinquish his hold over the mysterious power that is so awesomely voiced by Faith No More’s Mike Patton. We learned during the game’s E3 2011 demo that this person’s name is Victor Volante, the leader of an organization called the Brotherhood. Victor and his pals know what the Darkness is and they want that power for themselves.

The E3 demo is set after Jackie’s escape from Victor’s clutches. He’s trailed his former captor to an old, abandoned amusement park, which is really never a good place to go unless you’re fixing for a gunfight. Fortunately for Jackie and his two little Darkness tentacle buddies, that isn’t a problem. As Jackie moves through the largely unlit fun park we see the new class of enemies he has to contend with in this sequel. In the last game, Jackie for the most part took on organized crime. Very talented criminals, no doubt, but no match for the supernatural.

The Brotherhood, with its Darkness knowhow, is much better equipped to deal with a foe like Jackie. Or, in other words, they come to battle with lots of bright, blazing lights. Whenever Jackie is caught in a pool of light in this game, his vision goes fuzzy, his tentacles disappear and a horrible ringing sound drones to life. Mundane weapons can still be fired, but there’s a much greater danger of being taken down. More than anything else, these light-wielding enemies repeatedly promise to ruin your day in The Darkness 2.

But there’s more danger than that with the Brotherhood. These occult junkies have also done some experimentation with mystical powers on their own. Just about all of the enemies Jackie encountered in the amusement park carried heavy scars with bright, orange light shining out of them. They seemed stronger and more brutish than your average gun-toting FPS enemy–some even wielding whips and hammers–and there’s no telling what powers they or other members of their order might possess that we didn’t get to see.

The demo also offered a look at the upgrade system in The Darkness 2, which is significantly more complex than it was in the previous game. You’re still eating hearts with your tentacles of course, but you’re also getting additional essence points for creative killings and other achievements. These points feed into an upgrade mechanic that is spread across four different trees, governing your weapons, your mystical powers, your demonic powers and your gun channeling. Upgrades are purchased whenever Jackie visits a talent shrine.

We got a brief look at a powered up Black Hole power doing its thing, but the focus of the upgrades talk was on gun channeling, which is a new power. Basically, whenever this mode is activated Jackie channels the power of the Darkness through his standard firearms, upping their stopping power and giving you unlimited ammo for a brief period of time. Upgrades can be purchased for the power to improve its potency, and to give added benefits such as the ability to see and shoot through walls.

Based on what was shown at E3, The Darkness 2 looks exactly as you’d expect a quality sequel to look. Similar in a great many ways to its predecessor, but with notable improvements that appear to enhance the depth. The graphic-novel-in-motion art style is beautiful and the action seems to move at a smooth pace. In all, fans of the first game have plenty to look forward to here.

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