The Darkness

Embracing The Dark Side

The Darkness is nearly here. We sit down with a near-final preview build to take a closer look before the game's release.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: June 11, 2007
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It was surprising to say the least to see a PS3 build of The Darkness at Sony's Gamers' Day event last month, and we're a little sorry to say we never did get a chance to go hands-on with it, mainly because we knew we'd be taking a closer look just a few days later. Unfortunately, as these things often are, we couldn't talk about the game until now, but hopefully the impressions we got of the 360 version of the game we're about to outline here will carry over smoothly to the PS3 one.

For whatever reason, we never have really delved into the game, despite seeing it at least briefly a couple of times now. Well, that ends now, as we'll give you the full poop on the game. Though we aren't technically allowed to talk about the history of the series, it's fair to say that we can at least give you the poop on what makes Jackie Estacado, a mob hitman caught between family members that want him dead and cops that want to squeeze him for info, so interesting. It's not just that he happens to be voiced by Kirk Acevedo (of Band of Brothers and Oz distinction), who does a very nice tough guy, it's that the tough guy is backed up with the ability to wield what is essentially pure evil as he sees fit. Oh, and it helps that Faith No More lead singer Mike Patton is the voice of said evil.

The Darkness has had a fairly tumultuous life, starting first as a promising project for the then-ailing publisher Majesco, then getting dropped as Majesco turned into a value/portable publisher, and then finally transitioning to 2K, though it stayed under the guiding hand of developer Starbreeze Studios, who showed they can do a license proud with The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. Even still, the core of the game has always revolved around taking the unapologetically dark vision of New York seen in the comics and fleshing it out into an actual game. A game with guns and snake-like tendrils that can impale enemies and fling around dumpsters and little creatures that take jackhammers to people's heads while giggling manically. Y'know, just like the real New York.

Though it's violent, yes, there's a sort of black humor that comes along with it thanks to the Darklings, little embodiments of evil that Jackie can summon from pre-selected spots with a press of the face button. Berzerkers use the aforementioned jackhammers on their back to off enemies (and then pee on them once they're down), the Gunner is a cigar-chomping chaingun-firing she-demon, the Kamikaze darkling simply charges enemies with explosives strapped to its chest and so on. Though these enemies will follow a basic crosshair-based point and click system, they can and will move autonomously, though they're just as susceptible to the light as everything created from The Darkness and will start to distort and smoke before eventually winking out of existence entirely.

You can prevent this by shooting out any nearby lights, which also serves as a means to refuel your Darkness powers to better use the ever-present demon heads that appear when in Darkness mode. The heads are effectively your entire HUD, indicating the level of Darkness energy and even things like the level of a particular power (cleverly relayed as a colored tattoo for the amount of powers and a number of eyes to indicate the power's level). While we can't quite talk about all of the abilities yet, the ones that have been shown so far like a Black Hole that literally sucks enemies from this plane of reality, the Creeping Dark that lets you send out one of the heads to scurry up walls and take out enemies or fetch ammo and the Demon Arm, which sends out a tendril to initially pick up smaller objects like crates, but will eventually grow strong enough to chuck around cars like they're Matchbox toys.

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