Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

PC28- Not Even For One Page

It all makes sense now! The Sins's whole deal is just a vast anti-legs conspiracy! Lust and Pride's squiggly butts, Gluttony's snake-ish tail... Ye gods, Sloth's globness! This goes all the way to the top! I wouldn't be surprised if the Sins dropped subliminal messages to that cult just so they'd build a giant wall and give the Sins opportunities to throw hosts over it.


Long, Just buy a damned umbrella Review: The Darkness 2- The Darkness 2 runs into a pet peeve of mine right out of the gate: stupid difficulty names. I think I accidentally set the difficulty to just under max and played through a few hours of the story like that. The difficulty in the game is so uneven that it was hard to tell until the game just stuck me in a room and had enemies pour out of the walls until I got bored and went to set it to easy to blow past that part. When you're just walking around encountering small batches of enemies, they may be bullet sponges but the game is by no means difficult, even on that higher difficulty. Unfortunately, the designers opted for the “just add more enemies” method of challenge. At times it's so damned hard too see what's hurting you between the light blooms and washed out graphics to the blood splashes when you're hurt. There was a good hour of the game where I died over and over and over simply because I couldn't see the enemies or environment so I'd get caught up on an object and not be able to dodge or get shot down by an enemy I couldn't find. There are some horrendously stupid set pieces for battles. Like a twenty minute long gun fight in small room with lots of light against enemies that can teleport in behind you, and without checkpoints. At least I think it didn't have checkpoints because I was just fighting the same four enemies over and over and over so it was hard to tell if I picked up where I left off after dying. How are events like this STILL in video games? We have a few decades of FPSs to learn from and “don't stick the player in a room full of enemies that endlessly respawn” seems like a lesson designers would have picked up on years ago. The end of the game is just awful. There's really no nice way to put it because it's that bad. It's a few hours of increasingly long and tedious gun fights until you reach a story point and then the game just decides it's over. There's surprisingly little resolution to the story. The ending is a build up to something special but there's no pay off. You get ten seconds or so of story and then roll credits.
It's such a shame that the gameplay is so subpar, because The Darkness has an interesting story, especially for a shooter. Characters are well-developed, it handles emotion well, you form a bond with your Darkling, some characters die and it has meaning, and even your mobster goons grow on you and you kind of care about them by the end. Heck, Jenny died in the previous game but you're still invested in her and she's more likable than most RPG characters. The only characters that don't work out are the bad guys. I like the main villain in design and personality but what was his motivation? He wants to take the Darkness and... Be all evil. And stuff. Even when he gets bits of the Darkness, what does he do with it? Pretty much nothing he couldn't do before. Why does he even need the Darkness? Before going after Jackie, the bad guy can warp, his minions can create Darkness weapons and armor, and the organization has access to incredibly powerful ancient relics. Taking the Darkness gets him what? Darklings? Congratulations, you spent more than two decades searching for a relic and enacting a plan so you can make weak, fodder minions that are easily dispatched by a single bullet or a nightlight. There's a decent pay off for a third game after the credits but given how short this one was and how much of the last few hours is tedious padding, it doesn't leave a good taste in your mouth.
There are some niggling system decisions that hamper the experience too. A big one being a lack of a manual save, which is a real pain when going back to find the collectibles. Even when you reach a checkpoint and the game shows the “Saving” icon, that doesn't mean your progress has actually been saved. I had to find the same collectible three times because I quit after checkpoints and save icons but the game wouldn't register the item until I buckled down and just beat the entire stage all over again. The controls are a bit hard to get used to with dual wielding guns and dual wielding the Darkness. There's a lot you can do so the controller is fairly jam packed, especially once you start unlocking extra powers. What lights you can or can't shoot out seems almost random at times. A tiny wire cover can somehow protect a light bulb from a shotgun blast and the headlights on vans are made of the strongest material known to mankind. Given how important to the story and gameplay managing levels of light and dark is, you'd think this would be handled better. Jackie keeps falling for the same trap over and over too. When you have a blatantly obvious and easily exploitable weakness, wouldn't you take some kind of precautions to protect yourself from it? Even just buying a damned pair of sunglasses would go a rather long way. I won't pick apart the esoteric “rules” of the Darkness, but some of it just doesn't make sense and Jackie never seems to do anything about it. Why do covered lights hurt the Darkness but Christmas lights or even a raging fire not affect it in the slightest? If all that's required is that not a lot of light touches the Host, wouldn't you just walk around in a big overcoat and a giant sombrero. Granted you wouldn't be striking the most menacing profile for a mobster but it's better than being defeated by the flashlight app on somebody's phone.
I think some of my problem is that I look back on The Darkness as how I want it to be in my mind rather than how the games actually are. It's the same problem I had with Infamous. You have a great world and character setups and you dangle fun, creative powers in front of the player but then the gameplay is little more than your standard shooter. Having a creature of awesome power as a melee weapon isn't all that useful when everybody you're fighting has guns. There's a part of the game where you visit “Hell” and the demons there use guns. That's when you know you've reached oversaturation. I actually had fun going back to find the collectibles and story bits with the New Game+ mode. The collectible relics all come with a bit of narration that weaves the Darkness into history like Roanoke, Popes, and Biblical stories so they're worth collecting them. To get them, I set the difficulty to the lowest level and ran through the game tearing dudes up with the Darkness and just having fun being messy. THAT is what the whole game should have been like. You should never pick up a gun in this series as long as you're in control of the Darkness.
There's a "Vendetta" mode that has you play as some side characters for smaller missions but the whole mode is a waste of somebody's time and money and space on a disk. The characters have three, maybe four, quotes that they say ad infinitum. They spout the same lines when you take damage or kill enemies and all the mode is is you going through small arenas killing the same enemies you already killed hundreds of in the main campaign. My quitting point was an arena that was completely bathed in light so 90% of the screen was pure white, I couldn't see what was killing me, you lose your regenerating health and your special moves, and you're surrounded by a squad of strong enemies that warp every time you hit them, are heavily armored, and that that you can't do the execution kills on. Even lowering it down to the easiest difficulty, you get wasted in under thirty seconds, leading to watching the lengthy death sequence, loading, and the intro to that fight again and again. You can go online for multiplayer but if the only way to get around a poor design is to turn an otherwise entirely single player game into a forced multiplayer game just means that something went very wrong in the design phase.
Even if you're a fan of the story and liked the first one, The Darkness 2 isn't really worth playing. If you absolutely must, rent it or pick it up on sale and try to get the "Limited Edition", which by no means seems "limited" seeing as how over a month after its release, store shelves are still fully stocked with the "limited edition", to get the bonus items. One lets you power up faster and the other gets you the better Darkling personality. You also get the first two volumes of the comic for free but it's pretty lousy. It's kind of just softcore porn for people not old enough to buy Playboy and Jackie has no redeeming qualities. The Darkness is a comic from the 90s published by Image and that shows. Video game Jackie is a dirtbag but he's kind of a lovable dirtbag and video game Jenny is leaps and bounds better than comic Jenny.
Sins Committed: Repetitive combat, Bad level design, Short
Virtues Acted: Good writing, Good characters, The Chestburster execution move is really fun to watch and for no reason whatsoever, the Darkling is British and it's awesome