Dig & Tom Double-Team The Darkness On 360, Spit-Roast Style
Posted by Diggler & Tom - 5/8/2007 20:15
|The Darkness is a mature new FPS for the 360 and PS3. In it you play a mob hitman who develops super-human abilities and humongous cock-like tentacles|
For me, The Darkness fills a similar void to that which Prey
did last year. By that, I mean it's a sorta fun, if mildly average FPS designed to keep us busy in these slow summer months, while awaiting the true beauties due at the end of the year.
The game tells the tale of Jackie Estacado, a young mob hitman, who on his 21st birthday is betrayed by his peers and stenciled in for a good whack. Unfortunately for them, Jackie is afflicted with a hereditary curse though, one that just so happens to also kick in on his 21st birthday. Said curse involves him spontaneously sprouting humongous black tentacles, endowing him with super human abilities, and becoming partially possessed by an evil beastie known as The Darkness.
From the developers of the superb Riddick of a few years back, it's conceptually very similar in terms of gameplay though, blending FPS combat with a more character-focused, story-heavy adventure game, along with free-roaming side quests on top. It's far from as memorable as that beaut was back in its prime though - for reasons I'll come back to - which comes as a wee bit of a disappointment to a mega-fan such as myself.
|First impressions are amazing,|
thanks to a shocking intro and
superb voice acting
At least, that's my take so far. I have to admit though, at the time of writing I'm far from finished. If I were to hazard a guess in fact, I'd say I'm barely half-way through. For that reason, I figured I'd draft in a Darkness expert to help me out with this one; Mr. Tom himself...
Tom: I on the other hand have actually finished the game, and fallen somewhat in love with it. I agree that it does have its faults, but the further you get, the better it becomes. Take your Darkness powers for example. Nothing quite beats spearing someone with your Demon Arm - waving 'em around while they scream in agony - while at the same time shooting some dude in the face. It's like a night out in Romford.
Starbreeze continue to uphold their already stellar reputation with this game, which I reckon will tide us over quite nicely until the upcoming Riddick HD remake-slash-sequel, Assault On Dark Athena.
Makes sense that you'd like it, seeing as you pretty much are
The Darkness. Before bashing commences on my side though, let us concentrate on - in my opinion - the game's strong suit; the visuals.
|The game boasts gorgeous graphics on the 360, but we hear the PS3 version looks comparatively cack|
While me and Tom are both playing the 360 version - and thus can't vouch for the PS3 port - I have to say the game is god-damn gorgeous. Character models may be rigid, a little lifeless and as Jam would tell you, walk as if struck down with hemorrhoids, but the actual levels themselves? Honestly, some of the best visuals I think I've seen in Xbox land. The detail is immaculate, the lighting is moody as shit, and the exquisite motion blur decks the whole thing out in a superb yet subtle realism.
If that weren't enough, the physics also prove rather stunning. You'll find yourself truly taken back the first time your ginormous Hentai tentacles hurl a massive rubbish tip 30 meters down the street, knocking dudes down like bowling pins in the process. Big thumbs up on this front.
Tom: One problem I noticed with the physics though was on Jackie's hair; sometimes when he was getting off the train, it'd go a bit WICKY WILD WILD WEST for no apparent reason.
Apart from that though, I agree with you 100%. The head snap from the aforementioned shooting people in the face is spot on for example (not that I'd know), and the way the physics kick in when you unlock the incredible Black Hole ability is pretty fucking awesome too.
|Detail proves stunning. Entire movies and TV shows can even be watched on the various tellies dotted about, with the PS3 boasting more thanks to Blu-Ray|
In addition, the faces are quite well done. I found myself rather repulsed by a certain old lady on the subway, but I'd well bang Jenny, Jackie's Girl.
(Don't kill me Jackie).
Aye, voiced by Lauren Ambrose too I believe, who - despite being a ginge - I've had a thing for, for quite some time.
Actually - I'm sure you'll agree - we gotta chuck some serious love at the sound in general. The voice acting right across the board is second to none, with Mike Patton as The Darkness stealing the show in particular. His constant whispering of evil nothings into your ear - like some kinda demonic Gollum - strikes the perfect mixture between the funny and the...downright disturbing.
Personally, I also boast quite the boner for the music too, dripping with atmos as it is.
Tom: Aye, Mike Patton is always a hit, while Kirk Acevedo (Band of Brothers, The Black Donnellys) does a bang-up job as Jackie in that scary mafia type kinda way. All the voice acting is spot-on to be honest, I can't say I'd fault anyone or anything on this front. I even came across random people in the street having conversations (I could've sworn one of them was talking about bums), which all helps make the game feel far more immersive.
Gameplay-wise, I found it very slick and smooth too. The control system utilizes the two triggers - one for each gun - as if you're dual wielding in Halo 2, while the two shoulder buttons are used for controlling the Darkness. I've heard a lot of people diss the guns and the way they handle, but I've not had any problems myself...you?
Dig: Hell yes
|Guns lack finesse. The Darkness powers however let you do everything from see in the dark, to walk on walls, and prove by far the most interesting part of the game|
. This, for me, is where the game starts to fall apart I'm afraid. I'm just amazed that six years on from Halo, devs are still
failing to grasp just what made that game feel so great. As a console FPS, The Darkness fumbles quite spectacularly for me, with its pinpoint reticule more of a nuisance than a guidance when it comes to the gunning down of rival gangers. It's incredibly fiddly and aggravating to control in my opinion.
|Fab in-game cut-scenes kick in from time to time in which The Darkness goes ape-shit. Sadly, you can't really control 'em|
True, one may argue that the guns are not what this game's about. It's all about the powers, right? It sure is. In fact the tentacle impalings and what little I've seen of the aforementioned Black Hole ability you touched upon are incredibly cool. I just couldn't help but feel like the game took its sweet time letting you at 'em though.
All the supernatural stuff feels a fair bit at odds with the mob angle too in my opinion...almost like two separate games at times. Actually, make that three, when you chuck in the truly god awful World War 1 trench sequences as well. Ungh!
Tom: Ah, allow me to surprise you then and say that you are not alone on that one. I too was not a fan of the bleak, sparse, foggy and downright confusing WWI sections (with the exception of the awesome quadriplegic amputee on the train). To be fair, that may very well have been the idea, but I feel these sequences would've worked a whole lot better if they'd been kept to smaller, more confined environments.
I also agree on it taking too long to give you the powers, however it does mean you have something else to work towards other than just fulfilling plain, simple revenge.
|Darklings are evil little bastard minions who you can conjure up to help out. At least, in theory...|
Tom: The only other downer I can think of is having to eat the hearts of your downed enemies in order to level up your Darkness powers. It's quite cool at first - as the little bastards tear through flesh and ragdoll physics kick in - but after a good 100 hearts, it's gotten pretty damn tedious really. By the time you nab the "Devour 300 Hearts" Achievement, you'll pretty much want to claw your own eyes out.
True. And let us not forget the game's single biggest flaw of all either. The god damn Darklings. Whether it be their casual standing around doing SFA, ignoring my instructions repeatedly, or just calmly shooting me to death for no apparent reason, the little shits deserve to be murdered. Repeatedly. By me. Which they were.
|Free-roaming appears in the form of a subway, opening up the city rather nicely (while bulking up the game's length too...)|
Throw in the awful checkpoints and lame multiplayer, and all in all, I have to say The Darkness disappoints. It's a shame really, because first impressions proved good, and it's unquestionably one of the most stunningly atmospheric games ever, with the presentation in particular truly immaculate. Everything from the menus to the loading screens to the surprisingly intriguing storyline wreak of style.
The numerous flaws just hold it back for me though, and I don't think it'll be one to linger long in the memory as a result. Come back Vin, all is forgiven...!
Your rebuttal, sir?
Tom: Alright, again I have to agree, the multiplayer is pretty weak. But you can simply ignore it and have one damn fine and dandy single player experience here, albeit one that might not last too long. Personally, I quite enjoyed helping the people out and the various side quests too (everyone's favorite harmonica player, being a prime example). The odd good deed made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...evened out nicely by then murdering people in cold blood.
True, it's not quite the game it could, and I feel should have been, and it does have some niggling little problems, but all in all, I'd have to say The Darkness is more than worth your money. In the calm before the storm that is the remainder of this year, I'd say it should tide you over nicely.