The Darkness Xbox 360
Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Starbreeze Studios
Release Date: Out Now
As most of you will know, The Darkness is a game based on the Top Cow comic books of the same name. The story focuses on Jackie Estacado who early in the game, on the eve of his 21st birthday, discovers he's possessed by an evil demon known as The Darkness. The game begins with Jackie, a mafia hitman, being involved in an amazing car chase. Jackie and his two partners were meant to make a collection but it all goes horribly wrong and the three of them are chased. The one is killed during the car chase and the Jackie and other partner eventually crash. The start to the game is impressive to say the least and is about as gripping as you could wish an opening to be. The drama doesn't stop there however, as Jackie is suspected of betraying the family and there's a price on his head. To make matters worse he has a girlfriend, Jenny, who is also sure to be targeted too. Luckily for Jackie he's about to acquire some phenomenal assistance.
The Darkness is essentially an FPS although thanks to The Darkness abilities that Jackie can call on it's by no means a typical FPS experience. The Darkness (which you can call on by pressing the LB button) gives you two giant and ferocious snake-like creatures that Jackie has on either side on him. In addition to using his weapons Jackie can also make use of the creatures to kill enemies and also to solve various puzzles as they can travel places that he cannot. Early on for instance, you can send one of them out to go down a vent shaft and kill an enemy whilst also collecting a key from him and then returning it to Jackie who can then use the key to open a gate that was locked. During the course of the game the Darklings acquire new abilities and these abilities make the game quite unlike any other FPS you've played to date. The various Darkness powers, which include being able to jet out a deadly tentacle like arm, a powerful black hole to make light work of your enemies and a special type of gun, all use energy however and in order to give energy to The Darkness you'll need to keep Jackie in the dark as much as you possibly can. You'll often find yourself shooting lights out in order to keep yourself in the shadows. In addition to the dark, The Darkness also likes to eat human hearts from your dead enemies and it's possible to increase your Darkness power by eating a certain amount of hearts.
The presentation and graphical quality of The Darkness is impressive and it truly feels like a 'next-generation' console title. Those of you with HD displays will be pleased to find that the game does support 1080p. We played the game at 720p and it looks very impressive to say the least. The HUD has been kept to an absolute minimum to enhance the cinematic quality of the game. As with quite a few recent FPS games, you'll see the screen redden around the edges when you take damage rather than having a health gauge. There are some rather nice blurring and lighting effects here. The textures are particularly impressive and look sharp throughout. The frame rate holds up pretty well throughout the game which is especially pleasing given the quality of the visuals.
The Darkness is certainly comprehensive in its subtitling options. By default the subtitles are disabled but you can turn on subtitles for dialogue, cutscenes, casual dialogue, battle dialogue and comments made by The Darkness. All dialogue is subtitled using bold white text. When talking to a character you'll notice the name of the character appear over the subtitles in grey text. Comments made by The Darkness are also in white text, although a very different font is used to show that it's The Darkness talking. All objectives are shown in text and you can recall them at any time by pressing the back button. The game autosaves at specific points and a cassette icon is shown to signify that the game has autosaved. All tutorial messages are shown in text. In short then, it's fair to say that deaf gamers should have no real problems in enjoying The Darkness.
Starbreeze Studios created one of the finest games on the Xbox with The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness is another quality title. The storyline is interesting and quite lengthy. The game offers enough optional side-missions to not only add more to the length of the game but also to add to the game's storyline. We've called the game an FPS but truth be told it's not a shooter where the action is incessant and there are times when you can walk around and explore, which I personally find refreshing. Generally, The Darkness is very impressive. The quality of the game's storyline, The Darkness powers and the great action sequences really make it a memorable experience. Some might find the game's auto-aims a little too much and that the 'normal' weapons aren't as effective as they should be in some cases with enemies simply refusing to go down with a single shot to the head on occasion. The multiplayer game, where you can play as a Darkling, is simply mediocre and not up to the standard of the single-player game. The single-player game by itself is more than worth the asking price and The Darkness is probably going to be one of the best games we'll see this year.
The Darkness is quite simply one of the best games we've seen on the Xbox 360 so far. It's a game that FPS and action game fans simply can't afford to miss.