The Darkness 2 PS3 review
If you want to polarise a room, start playing The Darkness 2. Half the populace will take one look at your demon arm burrowing about in a mobster’s squishy bits and leave the room – and your life, forever. The other half will form a crowd. (To see why, check out our Darkness 2 video review.)The onlookers will suggest the next way to kill a guy. They’ll savour every execution and gaze in awe as you quad-wield a pair of Uzis and a pair of nightmarish killer-tentacles. These people are hardened gamers, and they’re transfixed because the eponymous ‘Darkness’ is the primal urge that lives inside every shooter fan.
Playing The Darkness II feels like playing a normal shooter with all the cheats turned on. To have such raw power and sheer range of attacks at your disposal is refreshing and massively compulsive. The 2007 original gave you a pair of demon arms to grab, slash and smash enemies with, but the way that this expands upon that with the quad-wielding mechanic is magnificent.
Every combat encounter is different. You rip off a car door and use it as a shield, then slice someone in half with it while you pepper the others with lead. You spear people with scaffolds. You rip them in half like the world’s scariest butcher. You go all military shooter and run about using a rifle for a while, without taking so much as a breath to reflect on your barbaric acts. Why? Simply and brilliantly, ‘cause The Darkness II gives you the choice to.
You can play through most of the game without firing a bullet, in the same way that you can largely ignore your demonic powers. The Darkness (brilliantly voiced by alt-rock legend Mike Patton) tells you to do bad things, just as your darkest gaming urges tell you to – it’s a match made in heaven. Wait – hell. Somewhere fun, anyway.
Just when you get your head around the grisly arsenal at your disposal, it expands. Each kill earns you dark essence, which can be spent on new abilities like gaining more health when you eat a heart (great source of iron), making enemies float in the air, or earning extra ammo from executions.
The more imaginatively you slaughter, the more you’re rewarded. A bit like primary-school art lessons, but with less finger-painting and more grown men screaming for their lives. Then the darkling turns up, and adds a new paintbrush to your art set. This (inexplicably) cockney critter works with you to distract enemies while you go to work on them, guides you through to the next area – and later in the game you can even control him and perform his trademark eye-gouging first-hand. The loveable scamp.