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Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Darkness II - Hands off preview.

The Darkness II – Hands off preview.
The Darkness holds a special place in my heart. It was the first game I bought for my brand new Xbox 360 and it was a great game to boot. Going back and playing it now though shows how the mists of nostalgia can play with memories. The game looks quite “last-gen” and there are quite a few narrative and pacing problems. Even though I felt it had dated badly it still had one thing going for it, The Darkness itself. Voiced by the legendary Mike Patten, The Darkness was a great gameplay mechanic that stayed fresh for the whole experience.

So with this in mind I was glad to get the opportunity to see a 25 minute hands-off demo of the Darkness 2 at the Supanova pop culture expo in Sydney.  I was ushered into the only quiet area on the venue’s floor, eagerly grabbed a front row seat and waited to see what the design team at Digital Extremes (who replaced the original’s developer, Starbreeze Studio) had to offer.

As the demo started I was immediately impressed by the graphics, gone was the realistic look of the original and in its place is a Cell Shaded world, heavily inspired by comics the story is drawn from. As I was taken through the demo by the presenter, some new gameplay features were pointed out. The player has a lot more control over the Darkness in this game. One of the tentacles can be used for grab and the other for melee attacks. When combined this led to some wonderful uses in combat. From holding a car door as a shield with one tentacle as the other rips out a gangster’s heart to impaling enemies with thrown poles as you finish others off with a shotgun.
Things are not going to end well for this bloke.

Another feature shown was the minion, this foul mouthed, vulgar little goblin makes his return from the first game and I was assured that this time he was more than just comic relief. In the demonstration I was shown how helpful the blighter could be. Opening doors, attacking enemies, searching for ammo all were shown and the presenter promised me that he had a lot more tricks up his sleeve.

This led to the demo’s conclusion. I was impressed by what was shown with the increased emphasis on using the Darkness as a weapon and the new look of the game. When I first heard that a sequel was coming I was unsure of how it would be received but after whetting my whistle with this teaser, The Darkness 2 is firmly at the top of my most anticipated list.
I was right, It didn't end well.

Of course I had one final question for the presenter, the most important thing to the experience as far as I was concerned. Was Mike Patten back as the voice of the Darkness? With an answer in the affirmative I walked out of the display room with a wide grin planted on my face and the hope for a great game in my heart.

The Darkness 2 is coming to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in October 2011

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