The recently-released demo for The Darkness II presents a nice little snapshot of the upcoming FPS from Digital Extremes and 2K Games. How does it stack up to the 2007 original? How does it feel to be quad-wielding weapons? Find out more in my demo impressions below.
The opening text for the demo is very clear that the elements on display here aren't necessarily presented in the sequence in which they'll appear in the final February release. Still, with that in mind, this is a decent chunk of introduction to antihero/Darkness-bearer Jackie Estacado and the mysterious leader of the also mysterious Brotherhood who want to strip Jackie of his demonic power.
The game opens with Jackie being crucified as the Brotherhood leader monologues on about Jackie's power and how Jackie had better give it up. From there, the opening flashes back and kind of does the Goodfellas-style crawl through a restaurant where Jackie is about to settle down for some dinner with a couple of blonde twins. Then, in an abrupt and fairly surprising burst of violence, the restaurant descending into a hail of gunfire and just regular old fire as Jackie—legs severely burned—is dragged through the restaurant picking off attackers while on his back. Later, Jackie regains his footing, as it were, you'll acquire your demon arms (controlled by the bumpers—R1 and L1 on the PS3)to grab objects and slash at enemies. To survive, you'll have to avoid gunfire and eat enemies' hearts to regain health, and avoid/destroy lights which prevent regeneration.
The structure of the demo flashes back and forth between Jackie's imprisonment and the flashback shooting, taking you through alleys and later, the subway facing off against orange jump suited enemies. You'll even get to mess around (albeit briefly) with the upgrade system. So it's concentrated burst of what the game has to offer in about 20 minutes or so.
WHAT'S GOOD (SO FAR)
Beautifully textured world
The main thing you'll noticed is how gorgeous this game is. Using a cel-shaded style, it reminds me of the heavy-line look used in Borderlands but with slightly less stylized characters. And while typically this style lends itself to very clean, colorful environments and characters, here it's grime-time with all sorts of grotesque details standing out.
Visceral, gruesome combat
That visual detail is great because it lends itself to the very, very violent combat. Enemies get slashed, sliced, and bisected using the few demon arm powers on display here. There are plenty of opportunities in the demo to pick up objects and enemies and use them as weapons, which varies up the combat noticeably. This is definitely a horror action game and you generally feel like Jackie is pretty empowered to mess some guys up.
WHAT'S BAD (SO FAR)
Shooting and aiming is a little floaty by default
You can swap between dual-wielding and looking down the gun sights of one weapon but in both cases the aiming seems a little imprecise under the default settings. There also seems like there's a tiny bit of swaying in Jackie's hand movements, but this could be a bit of an accidental optical illusion as the demon arms frame the tops of the screen and they definitely are swaying.
This is an unfortunate byproduct of some nice animation, but this is a case where your mileage might actually vary.
It's a pretty strong showing for the game here—both in terms of animation and giving you a sense of the story and world of the game. I'm looking forward to seeing precisely how the whole thing escalates in the game as a whole when The Darkness II is released in February.
The Darkness II will be available on February 7th for the Xbox, PS3, and PC.