The Darkness Review
Every so often a game comes along that hooks you right in from the very beginning. The Darkness is one of those games. Not only is the game's premise of a mafia enforcer undergoing a dark transformation under the influence of a demonic possession unique, but it is brilliantly executed as well. The game's graphics and environments make for some great atmosphere that is backed up by a compelling story and some excellent voice acting. If you enjoy shooters with a strong sense of macabre, then you'll want to embrace The Darkness.
Right from the beginning you'll know that you're not in for your typical first-person shooter experience. You awaken from an unconscious state to find yourself in the backseat of a convertible speeding through a tunnel. You are Jackie Estacado, a mob enforcer who finds himself in the middle of a job gone horribly wrong. As your fellow mobsters race to evade the cops and rival gangsters, you learn that your latest job was to collect on some money owed to the head of your crime family, Uncle Paulie. After barely escaping from a horrendous wreck, you find that Paulie holds you responsible for the lost money and puts out a hit on you. If that weren't bad enough, you begin to hear a demonic voice inside your head. Just what the demon wants you to do isn't clear, but it sure gives you some lethal powers with which to do it. Part of what makes the story so interesting is that Jackie is a conflicted character, with his dark half represented by the manifestation of his demonic powers and his good half by his love for his girlfriend. When you first see Jackie and you hear the demon whisper to you that she reeks of innocence you know that you're in for an interesting ride.
Story alone may be enough to carry an RPG, but in a shooter the action needs to deliver as well. Luckily, The Darkness does deliver, but it's in no small part due to the powers that you possess. There are conventional weapons in the game but they're not all that powerful. You'll dual-wield your pistols for most of the game, and even then their main use will be to shoot out lights to let your powers feed from the darkness. The game features an auto-aim system that will lock your aiming dot to an enemy after you move it in close to your target. This makes it a lot easier to kill off your enemies with a minimal amount of ammunition thanks to the auto-targeting system's love of head shots.
Enough about guns, let's move on to the really interesting part. When you want to use your demonic powers you first press the right bumper which will cause two pretty evil looking snakes to emerge from your shoulders. These physical manifestations not only look cool as they sit on both sides of the screen, they have some very practical uses as well. First of all they can draw energy out of darkness to fuel your powers. They can also devour the hearts of fallen enemies to give your health a boost. However, the cool part is that you can take possession of one for a limited amount of time. This will allow you to scurry along the ground and sneak up on an enemy for a stealth kill or to enter small openings to get to the interior of a building. As you make your way through the game you'll gain other powers as well. Among other things, you'll be able to call forth small demons known as darklings and send them off to kill your enemies and open a swirling vortex that will suck your attackers to their doom. It's all pretty good stuff and certainly isn't your standard shooter fare.
Perhaps the biggest knock against the game is that it's perhaps a bit too easy. Enemy AI is only average - they'll seek out cover but then remain there popping there heads out to shoot until you pick them off. Also the game's levels merely give you the illusion that you're in an open-ended environment while the game itself is actually pretty linear. Lastly, the laggy multiplayer just covers the basics with deathmatch and capture the flag variants. It's too bad that a full multiplayer component wasn't added that allowed players to unleash all of the dark powers on each other. None of these issues should keep you away from the game, though; they simply stand between The Darkness being a really good game and a truly great game.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 90%. Embrace The Darkness.