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 The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11]

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PostSubject: The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11]   The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11] EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:20 am

The Darkness II
Now, where's my
'I told you so' hat..
Ah, there it is..
The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11] The_darkness_2_art
X360A, on February 8th, wrote:
Taking place two years after the events of The Darkness, 2K Games has today announced The Darkness II is coming later this year, seeing the return of Jackie Estacado, who is now the acting Don of the Franchetti family. An attempt on Jackie's life sparks an all-out mob war and The Darkness wants out of their fractious, symbiotic relationship.

Returning with it's quad-wielding gameplay, wherein you can employ The Darkness to hurl objects and use whip-like tentacles to punch holes in enemies, while firing off two weapons at once, The Darkness II promises to be every bit as action-packed as its predecessor. This time however, the game is set to adopt a stylised, hand-drawn look to complement its comic book source material.

“The Darkness II is a well of dark and imaginative violence, and it’s a stylised and beautiful nightmare,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “The Darkness II continues the 2K Games tradition of delivering quality, innovative games that are filled to the brim with atmosphere and deep storytelling. The game takes a unique stance on fighting in the dark versus light. Combined with the arsenal of weapons at Jackie’s disposal and the gruesome attacks of the supernatural Demon Arms and Darkness powers, we’re proud to announce another title that delivers on our core values of creating games for gamers.”

“Sometimes that whooshing sound you hear is that of comic fans holding their collective breath,” said Marc Silvestri, founder and CEO of Top Cow Productions and co-creator of The Darkness comics. “So often disappointed when a favourite character gives birth to a lame movie or video game, us fans have come to expect the worst. And sometimes we get it. But not with The Darkness II. Yeah, call me biased, but this second installment of Jackie Estacado’s epic saga is – in my humble opinion – one of the most brutally cool games I’ve ever played. 2K Games hammered this one out of the park.”

Digital Extremes will be taking over the development reins from Starbreeze as previously speculated and award-winning comic book writer, Paul Jenkins will be on scripting duties, promising a narrative that blends dark humour with "hardcore tenderness". Yes, hardcore tenderness... whatever that means. During the story, Jackie will visit hell and beyond, as he strives to unravel the mystery behind the attempt on his life and the ongoing motivations of The Darkness.

The Darkness II will be embracing the darkness once again in autumn 2011.
X360A, on February 27th, wrote:
Good news for Darkness fans. Faith No More frontman, Mike Patton will be reprising his role as The Darkness, providing his dulcet tones to the ultimate evil and chaotic force once more. And he couldn't be happier, it seems.

“It feels really good to be the bad guy, and The Darkness is as bad as it gets,” said Patton. “I’ve read through the script and Jackie is going to be a brutally tortured soul. I’m looking forward to making his life a living hell.”

The Darkness will still goad the game's protagonist, Jackie Estacado as usual, offering nasty lines and taunts as you use the whippy Demon Arms to wreak havoc through The Darkness II's campaign.

“The story behind The Darkness II wouldn’t be complete or authentic without the character of The Darkness,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “Mike Patton brings a completely unique perspective to the role which is essential in creating the world of The Darkness.”

The Darkness II is scheduled for release in autumn 2011.
X360A, on March 8th, containing some (minor) spoilers, wrote:
When it comes to video games, the moniker “cult title” gets thrown around a lot these days. Heck, I’m usually one of those people so I should know… PS, don’t judge me! Generally though, cult titles are often games that are often overlooked by the vast majority of critics and consumers alike, and usually grip those that play them with unique gameplay and some kind of a hook. Starbreeze and 2K’s The Darkness is one of those titles – incidentally, we didn’t overlook it in our review *wink wink* *nudge nudge* Here we are though, nearly four years later and the sequel is finally heading our way, but this time, Dark Sector developer, Digital Extremes is on board and they’re looking to take The Darkness to the next level.

Using Digital Extreme’s proprietary tech, the developer is looking to deliver a much more action-intensive Darkness experience in the sequel, picking up on everything that was loved in the original, and building upon its foundations. That includes bringing back the Demon Arm-heavy gameplay, but making the combat more up close and personal, with the intention to see the whites of your foe’s eyes as you rip them limb from limb.

We pick up the hands-off eyes-on presentation right at the beginning of the game, which takes place 2 years after the original with Jackie Estacado having rose through the ranks to become The Don of his particular family. First things first, yes, Mike Patton returns to duty on the sequel, as does Paul Jenkins, so if you thought that the switch in developer would tear up the original’s playbook, then think again. The most apparent changes are in the game’s visual style, which comes in the form of a sort of quasi-noir comic book style. While the original’s art style was dark and almost monochrome at times, the sequel seems much more vibrant and full of life. Now I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing at the moment, but time will tell there.

Jackie kicks off this particular demo quite literally nailed to a cross with huge stakes through either hand and a syphon sat in front of him with an oozing and glowing essence leading from Jackie to it in the middle of the dark, dank room. In front of our main man stood what Jackie referred to as a “crippled fuck” whose main intention is to coerce Jackie to try to extract The Darkness from him. Cue blackout and story setting flashback.

The life of a Don is a tough one and Jackie wanders through a packed out restaurant that’s heavy with life and is pasted in more red décor than the waiting room of the Gates of Hell. Passing various couples sat down eating their favourite dishes no doubt and clumsy waiters, Jackie continues through the restaurant with a sense of entitlement and power, all the way through to what is more than likely the best seats in the house. That’s not because it has two busty blondes sat there waiting for the main man, but because it’s slightly raised up and more secluded than any other table in the house.

The scene goes from zero to one hundred in a matter of seconds and as Jackie takes up a seat, the blonde on his right takes a bullet to the skull right before a van careens straight through the wall facing Jackie, squishing her friend and breaking Jackie’s leg in the process. What then proceeds is a full on action scene, as Jackie’s pulled through the club by his associate and he’s left with a pistol packing slugs into any orange suit wearing thug that comes into his sight. Carefully picking off the thugs, Jackie continues to fire leaving devastation in his path behind him, watching all kinds of mayhem ensue – a chandelier squashing some heavy is always a lovely way to watch someone leave this world.

Stopping halfway at a bar so your associate can get his breath, a white van screeches up, unleashing more heavys on the pair. Jackie then continues to dual wield pistols like he’s in some 80s cop movie until the pair descend upon relative safety and take refuge in the kitchen. Unfortunately for the duo, as they reach what seems like relative safety, the combination of a noxious gas and a Molotov cocktail has devastating effects for them.

“The host may only give up the Darkness by choice,” says the elderly decrepit thug who has Estacado held in captive as Jackie returns to the real world, before noting that the syphon is performing much better, meaning that Jackie is slowly lacking the will to give over the dark power inside of him.

In an instant Jackie is back in the vicinity of the restaurant, this time just outside, and thanks to the dark powers of the Darkness, Jackie’s leg is able to heal and the Don rises to his feet. Still haunted by visions and memories of Jenny, his girlfriend who was rather prominent in the original – no spoilers! – he makes his way down a set of alleyways, ripping guards apart, limb from limb with little to no ease at all.

Using the left arm to grab and the right arm to slash – eating the hearts of the fallen on the way – Digital Extremes note that The Darkness II sees the return of the much loved executions from the original. Throughout the presentation alone we saw a few of these in action; especially the Anaconda and Wish Bone which are brutal and every bit like the names that have been crafted for them.

The sequence from the street to the subway that proceeded continued to demonstrate Digital Extreme’s desire to create much more involved combat. Whether Jackie’s using the Demon Arm to grab guns from other side of a room and using car doors as shields, or using that Demon Arm to rip a parking meter out of the ground and using it as a spear; the combat seems like they took The Darkness’ original combat and jabbed it in the arm with 1,000,000 cc’s of adrenaline.

Further into the subway, not only do we bump heads with The Darkness II’s solitary Darkling, who according to Digital Extremes will be less of a mindless servant this time and will have a little more personality – demonstrated by him urinating over a one of Jackie’s downed foes – but the dynamic lighting is nothing short of incredible. And yes, you can use the guns/Demon Arms to take down the lights again, as we all know that the Demon Arms are useless in the light. The scene finishes as Jackie rolls through the subway dual-wielding an uzi and a pistol to devastating effect and snaps his final foe in two using the aptly named Wishbone execution.

“Give me the Darkness or your dear old nan is worm food,” threatens the obviously irate capturer. Uh oh. Jackie’s pissed now! Using sheer strength to pull his hands away from the stakes, the scene ends as the recently freed Jackie Estacado takes one of those stakes and drives it through the skull of one of his capturers. Boom!

Quite whether The Darkness II will reach the high levels set by Starbreeze in 2007 remains to be seen, but based on the intense combat and small bits of narrative that we caught, Digital Extremes are plotting a course to a more action heavy sequel. Of course, what made the original a great success was its thrilling narrative and emotional engagement with the player, so as long as Digital Extremes can weave those threads into the final game, we should be looking at a winner.

X360A, on March 20th, wrote:
Whether you like to admit it or not, Bulletstorm sparked something deep inside our inner sanctum last month that told us that plain ol’ killing just isn’t enough to satisfy our bloodthirsty needs these days. We used to get our jollies off on a teabagging here and a headshot there, but Bulletstorm changed all that by promoting its kill with skill mantra and engrained it on our inner psyche. It seems that the effects of such a system is already making waves in the industry and Digital Extremes and 2K’s upcoming sequel to the 2006 cult hit is looking to round their gameplay off with a very similar system. Yes, The Darkness II makes you feel like a socially inept hamster if you fail to kill someone with that much needed style. Pick up a parking meter and pin a bad guy to the wall with it though and that priceless pop-up is one of the most gratifying moments in video games.

After an overwhelmingly positive response to the hands-off presentation that Digital Extremes were doing at GDC at the beginning of the month, 2K brought that very vertical slice and made it playable for the masses at PAX East. A perfect opportunity to follow up and get to grips with the new Demon Arms if you don’t mind us saying. So now we’ve gone hands-on with it, let us delve in and give you a little more insight into things like the kill moves and how they’re performed, as well as the aforementioned points system, which incidentally wasn’t even in the GDC build – or it was turned off.

Quick recap for those that missed the GDC eyes on preview. The Darkness II takes place 2 years after the original and Jackie Estacado is back and as powerful as ever – he’s now the Don in his family. The demo is a fairly lengthy vertical slice from the beginning of the game and it reveals that Jackie has been captured by a mysterious “crippled F*ck,” who’s looking to pilfer the Darkness from him. Through a series of flashbacks, the demo introduces players to all the key mechanics as the combat spills into alleyways, brightly lit streets and into the subway system. So when I say “all the key mechanics,” we’re talking about the Demon Arm’s grabbing and slashing mechanics, fancy kill moves, et al.

Now the first thing that we noticed with the hands-on, as opposed to the GDC presentation, was this new comic book art style, which was much more apparent to us this time around. Yes, it may be a little more vibrant in terms of colour in certain sections, but the almost cel-shaded esque dark edges does give it a certain level of uniqueness and charm. While we weren’t bowled over by the new art direction at GDC, PAX East’s hands-on did a lot to allay our fears and prove to us that it might be a savvy move.

The first of the three main things we want to touch upon are the kill moves that we saw as a spectator last time. The kill moves will feature quite prominently throughout the action sequences of The Darkness II if this hands-on is anything to go by and can be used when a foe is unaware of your presence or if they’re stunned. Our first experience with them saw us stood behind an armed assailant, completely oblivious to the tentacle-powered Jackie Estacado who’s stood right behind him. Digital Extremes use glowing hotspots on the intended target to indicate which kill move will be performed. So if you’re looking at his legs, the glowing hotspot will appear on his legs and by hitting the grab button (the left bumper), Jackie will perform a Wishbone execution, splitting him in two. Target his abdomen and he’ll do an Anaconda move where the Demon Arm wraps around him and the head pops out his chest, Aliens style. Lastly, but not least, is if you aim for his head, the Demon Arm rips his throat out. Brutal stuff. While these are very cool ways to take down foes, we’re hoping that there’s plenty of variety in the final game, as with only three, and us seemingly doing the Anaconda kill move every time, it could get old fast.

In fact, Digital Extremes use the whole glowing aspect for what worldly items you can pick up as well, so it’s handy to see what can be used as a weapon – a parking meter for instance – and what can be used as a shield – a car door, like they used at GDC.

The second aspect we briefly wanted to touch upon was the game’s other Demon Arm function – the slash motion, activated by using the right bumper in conjunction with the right thumbstick. Essentially what that means is, that if you press the slash button and sweep the stick from left to right, the Demon Arm will mimic that action. Do it diagonally from top left to bottom right and yes, you guessed, it, it’ll mimic that as well. Having that much control over the Demon Arm is a nice touch, although the range on it isn’t really that impressive, but the problem with slashing your way through The Darkness II is it doesn’t really reward the player with that many points.

Yes! The points system! The one I opened the preview with! That is of course our third talking point. Like Bulletstorm, but nowhere near to the extent it was introduced there, The Darkness II rewards players with points depending on how they kill their foes. Admittedly, it’s doesn’t have Bulletstorm’s range of choices, but it does truly push you to get the more glamorous and frankly more unique kills. If I recall correctly, a normal Demon Arm slash kill is worthy a paltry 5 points, but if you pick up a sort of disc-wheel of sorts and chop a foe in two, then you’ll get 20 points and a “Sliced” pop-up will appear on-screen. Similarly, spear someone with a parking meter and you’ll get an “Impaled” bonus and 20 points. Granted, the whole system is obviously very derivative, but it’s nevertheless a very cool addition and does promote the game’s most rewarding mechanics and most certainly rewards creativity.

It’s quite apparent that Digital Extreme’s goal to stir more action into The Darkness II’s pot – more than ever was in the original – has easily been achieved. The Bulletstorm-esque points system is a welcome addition, but it remains a bit of a mystery at the moment and until it’s fully unveiled, we won’t know the extent of how much that will impact the gameplay – we’re assuming there’ll be some kind of unlock system, where players can unlock cool stuff or buy even cooler stuff with the points earned. If Digital Extremes can inject some variety into the combat with more unique ways to kill foes and more unique kill moves though, then the gameplay is easily headed in the right direction. Dissecting someone in two or spearing them into a wall with powerful Demon Arms has never been so satisfying.

Also, some images.
Game has not received PEGI age rating yet,
though viewer discretion advised, and all that jazz.
Contains some gore.

Last edited by Sagittarius on Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:17 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Update.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11]   The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11] EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 7:08 am

Looks cool! Damn, there is so many awesome games coming out this year. I'm gonna go bankrupt.
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PostSubject: Re: The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11]   The Darkness II [Update: 20/03/11] EmptySun Jun 19, 2011 5:06 am

Whoopsies. Forgot to put this in this thread, too.