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The Darkness (Xbox 360) artwork

The Darkness (Xbox 360) review


"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~ Chinese proverb "



Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~ Chinese proverb

Meet Jackie Estacado. He's an Italian mobster who at first glance might remind you of that emo kid you knew in High School. It's his 21st birthday, and he's rocketing down a highway with two friends in a convertible and half a legion of cops chasing them. They're not out for a simple joyride, nope, they just ripped off a ton of cash and are picking off cops left and right. Their goal? Reach the construction yard where their nice, friendly boss is. However, Jackie's friends don't get the best out of the deal. One of his buddies winds up decapitated as they pass a wall. (That's why mommy doesn't want you to stick your head out the window), and his other pal winds up wounded on a crate with half of his leg sticking out of himself.

Jackie soon learns that his boss has turned on him, and has the entire police force on his side. Jackie quickly pulls out his dual wielding pistols of death on the baddies, showing off his dual wielding skills and revealing what is a very solid shooter. Jackie can pump the enemies full of bullets, or, he can get close and execute the poor suckers Godfather style. Once he's done fighting the one man army fight through an entire construction yard, he manages to escape into a bathroom in a cemetery. The mobsters corner him, but that's not the worst of his problems. A presence inside him, a sinister voice named the Darkness is slowly wrapping its snakelike tentacles around Jackie's free will. The mobsters make the mistake of shooting out the lights, and the Darkness sets itself free.

The Darkness comes in the shape of a pair of snake tentacles which Jackie can use to do a variety of things, all of which are exhilarating the first time you use them, and almost just as good after the nth time. Jackie can send out these snakes to do his bidding, ripping off the faces of his enemies and climbing on walls and ceilings. He can gore people on a black arm of death and play with their bodies like a Jedi. He can summon a black hole to suck his enemies into. These options are always a blast to use, and useful as well. Sometimes, you'll need to use them to get through a puzzle of some sort, and in that case, it can sometimes get tedious to figure out which power to use and how best to use it. However, these situations do help you become comfortable with your powers, and you'll soon be applying them to the fiercest of firefights, because trust me, you'll need the advantage.

Other than Darkness, you'll get some other things to help you out. The weapons may be generic and somewhat boring and useless, but there are some places in the game where you can actually summon allies. That's right, at certain spawn points, you'll be able to bring Darklings out from the depths of the Earth, which will immediately assume the duty you task them. They can destroy lights, rip out the throats of your enemies, operate a chain gun, and of course, kamikaze themselves into a wall. All of these darkness powers can become even more powerful as an RPG aspect presents itself in The Darkness, as you can level up your darkness "rating". How would you do that? By devouring the hearts of your dead enemies of course! Cannibalism has never been better.

This game is hard, not only because the fighting sequences themselves are hard but because you are given such little direction. It basically just lands you in a limited free roam environment in Manhattan, and expects you to do everything. You'll have to read street signs, tourist maps, and even *gasp* ask directions from the lady at information. Think modern day Morrowind on LSD. This open world is interjected by somewhat linear moments which actually seam together quite nicely. There are still a couple of gripes with this setting however. There are way too many very short side quests to keep track of, many of which offer nothing for you except a short reward.

However, at least the game looks very good. That's right, everything in the game, especially the streets and some of the darker regions of the game, look fantastic. The subway stations especially look photo-realistic. On top of that, the areas aren't just repeating textures. In fact, it seems like sixth graders with Tourette's syndrome have been scribbling on the walls, because all I can find is random swear words and Chuck Norris jokes. Either way, the graffiti is one of the many things that seem to draw you into the environment in The Darkness. The only low point of the graphics is the character models. While they look good, the way they speak almost seems like their lips aren't even moving, but their mouths are shut. It's like some sort of twisted ventriloquism with no puppet.

It's too bad that multiplayer doesn't follow the rest of the game, because it would of made it a legend. The multiplayer is very tacked on, it's the classic run & gun fast paced gameplay which seems to have fewer options than Doom. Multiplayer could've been great, if you could use Darkness powers, maybe as pickups, but right now it seems mediocre at best, and you'll suffer through them if single player has treated you well at all.

Final Score: The Darkness is an amazing game that barely missed being grouped with Halo and Goldeneye and other shooters as some of the best ever made, but instead virtually ignored multi-player, and needed just a wee bit more polish on single player.

Graphics - 9 - "You can't kill Chuck"
Sound - 10 - Wicked cool voice actors
Multiplayer - 5 - Tacked On
Gameplay - 10 - Dark, scary, and awesome

Rating: 9/10

Squanty's avatar
Community review by Squanty (July 02, 2007)

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