Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Darkness (2007) Xbox 360

Surrounded by idiots
Rating: 3 out of 5 Darklings That Are Fucking Useless

Plot Synopsis: Jackie Estacado goes on a mission for the mob on his 21st birthday. It also happens to be the day he inherits his family legacy and becomes host to an incredibly powerful shadow creature.

The Good:

-Strong start, you wake up in the back of a car right before a huge car chase that becomes a rolling gun fight.

-Nice, dark, unsettling atmosphere. The high contrast casts a lot of shadows and the visuals can be just off enough to put you on edge.

-Controls are fluent. Jackie does what you tell him when you tell him to.

-I like the interstitials by Jackie in the dark void. Just him facing the camera talking to Jenny, his girlfriend. He’s looking at you but is addressing Jenny. He just sits or stands in a spotlight surrounded by darkness. It’s a very intriguing visual.

-Up close executions are cool, if you can actually get close enough, they are brutal and violent.

-Your relationship with Jenny is realistic & nice. When she gets executed it makes it fucking brutal and made all the more emotional by the total loss of control during the scene. At one point you’re given the chance to tell her you love her & Jackie chickens out if you choose the “tell her” option.

-The "other place", maybe it's hell, maybe it’s The Darkness itself but it's very interesting alternate reality WW1. It reminded me of Shadowman a lot. A lot of viscera, blood, rust and disturbing imagery. Everyone has hideous scars across their faces and the bad guys are undead Germans. Dispersed through this hellscape are physical manifestations of the Four Horsemen and each Horsemen is represented by an appropriately disturbing avatars.

-The visions the Darkness gives you when you reload are great. Creepy re-envisioning’s of things you've recently seen while it confirms your immortality. The image I found most disturbing is a large freighter ship in the middle of the ocean surrounded by a blood red sky, rough waters and many, many upright whale tails. I don’t know why it’s so disturbing to me but I rank it as one of the most disturbing images I’ve ever seen.

-You can watch a full episode of Flash Gordon if that's your thing. So there's that.

-The plot is really good with solid acting & characterization. It’s a bit slow and a bit cliché’ but it drove me past all the side quests in my desire to get to the end.

-The Darkness itself is probably the most interesting & well-acted character played by Mike Patton of Faith No More fame.

-There's a really heavy light contrast that puts things either totally in light or totally in shadow. The plus is that it provides interesting visuals but the minus is that it can make things really hard to see.

-The climax is pretty great. It happens during an eclipse so you start out totally powerless and by the time you get near the end you are totally empowered. This is interspersed with segments where you either lose control of the Darkness as it slaughters people or black out. It gives a very dreamlike horror atmosphere.

The Bad:

-I don't like picking up guns. It's more realistic but they give you these bad ass looking pair of .45's & you use them up very quickly and you’re left with just random guns. The worst is when they're unbalanced (a 9 shot gun in your left & a 6 shot gun in your right). You have no option but to duel wield pistols and you just grab random guns so you are constantly just cycling through unbalanced pairs of guns. It would have been nice if there was just a way to bring up a pair of matching guns, no matter what those guns were or how powerful they are.

-Dudes take a lot of bullets to put down. They can take up to 3 bullets to the head, 3-6 to the torso. So they just eat bullets and nothing shoots all that fast so they also just linger. Fire fights take forever.

-Jackie dials a phone like a tard.

-You spend most of your time shooting out lights. Seriously, the alternate title for this game could be called "Light Fucker: Destroyer of Bulbs".

-All the unlockable content is done through phone numbers. Some of them are funny, some of them are creepy but most of them are stupid. The bottom line is you spend a lot of time on the phone. There’s one guy, The Keeper of Secrets, you need to find something like 15 hidden numbers to get anything from this mother fucker and when you do he half tells you some bullshit about Elvis being an alien before being shot as he finishes revealing the big secret. Total bullshit.

-Bodies, for the most part, are persistent. You kill a guy, there he is even if you go several other places. Lights, on the other hand, respawn constantly. The one thing you would need to be persistent, so you can set up a tactical advantage, isn't. It just makes me imagine that every time you leave an area a crew of people in overalls carrying ladders come in and rapidly replace every light bulb like a pit crew in a car race.

-The Darklings suck. They are terrible at performing their tasks, they can't pathfind for shit and the AI is terrible. They are next to useless. I never got a use out of any of them other than having them provide a brief distraction as they sat there and got shot. The Light Killer doesn’t kill lights, the kamikaze blows up before he’s close enough to do damage (I had a few blow up in my face). The Berserker doesn’t pathfind so he gets caught on something before he’s in melee range. I would summon Shooters and watch as they shot into a wall or an obstacle at someone on the other side but even if I commanded them to go to a better place they would just stand there and unload impotently into barriers.

-You don't feel very empowered. The Darkness does kick ass but the powers are very separated from each other, the guns are kind of weak so I ended up relying on my Darkness Guns (for the infinite ammo) which precluded me from using other powers & you spend most of the fights breaking lights & hiding when it gets too rough. I just didn't find much use for what I had other than the Darkness Guns.

-The sidequests are total shit which is fine because the main story is compelling enough to keep you engaged in that and you don’t end up missing anything. But the ones I did indulge in had me getting a hobo his harmonica back and breaking up a parking lot party because their stereo was loud.

The Ugly:

-They go for a pretty realistic art style but the world feels disproportionate. Everything just feels slightly "too big" to be real.

Final Thoughts: This is a pretty decent game. I came into it not knowing anything about Top Cow’s The Darkness comic and not really caring about the franchise and I finished much more interested. I don’t know if I would pick up the comic but I’m curious. I would pick up another game, and I did, and I would watch a movie or a television show but maybe at some point I’ll pick up the source material. I’m tempted to pick up a comic, if they are anything like this game or the sequel it could a pretty good read.

  The problem is just that it isn’t executed well. It was made early in the last gen (Xbox 360/PS3) cycle and it shows, it just lacks a certain polish and that’s probably due to the newness of the console. There really isn’t much to say when something is this mediocre. Do you need to play it to understand the sequel, which is much better? No, not really. You probably should just so you can experience Jackie’s relationship with Jenny. That relationship is really the only thing that you could argue makes the game worthwhile for everyone to pick up. It’s really something that should be taught in Game Making 101. But that one things is buried under some pretty mediocre gameplay. There were many times that I got killed just due to the fact that I couldn’t find the light source that was draining my powers or the path wasn’t clear and I ended up the victim of some unknown timer or falling to my death. As comic games go this is one of the better ones, probably one of the best, but as just “a game” it’s stunningly poor. I wouldn’t even rank this very high if I narrowed the field into first person shooter because the shooting on this isn’t that great. But its story is compelling and the cutscenes are interesting. It’s hard to say. If you were to play it you wouldn’t be wasting your time and I got mine at Gamestop for $4.99. At that price it’s worth it but I don’t know if I would recommend going out of your way to play it.

No comments:

Post a Comment