While the rest of the world was getting itself into a tizzy over the sociopath-making hack/slasher that is Manhunt 2
over the last week or so, SPOnG was busy crying ?Ban this sick filth!? in an entirely different direction. Namely, another title that falls under the Take 2 umbrella: The Darkness
For those of you who aren't aware, The Darkness
spins out of the comic of the same name that originally spawned from the minds of Marc Silvestri (of X-Men
fame) and Garth Ennis (of being-mildly-disturbed and writing Preacher
fame). It follows the life and loves of Jackie Estacado who, on the advent of his 21st birthday, finds himself with the dubious honour of possessing the Darkness, a sinister supernatural entity that pre-dates human history. Yeah, that's right. On your 21st you were/will be drinking bizarre cocktails invented by your mates involving vodka, beer and mud, and this guy's dealing with evil from the dawn of time. Since he just happens to be a hitman for the Mafia, much bloodshed ensues.
For the game, much of the fantasy that decorates the comics has been ditched in favour of a gritty, more horror-based feel. Jackie's not the pretty-boy he was in the comics, he hangs about in seedy back alleys and subways rather than glamorous night clubs, and he looks a bit Goth instead of a bit Gucci. You won't see fancy armour or drop-dead-gorgeous angels in his game?s outing. Instead, expect a long leather coat and ugly mobsters.
Throughout the entire game the feel of The Darkness
is, well... dark. It abounds with grimy, seedy locales crawling with creepy types wanting to put a bullet.
successfully manages to place a good chunk of the action in darkened alleys without ever getting boring. When playing F.E.A.R.
, one of my biggest complaints was that in the quest for a spooky atmosphere, Monolith had made the game drab and a bit boring.
developer, Starbreeze, does not fall into the same trap. There's nary a spot of daylight to be had in the game; the city maps drag you into the quagmire to be found at the bottom of society.
Jackie's girlfriend invites you into her apartment, excited because she's so excited about it, and (at the risk of sounding like a big old snob) my skin crawled slightly at the place. A large portion of the game takes place in subways, warehouses, a burnt-out orphanage... the list goes on. But rather than the real world portions of the game becoming dismal and tedious, they instead ooze insipid life.
The lighting, for one, is extremely well done. Just the right amount of eerie illumination is cast across the gloom to keep it looking interesting, and in a game where playing in the dark gives you an advantage, that's crucial. Likewise, the shadows move brilliantly, a touch that subtly adds to the atmosphere.