The Darkness 2 is looking to make true believers out of people who enjoyed the original The Darkness, both of which are based on the graphic novel from Top Cow. The original game was innovative and well-received, but a sequel wasn't put into development right away. Developer Starbreeze Studios, who had created the original game, announced that they weren't developing the sequel back in 2008, but later, 2K Studios decided to hand the next installment to Digital Extremes.
You're still playing Jackie Estacado, former hitman to the mob and the current wielder of the Darkness power. This time, he's facing a group of enemies known as The Brotherhood, and they know how to fight the Darkness. (Here's a hint, it's with lights. Duh.) But even more insidious is Victor Valente, the "Crippled Man," who serves as the head of the Brotherhood, and who wants the Darkness power for himself. Which might not be a bad thing, considering Jackie's own strained relationship with the dark power. Plenty of times throughout the demo, Jackie got into actual fistfights with his dark tentacles, and tell them, "Hey, go f*ck yourself." I don't even know how the Darkness would interpret that.
The game is set two years after the events in the first game, and the team has spent a considerable amount of time honing the way Jackie's powers work with his ability to wield handguns. To that end, one of the biggest tweaks to the game is the upgraded ability to "quad-wield," which is when Jackie is dual-wielding guns, and using his Darkness powers at the same time. You can tentacle attack, shoot both guns, and use abilities all at the same time. While you could dual-wield and tentacle attack in The Darkness, using these updated powers at the same time is new. And awesome.
Jackie can use the "Gun Channeling" ability to channel the Darkess through his guns as well, amping up his ammo and damage considerably, and he can use other powers like "Heart of Darkness" to see and shoot enemies through walls, which is very useful when you need to kill several bad guys behind cover. Also new is a progression system that allows the player to work through a skill tree to add new abilities and strengthen existing ones.
While the game plays somewhat similarly to the original game, the look is entirely different. Using a cel-shaded style of artwork that Digital Extremes is dubbing "graphic noir," the game has been given a complete makeover that acknowledges the graphic novel roots of the game, while bringing out the over the top violence and cartoonish action. "We really wanted to make you feel like you're playing a comic book" said the devs. Our demo took place in an empty carnival, which had bright, garish colors, and plenty of atmospheric items to show off the art style.
You'll be able to pull off several finishing moves like "Spinal Tap' where the Darkness tears someone's spine out through their mouth or "Wish Bone" where your tentacles literally split someone in two. You'd expect no less from a power based on the dark. Speaking of the Darkness, you have to avoid well-lit areas and knock out lights whenver you can, because when you're in the light your powers won't work, and you're extremely vulnerable. So it's much to your advantage to stick to the dark and bust bulbs whenver you can.
The Darkling is back this time as well, and he'll often lead you in the right direction, or in the case of our demo, he'll help open the path to a new area by driving a fuel-laden truck through a gate. That results in a massive explosion, and a new path. Throughout the entire demo, Jackie's hate/hate relationship with the Darkness continues as he fights goons off left and right, although Jackie gets overwhelmed near the of the demo, and we initially thought he was killed and that the game was about to drop him back in at a checkpoint.
But then, the scene shifts. Jackie is in a psychiatric hospital of some sort and a doctor says, "Don't worry Jackie, we're going to help you." So, is this all happening in his head? Or is it part of the Brotherhood trying to pull the Darkness out of him? We'll see when the game launches on October 4, 2011. Based on what I've seen so far, I'm definitely planning on checking out more of this game.