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Are Things Looking Bright for The Darkness II?

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Launching in a little over a week, 2K Interactive’s crime/horror shooter The Darkness II manages to get in quick as the first major game of 2012 – beating out Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3 which both launch in March. But is this a strategy which will work to its benefit? Or has the game been rushed to launch in order to avoid the competition of the better known sequels to come?

I mean, I’m not saying The Darkness wasn’t a recognisable title – personally it seemed to turn up every time I reached into a discount bin at Electronics Boutique (did you know they have a sale on at the moment?!). But it never really hit the numbers of Max Payne, certainly not of Mass Effect. The original game was one of the first batch of titles for the brand new Xbox360 (way back in 2007), and while it’s gangster-meets-demons charm had certain memorable moments; for me it wasn’t particularly memorable.

But maybe that’s just my taste. It’s metascore was 82, surprisingly high for an Xbox shooter without the words “Halo” or “Call of Duty” in the title, and while we may have had an overdose of the gangland setting in the various Grand Theft Auto games – the fact that someone put a successful fresh spin on it was admirable.

As most people would know, the original game put you in the shoes of a mafia gunman-come-possessed-demon warrior who prowled the streets of New York City dispatching mobsters with his new found supernatural powers. The supernatural powers in question involved tiny imp-like monsters who would tear at your foes, dark tentacles for stabbing and impaling and even creating an oldschool black hole to consume mostly everything in its path. Later levels also included “darkness guns” which were fairly deadly presuming you weren’t standing in enough light to gimp yourself.

So with that in mind, what do we have to look forward to in the sequel?

Well the mob setting is back with a vengeance, with the lead character having scored himself the position of Don of his little familia. Add to that an increased focus on “quad-wielding” (that’s two guns, two tentacles at all times) and a hefty dose of slow-motion assassinations and were well under way. On top of that, the imp-like creatures from the first game have been condensed into one side-kick sized companion, whose greater involvement in the story seems almost Faustian to us literary types. Also it’s pretty cool.

To be honest, on paper The Darkness II sounds like a fairly decent sequel. While the first game never sold more than 1 million copies (which these days is a surprisingly medium-small number of copies) it had more flavour than your run of the mill shooter and personally won points from me on trying something different (you heard me every other shooter out there). And with the gaming public hungry for new titles, this will probably be the moderate spenders keep-over until Mass Effect and Max Payne come out.

After that… yeah I’m not that confident on their sales. But they have a month right? Right?!

Anyway here is the launch trailer so judge for yourself. If watching with friends, keep your tentacles to yourself for the duration.

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