All the hate I see surrounding this game seems to be exclusively concentrated on it's length. I have to say, it was quite short. It was also good enough to drive me to play through the whole thing again right after. The story, while only having a few predictable moments, did still manage to surprise the hell out of me at times. It was very interesting how it stylistically (gameplay wise) started out like Starbreeze's interpretation of The Darkness IP and transformed into something else. For those of you who wanted an accurate representation of the comic's tone in the first game and missed it, this is for you. It's also relieving to see a good old fashioned gib-fest shooter in the midst of all these "shoot em and watch em flop over" farces. An uzi in this game could blow a limb off. It's unrealistic and I love it.
There are the glaring issue of linearity. It is quite inexcusable, even for a narrative driven title like this. If it weren't for the Darkness powers, this would have killed the game for me. The powers give the player an unparalleled control over the battlefield, though it's still possible to be overpowered *on the hardest difficulty*. On any setting lower than "Don" the game is piss easy. Wasn't an issue for me, however, as I played exclusively on Don. I recommend everyone else do the same unless they're really new to shooters. But... yeah. The powers. They're good. It takes a bit of "exercising" to get used to manage four limbs at once instead of the usual one in a shooter, but when you do it's really satisfying. Most of the powers from the first game are back, including the creeping dark (where you control a darkling instead of one of your snakes). What annoys me about the creeping dark is that it's completely scripted and you can't actually choose to use it. I can't really complain that much, as the more linear format of the campaign would render the creeping dark useless. The vortex is back, though it works completely differently. In The Darkness, you could point at a spot, and shoot a vortex over to it. In The Darkness II, it spawns in a random corpse on the map in the place of their heart. You eat it like you would a heart, and you throw it like you would in the first game. I'm still not sure how I feel about this. The darkness guns are gone, I never used them in the first game so meh. I guess the gun channeling ability replaces them anyway. You can no longer spawn purpose built darklings, but one singular darkling does follow you around. This guy becomes a pretty major character too. The tentacle from the first game has been split in functionality. As you probably already know, you control two arms. One grabs, one slashes. In the first game you had to do both with one, and it didn't control very well.
Subjectively, I felt the story was incredible as far as shooters go. They certainly carried the Starbreeze baton with this. In the last two years I'd chalk it up with the best out there in a single player game; up there with Batman Arkham City and Portal 2. The actual narrative was pretty straight forward, but there were enough twists and turns without it all getting convoluted. Couple this with excellent voice acting, and we got a winner in my book. Now, the voice of The Darkness (Mike Patton) did a great job as usual, but his performance was 85% screaming. This is understandable, as he had a lot more at stake than in the last game, but I did prefer the low rumbling tone he had in the first game. The screaming does get a bit irritating and naggy, but I suppose that could be intentional given the nature of who/what it's coming from. The voice of Jackie Estacado is different. He's not Kirk Acevedo, but then again, this is a different Jackie. He's had more time to himself, and two years ghoul-free. He's less monotone and PTS-ish, and a lot more "passionate". That being said, when he needs to be angry, he can sell it. There's a lot of other returning characters like Butcher Joyce, Aunt Sarah, and Jimmy the Grape, but I don't believe the original actors reprised their roles.
Graphically, the game chose to look like the comics rather than a film based on the comics. I don't really have a preference either way. I can say that this game running @ 60fps at a full 1080p the game is pretty damn gorgeous. This is one of those games that just doesn't look good in stills. It's gotta be moving to be appreciated. One thing that surprised me is how smooth the visual continuity is from the first game to the second, even with this sudden change in style. All the returning characters are instantly recognizable, and despite the change in color palette (in that there actually is one) the game retains the tone of the first one quite nicely.... in it's beginning. As the game goes on, it steadily deviates from Starbreeze's The Darkness and transforms into Top Cow's The Darkness (eventually hitting 100% Top Cow towards the very end). The greatest thing is how smooth this transition is. You don't notice the game getting more and more comic bookish on you till you think about it in retrospect.
Audibly, it's alright. The voice acting is top tier. The foley is pretty good too. All audio related to The Darkness itself is awesome. The problem is the weapon noises. You'd think gun sounds would get a little more love in a shooter, but nope. They have the bass and treble, but they just don't sound like tubes hurling metal at hundreds of miles per hour. They don't sound like sound barrier breakers. There's no "pop", only "pfft". The sample rate of each gun sound seems to be different too. Lots of the SMGs sound pretty good, but the pistols sound like they could be playing at 22khz or less.... to put it less technically, some gun sounds sound like they came from 2011-12, and others sound like they came from 1998. It's not good. I wish I could replace them. The music is quite awesome though. Jane's Addiction and plenty of other great stuff from the 90s and before is included in the licensed music. The score itself is serviceable. I wish a few melodies from the first game would have made a return. Especially "Jenny's Theme". It was almost the first game's theme song. It's strange it didn't return. Overall, the score could have used a bit more demonic sounding choir too. Ah well.
I haven't really touched vendetta mode, as none of my friends have acquired the game yet. I do look forward to it. It doesn't look as bad as it could be.
In terms of the "portyness" of it, it's pretty OK. Alright I'd say. The KB/mouse controls were serviceable, but I still played through it with a 360 controller to get the full effect of the game. The mouse *is* a bit jittery, but that could just be me. The field of view is horrid, as many of you way know. If you're sitting at a reasonable computer monitor distance (2 feet), watch out. You may be driven to puke. I had to sit back in order to not feel sick from this game which is part of the reason I used a controller. Other than those glaring console port issues, there were no issues. The game ran like a dream. Seriously, it may be the best handling modern port out there for the PC as far as I know. Silky smooth framerate, and not a crash in sight. If only they could get the FOV sorted.
Overall, I foresee this game being underrated and passed over by the masses just as the first one was. There's gonna be a lot of "IT WAS TOO SHORT AND LINEAR THIS GAME SIUCKSK". As long as the writing and acting stays this on point I'll never leave this franchise's side. The first game made me a huge fan of the property. This game didn't deter me at all. I do wish it coulda been longer and a bit more free, and I had to knock off a star for that, but I am fine with what I got. Everything else more than made up for it. I'm hoping for some substantial DLC in the future to rectify the issues of the vanilla game. I'd happily give The Darkness more money. I wish it the best. I want dat movie.