Monday, November 5, 2007

The Darkness

Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: June 25, 2007
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: The opposite of The Lightness.

0:01 The intro. movie is a series of quick jump cuts. Guys on cross. A skinned bull. An angel on a cross. A soldier shooting a helpless prisoner. "Past. Present. Future" "I think I'm in hell." "This is the heart of the Darkness" "Mutilate."Destroy." "Avenge." "Watch the skies." "Come, embrace the Darkness." It's supposed to be creepy, but it comes off as Goth campy.

"I remember the night of my 21st birthday. That was the first time I died.." Intriguing.

0:03 Someone wakes me up. I'm in the back of a convertible. The mobsters in front are weaving through traffic and cursing up a storm. I'm with them, and it's my birthday, apparently. We don't have the money that the boss wants, and they're worried he's not gonna be happy. The writing is very natural, although peppered with too many curse words for my taste. I'm not a prude, but when every other word is "fuck" it gets on my nerves.

0:05 We're being chased. He tries to shake 'em. This guy is driving like a maniac. "Tell 'em they'll never take us alive. They hate that." Heh.

0:06 So I'm given a gun and have to help "shake these pigs." but I can't shoot it. I'm just holding it in my hands. Nino, the passenger in front, goes down with a giant "fuck meeeeeee." And I take his place, kicking him to the asphalt in the process.

0:07 So Now I can fire but I can't turn around all the way to fire at the cops tailing us. This is getting annoying. I can take out a guy crawling on our windshield like a sitting duck, though.

0:08 I take out a few more guys standing in our path, but it doesn't seem to matter much ... they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. It's ok, though, we reach a dead end and flip over. I guess this was the first time I dead.

0:10 The demo jumps to chapter 3, "The Graveyard." "Me and Paulie never did agree about the way things was bein' done," my character says in his best Brooklyn Italian accent. Apparently Paulie, the driver from before, betrayed me, tried to kill me, and now his men are after me. At the cut scene ends I've got two guns in my hands and guys firing at me from above. "Darkness will fall." says a creepy-ass voice after I dispatch the gunmen

0:11 The shootout in the cemetery begins. I like the animation on the enemies when they fall. Looks like their actually being hit by a hail of gunfire. Reminiscent of Goldeneye

0:12 Ouch. When I get close to a guy I raise my gun and shoot straight down into his head. What a way to go.

0:13 The screen goes red at the edges when I'm low on health and I go down. "Your life is mine" says the creepy ass voice. Or is it... I'm back at the entrance to the graveyard again.

0:15 Another super-gruesome kill ... this time I stick the gun barrel down an enemy's mouth. Ew.

0:16 "I am the master of death." Well then you're the master of me because I keep dying. I just noticed the graffiti on the hallway wall. "I'm the fucked one. They fucked me. I FUCKING graduated from high school." Way to use those vocabulary lessons.

0:17 I kick a guy in the balls from behind then take him out with a gunshot. That first part seems gratuitous.

0:18 The strategy so far seems to be knocking guys down with bullets, running up to them as they hobble up, then doing a close-up gruesome kill.

0:19 I made it through the graveyard and into a far hallway. Homeless Frank Rottenberg lives at the end, in the bathroom. "Smells like Satan's bunghole, but it beats freezing to death. "Ain't it the truth.

0:20 I take out Rottenberg after he gives me next to no information. Nice that the NPCs react realistically to a bullet in the head.

0:21 "Through you I will display my power. Through you I am born." Holy crap. I've grown tentacles with gnashing teeth and I'm automatically taking out everyone. Looks like fun... too bad I can't control it. "You are nothing but my puppet." Yeah, that's what I'm complaining about.

0:23 Oh, OK, now I can summon the tentacle powers at will with the R1 button. I still have my guns out even though these tentacles look like they can handle anything that comes my way. The "devour heart" option appears over my fallen foes. I can spawn a berserker, a devil-dog thing with a flannel shirt.

0:26 My berserker companion opens the graveyard gate and I'm on the street again. The little guy also helps me take out the shooters that are standing there for some reason.

0:30 The first "puzzle." I have to turn into a slithering snake and get through and air duct to take a key from a taunting guard. The puzzle is easy to figure out, but the awkward slithering controls make it unnecessarily frustrating.

0:31 Chapter 3 done, we warp to Chapter 7. I've gone to mess up Paulie's operation on Grinder's Lane. "The place always makes me want to kick a fucking dog - or something." And this is the guy you're supposed to empathize with - or something.

0:34 Some guys talking about how I escaped from the cemetery. They can't figure out who was helping me take out all those guys. They can't fathom it was me and my demon powers. Nice touch.

0:36 Did I mention that every other fucking word in this fucking game is a fucking curse word?

0:39 I sneak in as a slithering thing and kill the two chatting mobsters. Then I destroy a generator. Now what? I'm looking for switch to open the gate, but it's so dark it's impossible to find anything.

0:41 Oh my god. I can open the gate just by pushing on it. I could have sworn I tried that already. Obviously wasn't trying hard enough.

0:44 I go into an abandoned workshop, pick up some gasoline, and operate some band saws sitting around. Now what?

0:45 Apparently I'm supposed to wander into this meat freezer, which just happens to have a bunch of enemy mobsters waiting for me. Because why wouldn't mobsters hang out in a freezer? I die quickly in the ensuing shootout "We do not die." creepy ass voice tells me. Whoopee.

0:46 I've died five times now in the same shootout. Creepy-ass voice is having a field day: "Our blood flows in you." "You can not live." "Your life is mine."

0:48 Up to seven deaths now.

0:52 I'm beginning to make some headway. The key seems to be taking out a few guys quickly, then devouring their hearts to get the tentacles out. They act as a shield to help take out the other guys. A nice family-friendly game

0:53 I stumble across a TV that's randomly playing a real video of Flash Gordon. I change the channel and a Popeye cartoon come on. Heh. I shoot out the lights so I can see the screen better.

0:59 OK, I've been wandering around the hallways trying to find what to do next for the past five minutes. Time to call it quits.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? Despite some pacing and control problems, it's got some decent shooting, snappy writing, and is full of atmosphere. Definitely worth some more time.

This review based on a demo downloaded from the PlayStation Network.


Anonymous said...

Aren't demos free? Cannot everyone interested in this download and play the?

Isn't the point of a review playing something other people might have to pay money for, so they can decide whether or not it's worth paying for?

Kyle said...

True, but everyone includes me, and this is my personal take on the demo. If other people enjoy it, all the better, but these impressions are really just meant to clarify my thoughts on the first hour of play of a game for my personal use.

That said, not everyone has time to play every demo even, and might want to know which ones aren't even worth the download and trial time.

Funny Pixelton said...

This game got critically panned a bit due to all of the upcoming releases, but it still has some of the best "human" moments of any FPS I've played.

The couch scene was romantic and alluring while being so everyday.