Oh, Darkness.  Every time I hear your name I think of Charlie Murphy.  Sometimes I think of the comics, of which I have the whole collection, but usually it’s Charlie Murphy.  And sometimes I say Dorkness instead.  What’s wrong with me, and what does this have to do with The Darkness II?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

You see, The Darkness II from Digital Extremes and 2K Games is a very confusing experience.  From the moment I loaded it up and saw the title screen, I thought “This is neat.”  Then the intro movie played, which was also kinda neat except for the terrible sound quality that made my TV reverberate so hard I thought it was going to explode.  After that, however, it was back to good feelings.  I enjoyed a casual meal at a fine dining establishment, hooked up with two large-breasted ladies and then leisurely crawled out of a burning building while nursing my now-exploded leg.  It was gross.

Say hello to my little friend!

Then Charlie Murphy– err, The Darkness showed up.  And even though I had just left a restaurant, I apparently still had enough room to eat some faces and swallow some hearts.  Delicious.

The Darkness II picks up from about two years after the end of the last game.  Lead character and Darkness host Jackie Estacado apparently worked hard in those two years to suppress the monster within him, instead living a life of peace and quiet as the head of a mob family.  All that changes at the very beginning of the game, so it only takes 10 minutes before you are suspending bad dudes in the air by their legs and splitting them in half wishbone style.  It’s gleefully disgusting.

Tastes like chicken!

The narrative is on par with the first game; possibly even a little better.  Jackie just unleashed his powers again and is on a quest for revenge, all the while wondering if any of this is really even happening or if he has instead simply gone insane.  I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a good story.  There is also a separate co-op campaign called ‘Vendettas’ that runs concurrently with the main narrative, in which you and three of your online buddies can hack people up together.  There are four different characters here that have a few different Darkness powers each, but none of them are nearly the ass-kicker that Jackie is.

The visuals now have a comic-book feel to them, less gritty and realistic than the first game, though not quite as cel-shaded as Borderlands either.  It works well and performs admirably amongst all of the shooting and decapitations — no slowdown here.  People also seem to fall apart in a good number of body parts depending on how you dispatch them.  One example is the dude whose leg I blew off with a shotgun.  He fell to the ground and writhed around in pain, staring in disbelief at the stump where his leg used to be, and then, after 30 seconds or so, he decided to just die already.  It was gross.

This guy was kind enough to bleed out.

Killing dudes nets you ‘essence’ that can be spent to upgrade Jackie’s abilities.  The first move you unlock allows you to eat the hearts of enemies you’ve slain, which at this point is the only way to refill your health (and earns you some bonus essence as well).  After that, you are given options what to spend your points on.  One ability refills your ammo when you execute a guy, which sometimes involves shoving one of your Darkness snake-oids up a dude’s pooper.  Another ability allows you to slam people into the ground and make them explode.  You can even infuse your guns with Darkness power, shoot through walls and, of course, turn the bad guys into little chunks of meat in the process.  All of these moves are gross.

The game controls well with the left and right triggers and bumpers corresponding to your left and right people arms and snake-oids.  Hit the right bumper to slash a dude with your snake-oid, then hit the left bumper to grab him, then hit it again to throw him into the air, and finally pull both triggers to shoot him with your dual-wielding submachine guns.  Or you can just execute him.  Or you can throw a car door at him and split him in half.  Or you can let your little darkling follower beat him to death and then fart in his deceased face.  Gross.

Don't take him home to meet Mom.

But The Darkness II is also a bitch.  Imagine, if you will, that you have just hooked up with a super hot [insert the gender you are attracted to here] and start going at it.  So you are super excited to be having such an enjoyable experience with such an attractive person… and then it’s over.  That is what The Darkness II feels like.  It was great, but it was over too soon.  I love a short game every once in a while, but when the experience is this enjoyable, I don’t want it to be a quickie.

Also, while I’m griping, the game is significantly more linear this time compared to the original.  This was also kind of a bummer, and it probably contributed to the whole ‘too short’ issue.  With a ‘New Game+’ option and the co-op campaign, however, I’ll probably play through it a few more times.  Other than those two things, The Darkness II is a really fun time.  And gross.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Looks great
+ Awesome narrative
+ Makes you feel like a badass
+ Pretty good voice acting
+ That one time when I threw a steel pipe and impaled two guys into a wall
+ Gross
– Give me MORE 
– Not as open as the previous game
– Maybe a little too gross sometimes

9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of the genre, a game that defines what that genre should be about. These scores are for games that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.

The Darkness II was developed by Digital Extremes and published by 2K Games.  It was released on February 7, 2012, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.  A copy of the game was provided to RipTen by the publisher for the purposes of review.