Monday, July 23, 2007

The Darkness (XBOX 360)


- Finished it in at least 15 hrs (if not quite a bit more). I played it pretty slowly doing all the side quests and finding a good chunk of the hidden stuff.
- I've finished Riddick on the original xbox and loved it (one of the best games on that console).
- Graphically I thought it was pretty darn impressive: the lighting, texture detail, lots of little world details, character animation (subway dancers were a nice touch), very atmospheric. Framerate is fine.
- The gunplay is pretty good. The default pistols work pretty darn well for most of the game. You do get better weapons later but it doesn't matter much. Close up execution kills are a blast. But all this kind of takes a back seat to the darkness powers which though fun and visually impressive are a bit overpowered. The way it's designed it's just too easy to hide behind a corner and use darkness powers to resolve most confrontations (send darklings, use the crawly snake thing, black hole, etc). This makes the game quite easy. I guess you don't have to play it this way. One of the favorite earlier strategies is send in a berserker to distract the guys while I go up close with dual pistols for the execution kills.
- Walking is speed is slow....really really slow. There is no running. I guess having big snake tentacle things shooting out of your body slows you down.
- The music is pretty great and fits the game really well.
- Good voice acting.
- haven't tried the multiplayer. From what I've heard it's kind of throw away anyways.
- Great story with some nice twists.
- Ending is a bit weak. There is this big build up to this final battle and the game takes over for you. You get to "watch" several great looking set piece battles that you have no control over. It was a really odd design decision.
-One strange thing is like Riddick this game makes me a bit motion sick. After about 5 hrs straight I started feeling a bit ill. This happened to me with riddick in the middle stealth parts which made me take a few months break before I came back and finished it. I'm not sure what it is about Starbreeze engines that do this to me since I can play other fps's (doom 3, hl2, etc, all night CSS lan parties, fear,halo's) for twice as long without issue.
Maybe it's all the harsh contrast between light and dark areas. It can't be movement speed b/c you move pretty darn slow in the Darkness.
I found my limit to be around 2hrs a day.
- Pacing is really good.
- Darkling AI kind of sucks. They rarely go where I want them to no matter how many times I hit "X". Oh the enemy AI isn't too much better.
- Checkpoint save system works fine. There are plenty of them and I never found my self frustrated or replaying large parts of the game. To be honest toward the last 25% of the game you just won't be dying very often. One thing I notice is calling phone numbers that you have collected triggers the save icon after you unlock content. But you must change areas to really "save" your game and clear those items out of inventory.

*** POTENTIAL MINOR SPOILERS ***

- I really enjoyed the whole Jenny apartment scene. I went back through it to try all the dialog options but they all kind of lead to the same conclusion. I guess your choice probably has no real impact on the game or story line. Anyways, the first time through I sat down with her and didn't get up. That first person kiss was pretty freaky! (not sure if any other game has done this before). I got my achievement but then I was stuck. No matter where I looked around I couldn't trigger the "A" to get up message. There she was sleeping with her head on my lap and me stuck watching To Kill a Mocking Bird. I got up and left to do something, came back several minutes later and I was still stuck. Talk about ultra realism! Except in real life you can't just restart from last check point.
- I really liked the hell levels. They were visually very interesting to look and gave a nice change from the NY levels.

*** END SPOILERS ***

Overall I really enjoyed this game. It's well worth picking up and playing through. Riddick is hands down the better game with just a much better mix of environments, gunplay, melee, adventure elements, vehicles, stealth mechanics (though I thought the middle stealth portions of the game dragged a bit), and a fantastic ending. Having said that The Darkness is still very much worth playing.

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