Friday, 15 February 2013

15 second review: The Darkness (XBOX360)

It took me a while to get into this. I really do not enjoy games that leave me floundering without much sense of what to do and where to go. My training as an 8-bit, 2D, Linear player lets me down in that respect. Although flawed and ultimately disappointing, F.E.A.R. 2 (for example) has a natty mechanism for gamers like me - ghosts appear fleetingly in the approximate direction one should be moving. It is a great gimmick, and helps to build the game's atmosphere. My frustration with The Darkness stems from allowing too much scope to wander around its (fairly limited) topography. Coupled with its annoying cut-away sequences that intersect every time the player moves out of a train station (which is frequently), The Darkness quickly began to annoy me. My problems were exacerbated by a bug early on: one of the cues I needed (a phone call) did not occur.
Once I got into the swing of the makers' mindset, the game became much more fun. I then started to notice how atmospheric the graphics are, especially in the war-time segments. The real strength of the game, however, does not lie with its aesthetics, its (sometimes tedious) first person shooting action, or even the quirky voice artistry of Mike Patton (who plays the eponymous Darkness). The game's real draw is character motivation. In fact, the ending is really what entirely changed my mind about the game - it is well worth playing the narrative out until its final moments.

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