As stated before, staying in dark areas maintains your darkness level, but there is another way to keep your energy up and also add to your darkness powers overall, and that's eating the
hearts of your victims. Once slayed, the hearts of enemies can be taken by simply standing over them and pressing "A", or by using the 'creeping
dark' power on them [img]thedarkness_xb360_3[/img]from a distance. This is a pretty gruesome and cool feature at the start of the game, but it does start to wear a little thin as you get
the game becoming somewhat of a burden, but then again the game does refer to 'the darkness' possession as a burden on occasions so I guess it
has got to have its drawbacks somewhere.
Finally, 'the darkness' also has one last major plus side, and that is the ability to spawn what the game refers to as 'darklings'. These are little
gremlin like creatures that each offer a unique characteristic. Like the major powers, four are on offer, consisting of a 'Berserker' which is like a scrappy
fighting sidekick, a 'Light Killer' which does exactly what it says (eliminates lights), a 'Gunner' which deploys a chain gun on any near by enemies, and a
'Kamakaze', who comes with a backpack of explosives
whiling to take one for the cause. These darklings are only available where the game allows via randomly places spawn points, and only one of each can be
used at a time, but you usually won't even get a chance to have all at once anyway. They are quite useful at times, but they can also be very dumb such as
trying to shoot through walls, and often don't listen to your direction commands, particularly when you do have more than one activated.
So, in a few paragraphs, that is basically what 'the darkness' in The Darkness is, and how it influences the game. The thing about these powers is
you are not really forced to use them much at all, in fact if you really wanted to, you could probably finish the vast majority of the game without entering
into 'the darkness' mode at all. However, this would take away most of the game's extremely cool and unique gameplay, which is no easy achievement in today's
FPS world, [img]thedarkness_xb360_4[/img]so it is definitely
should embrace as often as possible - which it often tells you to itself via its obligatory deep scary voice. As long as you stay in dark areas and as
long as the current map is "combat approved" (not all are), then you can stay in 'the darkness' mode for as long as you like.
Despite its coolness factor though, there is one underlying issue with 'the darkness' powers, and that is it can make the game quite easy. These powers
enhance Jackie so much, that it really isn't that hard to stay alive by making sure to stay or create dark areas where ever possible, because as stated
before, your darkness powers will take the brunt of bullet damage and at the same time replenish its energy when in darkness. Seeing as the game only very
rarely strays from human enemies with guns, there is
also little variation on offer combat wise so once you get the hang of how to deal with a few pistol toting thugs, the game doesn't become much more
difficult than that. Even if you do die, you are simply respawned at the last checkpoint, which are generally very regular in occurrence, because as
'the darkness' will tell you upon death, you are invincible, and "it isn't [img]thedarkness_xb360_5[/img]your time yet Jackie". The game does have three levels of difficulty that you can choose before entering the
single player mode,
but the mechanics of the game still remain the same.
With that said, in many ways The Darkness does rely heavily on its storyline to keep you going rather than overly challenging gameplay. It's a good
thing then that it is an interesting game in this aspect because, while it is perhaps one of the coolest FPS's ever made in what you can do and how you
do it, without the presence of an interesting storyline this coolness factor would probably wear off after a while and leave the game hanging. While as
already pointed out the mafia side of this game
is hardly the most innovative, it still feels authentic and even though at times your darkness side of things start to take over in very surreal ways, the
contrast between the two works well and does a good job of telling two stories at once without confusing you excessively - although confusion is definitely
part of the game as Jackie himself struggles to understand what is happening to him.
If I could offer one criticism for the game's storyline, it would be that not only does the game tend to rely on it heavily to keep you interested at
times as already mentioned, but it also occasionally relies on it far too heavily to play events out. Sometimes the game will take
over and do stuff that would have been better off leaving to you, the gamer. What's odd is these can occur in rather crucial moments too, and the stuff you
do while under the game's control are usually far more extreme than anything
you can do yourself during normal gameplay, so they tend to highlight the shortcomings more than they 'wow' you. Don't be too concerned though, these only
pop up on a few occasions and actually do have a practical reasoning behind it - that is, 'the darkness' is taking control over you and doing what it wants -
they just don't work as great as I'm sure the developers hoped.
Despite the unique gameplay relative to what we've come to expect from FPS's, perhaps the best achievement in The Darkness is the sensational job
it does creating its authentic atmosphere. Set in the gritty city streets and subways of New York City, The Darkness really does a good job drawing
you into its world, enthusing you to explore and experience what it has to offer. While the areas are not huge, and outside of the two subway stations
you have access to the amount of other people around
in the city maps is far less than what would be realistic, they are very nicely constructed in the game's superb physics driven engine, featuring
graphics up there with the better Xbox 360 titles. Unfortunately there were a few instances of frame rate stutter, but nothing that effected the game play