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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Game Review: The Darkness

Last night, I finished off The Darkness. As many have previously noted, The Darkness is not a long game by any stretch of the imagination. It took me 14 days to complete the game which is quite a feat given how little time I have to play video games. However, despite being short, a little glitchy, and suffering from a terrible save-game system, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Jackie Estacado.

Before I finish off my review of The Darkness, I'll just recap the last of the achievements I cleared last night. And then I'll go over some of the achievements that I wanted to unlock but didn't.

Anti Hero [25 GamerPoint]: This achievement was awarded as soon as I finished the game (Normal difficulty). The hardest part to clearing this achievement had nothing to do with killing hundreds of mafia underlings, mob bosses, and crooked cops. Picking up the Anti Hero achievement was difficult because I was forced to sit through ten minutes of end-game credits before the achievement was unlocked! Imagine the longest Oscar speech you can think of, double its length, halve its entertainment value, take away the TV remote, and you'll know just how hard it is to pick up these 25 GamerPoint. And what would have happened had I simply shut off the game right after beating it? I would've gotten nothing...

Heart of Gold [50 GamerPoint]: You'll recall that my game was glitched when I first attempted to complete the Heart of Gold achievement a couple nights ago. The glitch occurred while attempting to obtain Dana Cutrone's apartment keys for Alfred Blackmoore. Well, after finishing off The Darkness' story line, I restarted Chapter 5 and set off to speak with Alfred Blackmoore once again.

Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch this time round. I got the mission from Alfred, went to Dana's apartment, she answered the door and then she handed over the keys. Once I brought the keys back to Alfred Blackmoore, I was treated to the addictive sights and sounds of an achievement being unlocked. I'm quite glad that I was able to clear this achievement since it comprised a number of sub-missions that sprawled across all five chapters of the game.

If you're trying to clear this achievement yourself, check out this guide for detailed descriptions and pictures of each Heart of Gold mission. I guarantee that this guide is 100% accurate.

Legendary Executioner [20 GamerPoint]: This last achievement was also picked up after I'd finished The Darkness' main story-line. Throughout the game, I'd managed to "execute" forty-one thugs, hitmen, drug dealers, and gang members. To pick up the remaining 9 executions required for the Legendary Executioner achievement, I simply loaded up Chapter 3 and started redoing the Vinny sub-missions.

The very first mission sees Jackie taking out a guy stalking his Aunt Sarah. Basically, I ended up executing this stalker 9 times by simply performing the hit then restarting from my last saved checkpoint. Since The Darkness tallies all execution totals across game reloads, I was able to clear this achievement in a matter of five minutes with very little effort on my part. And for what it's worth, the visuals involved in performing the executions are some of the most violent yet deeply satisfying (in a sick way) that I've seen in quite a while. Awesome...

Unfortunately, I couldn't pick up all the achievements that I wanted. The following achievements will forever remaining locked for me:

  • Completionist: In order to clear this achievement, I would have had to redo all of Chapter 2 from start to finish. Why? I accidentally died after picking up a "letter" in Chapter 2. When my game restarted after dying, the letter I'd picked up was no longer in my inventory and I went about my business none the wiser. When I realized what had happened, I tried to grab the letter in Chapter 4 when I found myself in the general vicinity of my missed collectible; alas, the game saw fit to bar me from accessing the area containing the letter.

    I hate it when games present "do or die" scenarios when it comes to picking up achievements. I hate it even more when games fail to provide adequate save systems that allow you to go back and correct silly little oversights. And so, I will forever remain one single collectible away from unlocking the Completionist achievement.

  • Gunslinger: I was preparing for a situation in Chapter 5 of The Darkness that would give me an easy opportunity to kill 7 enemies in 15 seconds. Unfortunately, I missed my opportunity and passed a checkpoint before I realized the error of my ways. I could correct this mistake and pick up the Gunslinger achievement by replaying all of Chapter 5 again but I'd rather not. For 20 GamerPoint, I'll let it go.

  • Bringing People Together: I tried so hard to trap five enemies within a single Black Hole. I tried in Chapter 3. I tried in Chapter 4. I tried in Chapter 5. No luck! If this achievement were worth more than 5 GamerPoint, I might give it another try. However, I don't feel like replaying all of Chapter 3 or all of Chapter 5 just to get one little achievement.

Now that I've finished the game, one question remains: what did I think of The Darkness?

  • Graphics are a little weak overall
  • Some annoying game-play glitches
  • Checkpoint save system can be annoying when it comes to finding and keeping collectibles
  • Online multi-player is supposedly terrible though I can't attest to this having not tried if myself.

This game is much better than the sum of its parts due to the solid story line. It's not so much what happened in the game that made me want to play it through to the end; rather, it's who the story happened to that made all the difference. You can't help but feel bad for Jackie and those around him. And for what it's worth, I'll always remember the endings of chapters one, three and five as some of the best and most memorable video game moments ever.

I hope that The Darkness 2 gives us another solid story, along with some much needed improvements to graphics, online multi-player, and game stability.

In the end, The Darkness is a must-play for action/adventure fans, comic and superhero fans, and anyone who appreciates solid story-telling from their video games.


With The Darkness behind me, I can only hope that Half-Life 2: The Orange Box is sitting in my mailbox when I get home tonight. If so, I plan on trading in The Darkness at Blockbuster (they give a minimum of $13 credit per Xbox 360 game), picking up some cheap beer, then getting my Portal on!

If not, I'll spend some time with the family, play with my sons, and watch a little House and Heroes with my wife.


Anonymous said...

this is probably...wait...it is a really late comment about this game especially since this was posted in november of last year but...meh. the collectibe thing is saddening to not be able to get but i aint bother with it at all. The dark hole achievement is easy to get if you go back to the black man with all the piercings in the canal street subway and do that thing for him which is to kill 5 closely grouped while standing gangsters. Getting the gunslinger achievement is annoying but can be done in chapter 1 when you have to go kill that guy that blows up the orhpanage...cant remember his name...something roach...either way it is in the basement when you give that one man the password and get into the little den area to the drugdealer. There are 7 men in the entire little place. 3 watching T.V., 2 talking, the doorman, and the drugdealer in the back-ish area...this comment is proly not helpful and you proly might not see it but...i just thought it ungood that you couldnt get those achievments that i hunted down yesterday...either way.

Klopzi said...

Anonymous -

Where were you months ago when I finished the game?!

All kidding aside, I appreciate the information. I sold the game a while back but I always appreciate learning of new ways to pick up tricky achievements.