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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Heart of Darkness

Saints Row is gone...for now. I decided that I'd rather not continue trying to fuss with a game that couldn't play nicely with my Xbox 360. And though I'll be playing Saints Row again in the future, I've got at least two or three months before my friend's done with his copy. At least Blockbuster gave me $13 store credit for my copy of Saints Row: not too bad considering that I bought it from Blockbuster for $30 and I got a lot of mileage out of the game. Still, it's a shame to have to put a game aside just as it was getting good (story-wise, that is).

Now, I turn my attention to a darker and, if you can imagine, more violent game: The Darkness!

The Darkness is a game about a young mafia thug named Jackie Estacado. On his 21st birthday, he is betrayed by his Uncle Paulie and dies; however, the story does not end there. Jackie is brought back to life by an evil entity named The Darkness. This Darkness gives Jackie a number of powers to use in his quest to seek his revenge. There is undoubtedly more to the story than that, though I've only played the first 30 minutes of the game so I can't comment any further on this matter.

My first impressions are pretty positive. Graphically, The Darkness doesn't really stand out compared to games like Gears of War or BioShock. The game's voice acting and sound effects are likewise run-of-the-mill. The gameplay, on the other hand, is something that I've enjoyed so far. There's a certain amount of perverse pleasure that comes from "executing" your opponents from point-blank range and devouring their hearts. The Darkness looks like it will deliver some solid thrills and a good amount of gore before I finally put the game to rest.

As with my other games, I'll once again be aiming to clear enough achievements to beat the Xbox Live average achievements earned and gamerpoints earned for The Darkness. The current average tells me that I'll need to clear 20 achievements worth 369 or more gamerpoints. Will I be able to do it? Let's see:

  1. Anti Hero (25 GamerPoint): Complete the game on Normal difficulty.
    I tried starting the game on the hardest difficulty setting hoping to pick up the Legendary Dark achievement (worth 35 GamerPoint). After trying to get through the first 5 minutes of the game five or six times, I gave up and switched the game's difficulty setting back to Normal. I'm a wuss...

  2. Cannibal (25 GamerPoint): Devour 300 hearts.
    The game guides that I've checked all assure me that eating 300 hearts is all in a day's work while playing through The Darkness.

  3. Fashionable (25 GamerPoint): Collect all the Darkling outfits.
    There are 6 darkling outfits to collect and I happen to have a guide that shows the locations for these outfits. Although some gamers may enjoy the thrills of manually searching for hidden items in a game world, I just don't have the time (as I've stated numerous times before). Considering how hard I've worked for some of Saints Row's achievements worth only 10 GamerPoint, it'll be nice to receive some easy gamerpoints again.

  4. Bringing People Together (5 GamerPoint): Trap 5 enemies within a Black Hole.
    One of the Darkness powers that you obtain in The Darkness is a Black Hole that will trap nearby enemies, spinning them around until finally shooting their limp bodies into the air. It shouldn't be hard to find an instance in the game where I find myself facing five enemies standing close together just asking to be "black-holed". Is it just me or does that sound somehow dirty...?

  5. Rogue Killer (15 GamerPoint): Kill 15 enemies using Creeping Dark.
    Creeping Dark is a darkness power that allows you to send a serpent-like creature off into the world. While controlling this serpentine demon, you can sneak up on unsuspecting victims and bite their faces off. It shouldn't be too hard to do this 15 times.

  6. Void Bringer (15 GamerPoint): Kill 20 enemies using Black Hole.
    If you die in The Darkness, any kills you made before dying are counted towards your achievement totals. You can then restart from your last saved checkpoint and kill some more enemies with those kills counting towards your achievement totals. This achievement should be as easy as finding 5 baddies, sucking them into a black hole, dying, then repeating the whole process three more times. As a "gamerscore whore", I love it when games make it easy to pick up achievement points.

  7. Gunner (15 GamerPoint): Kill 30 enemies using Darkness Guns.
    Using the same strategy as above (i.e. die/reload), this should be pretty easy.

  8. Ripper (15 GamerPoint): Kill 30 enemies using Demon Arm.

  9. Summoner (5 GamerPoint): Summon 5 Darklings.
  10. Legendary Summoner (25 GamerPoint): Summon 50 Darklings .
    There are dark portals scattered throughout the game. Getting these achievements is as simple as finding a location that contains a large number of these portals and summoning Darklings. Once each portal has been used, dying then reloading from the last saved checkpoint allows each portal to be used again to summon forth some more Darklings. Lather, rinse, repeat until the Summoner achievements are cleared.

  11. Darkness Master (100 GamerPoint) : Only for those who are completely in tune with The Darkness.
    To become a Darkness Master, you need to kill enough enemies with each of your Darkness powers. The die/reload strategy is the easiest way to earn this achievement, though I'm sure it's possible to do by exclusively using a Darkness power for all kills until the in-game achievement list (The Darkness tracks your percentage complete for all achievements, where applicable) shows that you've mastered that specific Darkness power.

  12. Roadkill (10 GamerPoint): Kill the workers in the tunnel.
    During the game's intro, you're forced to shoot some tunnel workers while escaping the police. It's currently unknown how many workers you need to kill to clear this achievement though many suspect seven is the magic number. Many gamers have mentioned that this achievement is damned near impossible to clear on the hardest difficulty setting.

  13. Ghandi (10 GamerPoint): Find a peaceful solution. At least momentarily.
    There's a point in the game where you have the option to handle thing peacefully (i.e. without guns drawn or Darkness powers activated). This is an easy 10 points.

  14. Romantic (10 GamerPoint): Real guys stick around for their ladies.
    Clearing this achievement involves forcing Jackie to sit on the couch with his girlfriend Jenny for a period of time. I'm not sure how long a period we're talking about here but any achievement that can be cleared without even holding the controller is definitely worth picking up.

  15. Heart of Gold (50 GamerPoint): Help those in need.
    There are a number of side-missions in the game that require Jackie to help out the less fortunate, the desperate, or the needy. Luckily, there are also guides floating around the Internet that list all the "kind acts" (some of these acts involve performing hits) required to clear this achievement.

  16. Gunslinger (25 GamerPoint): Kill 7 enemies within 15 seconds.
    I believe there's a point in the game that involves a machine gun and hordes of enemies. Easy to clear, difficult to make it through unscathed...

  17. Anti Air (15 GamerPoint): Bring down the Chopper.
    How hard can it be to take down a helicopter when you can create Black Holes? Not very...

  18. Take a Look at the Sky (50 GamerPoint): Take down 6 airplanes.
    What's The Darkness about again? Since when do mafia thugs shoot down airplanes? Oh wait, there was that mission in GTA III...

  19. Knuckle, Meet Face (5 GamerPoint): Perform a melee kill for the first time.
    Geez! They're just giving the points away here! I think the hardest part about clearing this achievement is running out of ammo so that the game will allow you to make a melee attack.

  20. Up Close and Personal (5 GamerPoint): Perform an execution move for the first time.

  21. Executioner (10 GamerPoint): Kill 25 enemies using execution moves.
  22. Legendary Executioner (20 GamerPoint): Kill 50 enemies using execution moves.
    When Jackie is close to an enemy and attempts to take a shot with his pistols, Jackie performs an execution move. For example, Jackie may knee his opponent in the groin and follow through with a point-blank gunshot to the back of his enemy's head. The executions are pretty brutal but quite satisfying in a twisted sort of way. It shouldn't be difficult to kill 50 enemies using execution moves, especially when using to the die/reload strategy.

  23. Picking Up Stuff (5 GamerPoint): Unlock a collectible for the first time.
  24. Gatherer (5 GamerPoint): Unlock 25 collectibles.
  25. The Collector (10 GamerPoint): Unlock 50 collectibles.
  26. The Obsessive Collector (15 GamerPoint): Unlock 75 collectibles.
  27. Completionist (20 GamerPoint): Unlock 100 collectibles.
    There are 100 collectibles scattered throughout The Darkness' game world. There are also numerous guides scattered across the Internet. After having completed the Getting Up achievement in Saints Row, I can't see these four achievements being too difficult to clear.

There are also 9 secret achievements to clear in The Darkness. If you'd rather not find out about these secret achievements, click here to jump ahead.
  1. Beginnings (25 GamerPoint): Complete the first part of the game.

  2. Into the Dark (50 GamerPoint): Complete the second part of the game.

  3. Happy Birthday (25 GamerPoint): Acquire Creeping Dark.

  4. No Man's Land (25 GamerPoint): Acquire Demon Arm.

  5. Crazy For You (25 GamerPoint): Acquire Black Hole.

  6. Hills (25 GamerPoint): Acquire Darkness Guns.

  7. Darkling Master (15 GamerPoint): Acquire all Darkling types.

  8. One With the Dark (25 GamerPoint): Achieve maximum Darkness level.
    What does maximum Darkness level mean? I don't know but it involves devouring a large quantity of hearts.

  9. Keeper of the Secret (10 GamerPoint): Someone's waiting by the phone.
    In the game, there are phone numbers hidden around the city on the walls, on posters, billboards, and other such places. I could look for them all...or I could just use a guide. Hmmm...what to do, what to do...?

If I can clear the achievements listed above, I'll finish The Darkness with 36 achievements worth 760 gamer points.

I'm expecting this game to take me a few weeks to complete. There are a number of shortcuts that I can take to clear some of the more tedious achievements, such as finding all collectibles and phone numbers. In fact, I've already started to play The Darkness and have managed to pick up 7 achievements (only 5 of which are listed online at the moment).

I'll be back tomorrow to recap the achievements I've managed to pick up so far and I'll outline my plan of attack for the remaining achievements. I'm really looking forward to playing through The Darkness: for all its flaws and mediocrity, it's tons of fun to play.