Things aren't getting any better for Jackie Estacado, the star of the upcoming first-person shooter The Darkness II. In our previous coverage, we saw Jackie get reacquainted with his malevolent darkness powers. We were also introduced to Victor, the head of an organization obsessed with possessing the darkness for itself. At this year's E3 convention, 2K Games and Digital Extremes were ready to give us another peek into Jackie's ongoing struggle against forces both external and internal.
The hands-off demonstration opened with a weathered billboard welcoming us to Hellgate Field amusement park. The hour was late, and in the distance, we spotted a fleeting image of Jenny--Jackie's deceased girlfriend. Following the siren's song of her voice, our character ventured deeper into the park. What he found inside wasn't his lost love but a pack of goons from the brotherhood. In the previous game, most of Jackie's enemies were simple street roughs and mobsters. They knew their way around a machine gun, but a pair of tentacles with pointy teeth on the end was way above their pay grade.
This is not the case in The Darkness II, at least when it comes to the brotherhood. These guys know a thing or two about Jackie's power--specifically its susceptibility to light. Armed with this knowledge, brotherhood enemies employed numerous tricks to lead Jackie into the light. Some carried large spotlights; others employed blinding flash grenades. In these instances, our antihero had to think fast and neutralize these high-priority targets first before tangoing with the rest of the troops.
Quad-wielding is still a big part of this game. From what we saw, it seemed that Jackie was always doing two things at once during a fight. Most often this involved picking one enemy up and impaling him with the tentacles while shooting another. For every kill, a little +10 or +25 would pop out and be added to a running tally. These are experience points that are used for leveling up Jackie through a skill tree. The tree was broken down into four branches: weapons, mystic, demonic, and gun channeling. Our demonstration focused primarily on the latter.
Gun channeling basically means focusing the raw power of the darkness into whatever firearm(s) Jackie has on hand. Two points were placed into this branch of the skill tree, which first unlocked the ability and then increased its duration. The end result granted a simple submachine gun with the stopping power of a tank. An encounter with a half-dozen guards that could have lasted minutes only lasted for a few seconds. However, gun channeling only worked so long as Jackie stayed in the shadows. Further along in the demo, another point was put into this skill tree, allowing Jackie to see through walls while channeling. Using this new trick, our character spied a cluster of goons barricaded within a wooden shack. The building's thin walls didn't offer much protection once our character started firing and turned every red enemy outline into a dead enemy outline.
The loveable, foul-mouthed Darkling also accompanied Jackie throughout the demonstration. Serving as the game's twisted version of comic relief, this fiend popped in and out of battle to aid our character (whom he referred to as "monkey") as best it could. Sometimes it would hop onto an enemy's head and ride him like a cowboy. Other times, it would snag the enemy's pant leg and pull him out into the open while yelling "shoot him in the bum!"
Our demonstration ended with a bang when Jackie's darkness tentacles got a hold of a corrupt heart. This unlocked the black hole ability that spawns a violent black-and-red vortex into the world that basically either consumes or annihilates everything in the area. However, right when it finished, Jackie was suddenly bathed from all sides in high-beam lights. When he came to, he picked himself up off the floor of what appeared to be a hospital of sorts. A concerned-looking doctor stood across from him and stated, "You've had an episode; we're going to help you." With that, the demo ended. Now we're eager to see what happens next when The Darkness II is released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 4.