The Darkness II, which is based on the gruesome comics produced by Top Cow Productions, drags Jackie Estacado into another nightmarish adventure alongside his malevolent cohort, The Darkness. This first-person shooter mixes its gunplay with a host of demonic powers. After catching up with publisher 2K Games' Sheldon Carter back at PAX, we tracked down producer Seth Olshfski to learn more about Jackie's tools of destruction.
GameSpot: Quad-wielding is certainly one of the most interesting parts of The Darkness II. Besides scooping up enemies and ripping off car doors, what other ways can we interact with our environment using the demon arms? What are the limits of what we can lift with demonic lift?
Seth Olshfski: Demonic lift is a talent that uses the power of The Darkness to keep enemies floating in the air when you slash upward. To use it, you need to purchase the talent and slash your enemies in an upward direction. Before you purchase demonic lift, enemies will fly up in the air and then fall back down; with demonic lift, enemies will fly up in the air where they will be suspended helplessly by the power of The Darkness for a short while before falling back to the ground.
It works great in conjunction with ground pound, which obliterates airborne enemies when you slash in a downward direction. Slash a guy up into the air and then down into the ground, and you see an explosion of entrails. I also like using demonic lift for some surgical dismemberment--lifting enemies up in the air and then ripping off a leg with the slashing demon arm or simply cutting them in half. I'm not sure why, but it's really satisfying to dismember an enemy that's helplessly floating in the air. There's just a feeling of being powerful and awesome, looking at that poor Brotherhood soldier floating helplessly in the air waiting to die.
GS: Will we be able to use ground pound to knock around cars or otherwise deform the environment?
SO: Enemies not only explode when you slash with the ground pound, but there's also a residual effect on the stuff nearby the explosion. So if you ground pound a Brotherhood rookie in the middle of a crowd, not only will you send his insides flying, but you'll also send any nearby objects or other enemies airborne.
GS: From a narrative standpoint, is The Darkling always the same character or are there multiple darklings that take turns helping Jackie? From what we've seen, The Darkling also has a real twisted sense of humor. Is that taken straight from the comics or has your team injected some of its own material into the character?
SO: That's definitely true; The Darkling has a great twisted sense of humor. He's Jackie's sidekick and has a huge role in the story. And, yes, Jackie has decided to manifest just one darkling this time around. We made that choice to focus the narrative on Jackie, but we obviously drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including the comics, to create his personality and being.
GS: In what ways can The Darkling assist you in combat? Will it be able to extinguish lights for you, for instance?
SO: The Darkling will disable enemies though a variety of combat mechanics; for instance jumping on their back and on their head. He'll pull guys out from behind cover so you can get a better shot. He picks up guns and ammo from the ground and brings them to you. As an added bonus, you can pick him up with your demon arm and throw him. He explodes on impact. He doesn't like that very much though.
GS: We've heard that there will be otherworldly locations to visit in The Darkness II. Care to give us any hints as to where those locations might be?
SO: Hints!? You want hints? Here's all you're getting: They're not in NYC.
GS: What is the top fan-requested piece of content for The Darkness II, be it a character from the comics or a specific Darkness power?
SO: There are probably two things tied for number one. The first is Mike Patton; everybody loved his voice for The Darkness from the original game. He just sounds like The Darkness should in a game of this caliber. He's part human, part beast. When he gets in the recording studio, it's really amazing. We're really glad to have him back, and the fans really appreciate it.
Tied with Patton would be requests for appearances by other characters from the Top Cow universe.
GS: In the first game, the theme of the narrative was revenge, with Jackie seeking revenge for Jenny's death. From what we've seen of The Darkness II, it looks like the theme will be survival, with Jackie being hunted by The Brotherhood. Is this accurate and will the story focus primarily on this conflict?
SO: Survival. That's a pretty good way to frame it. I think it's definitely true for the beginning of the narrative. We have a three-act structure for the game, and act one could definitely be called survival. From Jackie's perspective, somebody drove a van into your dinner; they sniped that stripper right in front of you; random dudes in orange jumpsuits are gunning for you; and some crippled dude keeps teleporting around and demanding The Darkness. Jackie definitely starts the story fighting for his life.
Act two, however, takes the story in a more proactive direction. Something (that I can't talk about now) is revealed to Jackie and he gets really [mad]. That's when he takes the fight to the enemy.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the game?
SO: I can't wait for everybody to start quad-wielding. I play a lot of games, and every time I play another first-person game, I miss my demon arms. They're just really fun to use, and I think the moment-to-moment gameplay of The Darkness II will leave the fans ecstatic.
GS: Thank you for your time.