X06: The Darkness Hands-On

We check out two playable levels from Starbreeze's upcoming shooter.

by

BARCELONA--If Starbreeze's Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay were the definition of a sleeper, then follow-up The Darkness is completely the opposite. The studio's first Xbox 360 game, The Darkness is building increasing momentum as a game to watch in 2007, and with the gaming world's attention fixed on Barcelona for X06, the team took the occassion to show off a playable demo of the game for the first time.

The first level we played is from early on in the game, but it takes place after the opening section where main character Jackie Estracado gains his supernatural abilities. Equipped with two pistols, our first task was to infiltrate a meat factory and burn the money of one of Jackie's enemies. The first corner we turned presented us with a non-playable character whom we had to converse with to gain intel about the factory and how to get in. The much-vaunted "vo-cap" technology in The Darkness has been designed to allow for realistic emotion on artificial characters, and even at this stage of development the animation was high quality. The overall graphical quality of the game is very high, but facial expressions are particularly realistic.

After talking to the man on the street, we were told by the game's designers to try out some of the different attacks at Jackie's disposal. He can dual-wield weapons, so the left and right triggers fire off the relevant pistols, and he will also reload the guns automatically. However, more interesting was Jackie's Demon Arms, which allow him to attack enemies and pick up objects from afar. A quick tap of the Xbox 360 controller's left bumper lets you call upon the demon attacks, but they will lose energy unless you head back into the darkness to replenish them.

The other supernatural power that we got to use was the ability to summon a demon to automatically attack enemies. By pressing Y to summon this saw-wielding little guy and then the same button again to tell him where to go, we managed to get him to attack all the enemies in the area in particularly grisly fashion. You have to be quick in ordering the demon around, as he will soon become bored and disappear, but he's great to use if you want to kill a couple of enemies without being seen.

The Darkness still has a couple of bugs that need ironing out at this stage--the game crashed twice during our brief demo--but we were able to get a feel for the enemy artificial intelligence. When enemies are alerted to your presence, they will quickly hide behind the nearest obstacle and fire at you from cover. If you want to confuse them, you can sometimes shoot out the lights and then send in your demon, or you can use your demon arms to tear through a room and send the enemies flying. There seems to be plenty of choice either way.

The second level we saw, which was referred to as "the tunnel" by the designers, was already seen at Leipzig but was playable at X06. It's the introductory segment to the game, before Jackie inherits his powers, and it takes place in an underground road system. With two gangsters in the front of the car bickering and the driver speeding, it's not long before the police are giving chase. For the next couple of minutes, this on-rails section is seen from your perspective as you watch the choas unfold. Then, as one of the gangsters is killed in a characteristically gruesome manner, you are trusted with a shotgun to fend off the police.

When we viewed this section of the game in Leipzig, it was behind closed doors on a huge TV with a surround sound system. At X06 it wasn't quite as immersive, but it's still a visceral and jaunting introduction to the game. While you don't have to do much to pass through the level apart from shoot at a few cops and construction workers, it's a fun and interactive way to pull you into the game and the story from the off. After running over numerous people and even shooting them off the bonnet of the car, the driver plummets into an underground construction site, and that's where our demo ended.

Our time with The Darkness at X06 was brief, but a chance to play the game allowed us to appreciate some of the nuances and hard work that have clearly gone into the game so far. The way that your character's arms move around obstacles is just one of the great touches, and the supernatural powers seemed to have been integrated into the game with thought and care. Above all, though, The Darkness looks to be treating the unique and mature subject matter with respect, and it will be interesting to see where the team goes with the series. The game is due for release next year on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Discussion

74 comments
ACSlater
ACSlater

i can't wait to get this game. i am goign to be so pumped whenever a demo ends up on marketplace

pcanepa
pcanepa

i hope its good. doesnt look bad. does look similar to spawn tho. lol.

lord-azrael
lord-azrael

Is this like Spawn in any way?Looks funky

toasinger
toasinger

It probably looks like the witchblade a little bit because they're both top cow comics and done by silvestri and pretty much they crossover with each other all the time... that's like saying spiderman looks a little like venom or something..

oosoup2
oosoup2

its got like a dark anime style story wich is sweet and game play looks decent so far, concent art for the game is NASTY

Necrotide51
Necrotide51

This is what the Spawn game should have been like.

zyzzvya01
zyzzvya01

Itll be cool to pick up stuff with ur demon arms and send little minions to kill enemies

The1-thtgotaway
The1-thtgotaway

Looks good but it looks like that old comic book Witch Blade a little.

AFWorm
AFWorm

Pretty Nice. Another one in the XBox Cache.

DesmondPills
DesmondPills

piecake good stuff shame its gonnin to ps3 lol whats gonnin? and if its supposed to be "goin", lets relax with the N's. oh, its going to 360, thats what my point was. who cares if PS3 gets it also.

piecake
piecake

good stuff shame its gonnin to ps3 lol

audioust
audioust

sounds like fun, love the artwork also

kamicolo
kamicolo

Seems fun, as long as they keep to the comic. Hopefully, you get more demons, perhaps a horde or two as you level up through the game

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i think he's simply a fool/fanboy, don'y blame him. it's not his fault. oh yeah and this game looks amazing, oh so very fantastic, i loved riddick. can't wait.

WillT12345
WillT12345

"cnucum did they say "dual arms" and "demon arms" able to grab from a far... while their at it, why not add a big sword... can anybody say "DMC4"? ripooffff!!! (sneezing) lol First off, The Darkness is based off a comic of the same name that first came out in 1996. Im pretty sure DMC came out after 96'. Second, how on earth can you even compair those two games, both are totally different from the other.

Bladefist
Bladefist

I watched some of the developers play this at ComicCon, and it looks friggin awesome. I told them I would be buying it the day it came out.

Kord911
Kord911

They shouldn't have cancelled Enclave 2, the original was a revolutionary RPG by itself anyway. This on the other hand, is shaping up to be potential gold.

STARS_Splinter
STARS_Splinter

Starbreeze did an incredible job with Riddick, and I really can't wait to see what they can pull out of the 360 with this.

cnucum
cnucum

did they say "dual arms" and "demon arms" able to grab from a far... while their at it, why not add a big sword... can anybody say "DMC4"? ripooffff!!! (sneezing) lol

guldlox
guldlox

i whant to see some gameplay videos!

princeofgames90
princeofgames90

Redrick was one of the best I'm looking forword for this

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Okay, if this game doesn't have any arm ripping then I'm going to be pissed!

ax_prime_basic
ax_prime_basic

Good to see the game on the 360... The Chronicles of Riddick was an incredible xbox game, and I can't wait to see what these guys can do on a more powerful console. Looks pretty good so far.

aRcad33
aRcad33

riddick ws the ish!! i loved that game

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

I wasn't too excited abou tthis game at first, but the more I hear, the less it looks like every other FPS out there.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I didn't play the riddick game

Inu7
Inu7

I still wonder why they ended up canceling Enclave 2. It kinda had a cool plot if I remember correclty.

ratzeh
ratzeh

Chronicles of riddick was one of the most underated games in history and should of sold way more than it did as it was one of the best fps i've ever played, good to see the lads who made it are doing this, i wish them the best of luck and i'm sure they'll do a amazing job on it.

YDS
YDS

Жир! :D:D:D:D Жаль, что не на PC :(

wooooode
wooooode

Well they have a great track record I can only assume that this game will be great.

ShinAkuma777
ShinAkuma777

sounds cool cant wait to pick it up on the ps3

Metalnoid
Metalnoid

The Darkness comic its amazing. I expect much of this game and maybe they made another for Wichblade :D

themyth01
themyth01

From the makers of Chronicles of Riddick I'm expecting big things from this game. The graphics already look awsome, can't wait to get my hands on it.

spydrman5472
spydrman5472

Hopefully this game will have a similarly dark and forboding atmosphere as Condemned does. That was such an under-rated first-person game (hard to quantify it as purely a shooter). I'm glad to see game developers going out and finding new niches in old genres and I'm even more glad to be having this game come to 360. I thought the $60 price tags of all these next-gen games would have me buying less but I already am on a constant quest to fill my library with top-quality titles, as I'm sure this will end up being. Darn you next-generation of gaming, darn you!

xXHackettXx
xXHackettXx

Man every good game, seems to be for the Xbox 360. Cant wait for 2007! But until then theres Gears or War, Spilnter Cell 4, Rainbow 6 Vegas, Forza Motersport 2, FEAR, and Call of Duty 3

mattxavier
mattxavier

Xbox 360 is going to have the must have games for 2007.

keinuveye
keinuveye

*sigh* another 60 dollar game for my must-have list...

dash909
dash909

i agree all this info for JUST ONE CONSOLE is amazing to say the least

DoniFilth
DoniFilth

Woow...it is just insane to know that the XBOX360 library is packed with a must-have and superb titles at this time around...and now the darkness which btw is from the creators of Riddick (Georgeous and intuitive gameplay).... I don't know how mush i can take...its just insane man!

e1337prodigy
e1337prodigy

Looks pretty schweeeeeet!! :). Shame it's not pc.. yet. Least it gives me another reason to buy Xbox 360.

rupbert
rupbert

Sounds like Condemned x 10! Great!