Being a hit man for an organised crime family is never an easy job, but it's even worse for Jackie Estacado. On his 21st birthday, Jackie discovers that his uncle Paulie, a New York crime boss, has put out a contract on his life. To make matters worse, Jackie finds himself being taken over by The Darkness, a chilling voice in his head that manifests itself as fanged tentacles that emerge from Jackie's back. Jackie is able to use his new Darkness powers to take care of the hit men sent to take him out, but before long The Darkness starts to take control of Jackie and use him for its own twisted ends...
The dark ages
Being a first-person shooter, gunplay is very important to The Darkness. Jackie has access to a wide range of pistols, shotguns, rifles and sub-machine guns; some weapons can be dual wielded, with the R2 button firing the weapon in your right hand and the L2 button firing the weapon in your left hand. In addition to this however, are Jackie's Darkness powers. Chief among these are the Dark Tentacles, the snake-like appendages that grow out of Jackie's back and can be used to lift heavy objects such as cars, absorb gunfire and impale enemies. Using the Creeping Dark power they can also be extended through narrow gaps and air vents to unlock doors from the inside and attack enemies from behind.
However, the strength of your Darkness powers is directly related to the amount of light around. Too much light and you will be unable to manifest your powers, so you'll have to turn the lights off, or destroy street lights and generators to make sure that you work in as close to pitch black as possible. Through using The Darkness, Jackie is also able to summon creatures known as Darklings from specific spawn points. These Darklings come in four varities - Berserker, Gunner, Kamikaze and Light Destroyer - and are tremendously useful to have around to take out enemies for you as they wisecrack like demented Gremlins.
The game's visuals are incredible. Almost photo-realistic in parts, the levels are incredibly detailed and lifelike, and the streets teem with people you can talk to and side quests you can undertake, such as shutting down a crooked gambling operation or helping out a busker in the subway. Another nice touch is the fact that all the TVs in the game can be turned on, and show a selection of full movies and shorts, including the Otto Preminger and Frank Sinatra movie The Man With The Golden Arm, the 1962 version of To Kill A Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck, the entire 13-part 1936 series of Flash Gordon and several old Gabby and Popeye cartoons. It's a small touch, but one that gives you the feeling that you're in a expansive, living world.
All in all The Darkness is an excellent and highly polished experience. The story is compelling, having been based on the Top Cow comic book of the same name, and achieves a good balance of human and supernatural foes for you to fight. Gunfights are always tense and there are some genuinely terrifying moments as The Darkness starts to take over Jackie's mind and body. A game brimming with flair, imagination and a healthy dose of action, this is a must-buy for action fans on PlayStation 3.