The Darkness PS3 / Xbox 360

The DarknessPS3 / Xbox 360
While The Darkness (the videogame, not to be confused with a certain deceased band of cock rockers) has arrived with little fanfare, it is one of the best and unique FPS games in recent memory. Developers Starbreeze, who made the equally under the radar but awesome The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (the last good project Vin was associated with), again comes through big-time, creating an original concept and executing it almost flawlessly. Based on the comic series by Top Cow, The Darkness tells the tale of Jackie Estacado, a hit man for the New York mob who, upon his 21 birthday, and coincidentally after his "uncle” Jackie (the head of the "family”) turns on him, develops demonic powers (the titular Darkness, who happens to be after Jackie’s soul) to help him on his kill-crazy rampage of revenge. However, that breakdown sells the game’s level of artistry and its compelling storyline short. Opening with a truly pulse-pounding chase scene, the game features amazing graphics throughout, creating a noir-ish atmosphere in the city settings and a demonic one for, well, elsewhere. What initially seems like a concept that would clang — mobsters, demons and super-powers — actually blends together quite well, adding a twist to the run’n’gun (well, walk’n’gun; Jackie doesn’t run) of most first-person shooters, allowing you to scout ahead and kill with tentacles, absorb huge amounts of damage, summon black holes and darkling minions, acquire demon weapons, etc. And, even though it seems prerequisite to off Nazis in any FPS, The Darkness manages to place it in context (um, hell) and make it work nicely. As well as the great visuals and storyline, the voice acting is superb, further drawing the player in, and yes, that is the legendary Mike Patton voicing the demonic Darkness. While the ending leaves the story open for a sequel, and a few minor game-play tweaks would have been appreciated (i.e., running, the Darklings being a little more controllable, etc.), The Darkness is a great game that even fans disenchanted with the FPS genre will succumb to. (2K)