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The Darkness 2: Stylish sequel blows away our fears

First look at Digital Extremes' brutal follow-up...

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I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED STAB
Fast forward. Jackie's back on the Crucifix as the shadowed stranger steps into the light, revealing a monstrous, disfigured old man. We notice a gothic lamp in the corner of the room tempting a trail of purple smoke from Jackie's chest. "The host may only give up The Darkness by choice," he says. "I'll make you."

In a pleasing acknowledgement to the original game's events, our captor then flicks on a television screen showing the last moments of Jackie's deceased girlfriend Jenny, who he unwilling killed with The Darkness. Another flashback, and our first glimpse of Darkness II's meaty gameplay, ensues...

Jackie's back in the now burning restaurant, laid out on the floor in defeat. A grunt strolls towards our downed hero, taunting his bloodied figure. What does he get for his insult? His torso spread to either side of the room as Jackie explodes with Darkness powers, cutting him clean in half with his tentacles. This is a very brutal game indeed - and we love it.

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Rejuvenated by the power of The Darkness, Jackie storms outside to show off a combat system that looks like it'll have you feeling like a super hero; men are thrown 15ft in the air, impaled with projectile lampposts and split down the middle by vicious Darkness arms gripping a leg each.

2K calls these spectacular combat mechanics the 'up close and personal' system, which, again, puts you in control of both extravagant pistols and the lethal Darkness tentacle duo - the left of which is for grabbing (he's called 'Grabby' - we kid you not) and the right for slashing (yes, he's called Slashy).

The carnage is ramped up a notch by the introduction of the Darkling - singular this time, a sort of sidekick who combines the powers of all Darklings from the original game.

Biting through a baddy's head, sporting a skinned cat for a hat and yelling "check it out boss!" As he shows off his newly-claimed Uzi, we love our gremlin mate already. We love him even more when he shouts "You w**ker!" at an attacking henchman and later pisses on his corpse, but that says more about us than him.

Our demo concludes back in the dark, damp room where we started nailed to a crucifix. Pumped up by the proceeding combat gameplay, Jackie's had enough of torture and proceeds to slowly slide the bloody nail in gruesome detail from his hand, as an on-screen prompt asks us to 'Tap X'.

The nail goes straight through a neighbouring torturer's face, and the monstrous old man's off out the door. "You've brought this on your family! Your aunt Sarah!"

Spun 180 degrees by what we saw, we're now very excited for what looks to be a more stylish, spectacular sequel to one of the FPS gems of the generation - and Digital Extremes seems a capable custodian.

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What looks even more promising though is the respect DE seems to have for Starbreeze's work, and there are strong hints throughout the demo that the heart of the original is there.

Dialogue, like the first game, is fantastic and spread with abandon. There are also teases of a more personal story, which made the original that bit more engrossing, with plenty of haunting appearances of the deceased Jenny wandering through the alleyways and guilty sighs from our hero.

The Darkness II is out this Autumn.

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