You've played as a gangster before, but can you remember the last time you played as one with demonic tentacles and an army of minions summoned from Hell itself?
The Darkness is a gruesome take on the FPS genre and a sequel to one of the most original shooters. The original scored a respectable 80% review average on Metacritic, drawing a cult following - enough for 2K to give a sequel the green light. And we're glad they did.
Back in 2007, Starbreeze and 2K released The Darkness. It was an FPS with a difference: that difference being an evil demon possessing the main character that let you impale enemies with razor sharp tentacles and toss cars around. It wasn't perfect - the basic combat was flimsy - but it boasted superb level design, a great story and a rich, dark atmosphere.
Fast forward to 2011 and a sequel has just been announced, but this time with a different developer: Digital Extremes, co-creators of Unreal and, more recently, Dark Sector on PS3. Starbreeze will be missed, but from what we've seen so far the new team seem to know what they're doing. It's still identifiably The Darkness, but with a new cel-shaded art style that pays homage to the original comic book.
It's been two years since the end of the first game, and hero Jackie Estacado is now the Don of the Franchetti crime family in New York City. He's managed to keep the demons inside him locked away, but an attempt on his life is the catalyst for their return. Once again he finds himself consumed by the otherworldly parasite known as The Darkness.
Under its influence, Jackie is granted incredible supernatural powers. He can lift heavy objects and skewer enemies with deadly tentacles, encase himself in protective armour and even create sentient life in the form of the Darklings; mischievous demons who obey his every command, voiced again by former Faith No More vocalist and bona fide musical genius, Mike Patton.
The catch? The demon 'eats' shadow to fuel its evil, so his powers only work in the dark. You have to destroy light sources in the environment to keep yourself veiled in shadow, otherwise you'll have nothing to protect you besides a weapon. New to the sequel is something Digital Extremes are calling 'quad-wielding' gameplay.
This is a fancy way of saying that you'll be able to fire two-handed weapons while simultaneously chucking objects around and stabbing people with your tentacles. Quite how they'll map this to the controller without turning your hands into twisted pretzels of awkwardly placed digits remains to be seen, but it's an interesting idea - in theory, at least.
Locations revealed in the first batch of official screenshots include Little Italy, where we see Jackie choking an enemy with a tentacle and aiming his stylishly engraved Colt M1911s at him - the ones he received as a gift from his treacherous Uncle Paulie in the first game. It's no less brutal, either.
The streets of NYC have the same dark, grimy feel, even with the new hand-painted texture style. We also see a busy Italian restaurant stuffed with NPCs, who will no doubt end up as dinner for The Darkness, as well as the familiar surroundings of the NYC subway. Whether this will serve as the game's peaceful mid-level hub as it did in the original has yet to be revealed, but the presence of enemies and Darklings in the shots suggests it won't be.
But other than what we can glean from the screenshots, specific gameplay details are thin on the ground. Concept art reveals a level that will be set beneath one of New York's famous bridges, and another in the midst of a warehouse fire. So nothing to get really excited about - yet.