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Hands-on - The Darkness - Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 12 June 2007, 14:54

Tags: Hands on the Darkness Xbox 360, Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO), Action/Adventure

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Well, smack me on the ass and call me Judy, I never expected this. With so many shooters on the market at the moment I assumed that the razzmatazz surrounding Starbreeze Studio's 'The Darkness' was just that. I wasn't lucky enough to see the game in action at last year's E3, but I had seen the numerous trailers doing the rounds and yeah they look good enough, but many games are hyped so much these days that I've become quite cynical. After delving deep into 'The Darkness' preview code, around 5 hours worth of gameplay, I've been chomping at the bit to tell gamers that 'The Darkness' has been well worth the wait, promises to be as good as everyone has been saying and is one game that is totally worthy of the hype…

Based on the trailers currently doing the rounds, I was expecting The Darkness to be a decent shooter with suitably fine next-gen graphics, but I thought it was likely to disappear into the current crowd of first person shooters, perhaps somewhere in between Far Cry Instincts Predator and Perfect Dark Zero. I should have known better considering the brains behind The Darkness is Starbreeze Studios, the guys who created Chronicles of Riddick, arguably one of the best movie to videogame translations; a superb game which was lauded for its photo realism, atmosphere and compelling gameplay. With Chronicles of Riddick, Starbreeze created a visually unique looking game and pushed the capabilities of the Xbox hardware to its limits and I'm happy to say that they've done exactly the same thing again with The Darkness, but this time by pushing the limits of the 360.

Click for larger image




Click for larger image


I didn't want to go too over the top in this preview, but I know I'm going to find it hard to hold back my enthusiasm for 'The Darkness'. The opening sequence, which features a stimulating movie-style car chase, immediately made an impact and left me dazzled at the quality of cinematic production, superb animation and graphics, witty dialogue and great acting. It's a superb introduction to the game's compelling storyline and one that leaves you hungry to find out more. I'd go as far as saying that the opening 10 minutes felt very similar to the first time I played an Xbox 360 game.

The first game I ever played on Xbox 360 was Condemned. I remember staring intently at the screen for the game to begin thinking I was still watching the cut-scene, but then realising that the game had actually begun and that the stunning backdrop was actually in-game graphics. This introduction to the Xbox 360 left me beaming and shaking my head at the ingenuity and enhanced technology of the next-gen console. The strange thing is, 'The Darkness' will do that to you all over again and leave a lasting impression from the outset. But, it's not just the graphics that impress. It's the quality of the production, the cinematic qualities, the attention to detail in the photo realistic character models, locations and animations, the refreshing gameplay and the solid script. It's amazing to think that even though we're a year and a half into the console's life cycle, and I've already played the likes of Gears of War and Oblivion, that I'm still surprised at just what can be achieved with the Xbox 360 hardware. Although the appeal of 'The Darkness' isn't exclusively about the graphics and cinematic feel of the game, the gameplay does revolve around its dark narrative as well as the creepy and intensely atmospheric locations and ominous characters you meet. Therefore, the accomplished production and presentation, that you'll see with your own eyes if you purchase the game, is part and parcel of the whole Darkness experience, and is what essentially makes it so attractive to play.