In the back of a dive bar in New York City, the stench of ruined lives is almost as strong as the acrid smell of the bleach used to clean up the over-used restrooms. Four defective deviants surround a poker table. They’re playing an invite only high-stakes game where their lives are on the line with every hand dealt. Far from friends, this quartet came together for one reason: the Darkness.
Recruited by Jackie Estacado himself, these four fiends have a vendetta to settle against the Brotherhood. Wielding Darkness-empowered weapons of their own, Jackie’s personal hit squad is tasked with taking down the Brotherhood, and finding a series of Darkness artifacts before the crazed cult does. It won’t be easy, but with this motley crew responsible for the fate of the free world, it will certainly be bloody.
With an ancient power like the Darkness on his side, Jackie Estacado may seem like an unstoppable one-man army, but everyone can use a little help now and then. That’s where we came in during 2K’s hands-on with The Darkness II’s newest mode, Vendettas. “The only way it makes sense to us for the Darkness II to have a multiplayer component, is for it to be a co-op experience,” said Digital Extremes’ Project Manager Sheldon Carter. You and up to three friends will side with Jackie in his new war against the Brotherhood in a story that runs parallel to the single-player campaign. Four new characters have been created just for Vendettas, and each of them brings a decidedly different set of skills to the experience.
Shoshanna’s a no-nonsense former Israeli Special Forces soldier, and her Darkness-imbued shotgun packs a wallop. The sword-slinging Inugami is a whirling dervish that slices, dices, and steals souls in order to survive. Then you’ve got the crass Celtic, Jimmy Wilson. His approach is much more personal, and he loves introducing his Darkness-powered axe to people’s heads. Rounding out this cabal is the voodoo witch doctor, JP Dumond. As proficient with a gun as he is with the black arts, his skull staff can warp hearts and minds just as easily as it can spines. If it seems like these characters are nothing more than stereotypical, that’s because they kind of are. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and is in no way a detriment to the game, but it would have been nice to see these characters receive the same amount of depth that Jackie has been given.
After we’ve picked our characters, the story has us on the hunt for Johnny Powell. Jackie needs Johnny rescued because he has some knowledge about where we can find these Darkness artifacts. Though the game can be played by up to four players, our demo teams us with only one other human. You can play all this content by yourself, but Vendettas is built around multiple players. That said, according to Carter, the game does scale difficulty appropriately based on how many people are playing at a given time. The whole affair is drop-in/drop-out, though once you select a character to play as at the start, that’s who you’ll be in control of for the duration of the campaign. Vendettas also has an additional mode called Hit List. Hit List puts you on the hunt of secret Brotherhood members in high-ranking positions in the media or politics, and it’s up to you to take them out. These missions are a bit more challenging than the narrative portions, but are just as enjoyable.
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