I was thoroughly impressed by Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay when it came out a couple of years back (look into the 360/PS3 remake if you missed it), which made a similar game from the same developer an extremely tempting prospect. If this is anything to go by I’ll be very keen to see Starbreeze’s next title, as well.
The Darkness is similar to Riddick in that it’s a licenced FPS with a story-driven adventure to tell, all with superb presentation and a real vicious streak. Riddick could be brutal but didn’t take its PEGI 16-rating too far; The Darkness pushes what we can expect from an 18-rated game and really makes me wonder what exactly was going on in Manhunt 2. Aside from the gunplay and all that that entails, you’ll commonly be eviscerating people or tearing their faces off, and then for the final humiliation there’s a dedicated button to devour their heart. Wait until you see what the grinning fellas to the sides of this post do with said organ. All this, and lots of dirty language. This game might prove what I said about violence needing context.
The presentation bears mentioning again, because it’s at least as good as it was in Riddick. Aurally I can’t really find fault with the great voice acting (can’t imagine it’s hard to do Italian-American), but if I was being picky I’m not the biggest fan of the thrash metal that occasionally fades in during action. I have to drown it out with the sounds of death.
The game is very strong graphically, with only the occasional texture that doesn’t hold up too well and that common shimmery shadow problem on face blighting things. Overall they’ve done an incredible job depicting the grimy underbelly of New York while keeping faithful to the comic’s style (my preorder came with a copy as a bonus, and there are a few issues in the game as unlockables), and although I can’t really go any further without pushing into spoiler territory, suffice it to say that certain parts are among the most unsettling gaming sequences I’ve ever played.
My biggest complaint is that the aiming takes some getting used to, as it doesn’t really feel as responsive as it might be at first. It’s workable once you get used to it and, to be fair, certain other weapons take precedent over guns most of the time. It’s certainly not a flaw that’s going to ruin the game because the AI isn’t really all that clever. I doubt you’ll be that impressed with the game if Riddick didn’t do it for you but if you missed out on that one or liked it as much as I did The Darkness is well worth a look. Hopefully this is indicative of an upturn in the quality of games this year.
Even if the big show isn’t the same as it used to be (I miss it already), that doesn’t mean that the big companies aren’t up to their old tricks. This is what my money’s on the big three announcing at their conferences – which start with Microsoft’s a fortnight today – along with a few outside bets.
- $100/£80 price drop across all SKUs.
- Halo 3 campaign demo, hopefully closer to the real thing than last time.
- Ninja Gaiden 2. I then spend an hour trying to clean up the mess I made.
- Some real PGR4 and Fable 2 video.
- Rare bringing back one of their classics (I don’t think it’ll be Killer Instinct, for the record).
- At least one current PS3 exclusive coming to 360.
- Shenmue III. Please? If enough of us believe they’ll have to do it.
- Lots and lots and lots of sales graphs.
- Animal Crossing Wii shown and it’ll be a kind of walled-garden MMO: you live in your town with friends over the net, using WiiConnect24 to let anyone mess around in the persistent town at any time. Ban this sick burglary simulator!
- Mario Kart Wii.
- More Smash Bros shown, with a new feature that we haven’t seen. I’ll be upset if the Ouendan team isn’t in it. Sonic finally making it in is an outside bet.
- A new console for the Virtual Console. Neo-Geo?
- Miyamoto waves something around and Reggie has a new line for the fanboys to run into the ground for the next year.
- Absolutely no sales graphs whatsoever.
- $100/£75 off PS3.
- PSP redesign.
- Killzone 2 is finally shown and looks very good, albeit no E3 05 trailer.
- Home and LBP. Lots of comparisons to MySpace put me off it even more.
- Sony ruins their palindrome with the announcement of the force feedback Sixaxis. Shockaxis?
Any thoughts or predictions of your own are, of course, welcome.
So Manhunt 2 has become the first game since Carmageddon to be refused a BBFC rating, effectively banning it from sale in the UK. Unless they turn all the victims to zombies and make the blood green, it’s unlikely to see the light of day here at all. This is the part where I wave my import Wii and chipped PS2 around, grinning like a loon. I had no interest in this game until now.
The kneejerk reaction from many gamers will inevitably be the freedom of speech card, just as predictable as the tabloid headlines tomorrow (expect lavish use of the words “sick” and “outrage”). And as much as I dislike censorship, I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Manhunt, for all its excessive gore, depicted a man forced to kill or be killed without a say in the matter, and in that respect had some moral justification, however tenuous, for the act of murder. The sequel, on the other hand:
“…Lamb is battling with his own psyche. A reluctant but able killer, he’s guided by the rather unpleasant Leo, a fellow inmate with a penchant for bloodlust. And it’s this Leo who acts as Manhunt 2’s interior monologue, audibly urging Lamb to commit grisly acts of murder a provoking him to let go of his remaining threads of sanity.” (GamesTM 56)
Is it any surprise that the BBFC criticised a game like this for its “unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing”? I have no problem with virtual depictions of killing but when the only justification is that you’re a psychopath you run out of moral high ground to take very quickly. Even the most visceral horror films are told from the perspective of the victims.
I remember all the furore around the first Manhunt (ignoring the fact that the inaccuracies went unreported – like how it was the victim who loved the game), and being incensed at how under-researched the tabloid articles claiming that the objective was to sate your bloodlust were. Do we really want to make them right when they get wind of this one? For this same reason I think this game does nothing but harm to our hobby. We don’t need it. Every sale that this game made on pure controversy is another spot of credibility to the Mary Whitehouses of the world.
It’s unfortunate that it got banned through legislation, but when the developers won’t exercise self-control and a bit of responsibility it might be for the best.
BBC: FBI tries to fight zombie hordes
It’s the end of civilisation! Dawn of the dead!
Now tell me you weren’t severly disappointed after reading that headline…
The dissertation is done, and with my only exam now finished that means I’m one deadline shy of actually finishing uni for good. Hooray! Of course the downside is that I need to get a job, and that’s proving even harder than finding that elusive last agility orb. At least that dropped some hints as to its whereabouts and gave achievement points.
So far applications and CVs have gone out to Imagine (an acknowledgement and then nothing), Future (being reviewed), CNet (aka GameSpot; a rejection), and Blackfish Publishing (nothing yet). I assume it’s the same in any career, but I can’t stand the void when you get no reply at all, or even an acknowledgement with no follow up. When I got the rejection from CNet they were kind enough to take the time to send a personal email to say why which I really appreciate, along with an invitation to apply again in the future.
Still, I’ll always have this place, right? Hello?