Everyone’s favorite four-armed gunslinger is making an appearance at E3 this year in another preview of The Darkness II. We had a great time with the game at PAX, and Digital Extremes seems to be taking it upon themselves to polish what was already a very unique experience.

The release date has been confirmed, the gameplay walkthrough has given us a good indication of the changes we should expect to see in the sequel, and the press surrounding the game thus far has been nothing but positive. All The Darkness II has to accomplish on the show floor of E3 is – provide a consistently memorable experience, and gamers, especially fans of the original Darkness, will be pleased. We got the chance to have another look at this creepy shooter today to see what, if anything, had changed from our PAX impressions.

The demo was shown in a dark, round room, painted in the style of the level we were about to be shown – a carnival. As the demo started, we entered the digitized version of that same carnival – one that uses painted assets to make up its beautiful environment. I never took much time to explore the world of the first Darkness, but The Darkness II has a very notable and impressive art style, one that melds well with the intense, violent, and hectic gameplay.

The Darkness 2 E3 Screen 1

As we started to travel through the entrance of the carnival, we were introduced to the story of Jackie Estacado’s second journey, one that will revolve around a group called the Brotherhood. This Brotherhood was originally tasked with containing the Darkness so that it would not wreak havoc on the human race. Unfortunately, the Darkness’ ability to corrupt was too powerful for the Brotherhood – and they lost control. Now they are on a mission to reclaim the Darkness from Jackie, no matter how many of their members must face death in the process.

Jackie was attacked at every turn throughout the carnival level. In the initial fight, after dispatching a few weaker thugs with the quad-power of the demon arms and dual-wielded guns, a car pulled up, headlights shining directly on our hero. His arms vanished, and the player was forced to find cover to take the lights of the car out without being mowed down in his weakened state. Hopefully these creative implementations of the light and dark system will continue to pervade the entire campaign.

The demo also showed off several of the Brotherhood enemy types that the player will be facing off against throughout the game. Most of the enemies were relatively resourceful, taking cover and running from the terrifying demon arms, providing us with a good idea of how the AI will function in The Darkness II. One specific enemy 2K showed off was Brotherhood members with whips. They are able to snatch Jackie’s weapons right out of his hands, rendering him useless in long range combat. Their ability becomes even more destructive in bright environments, occasionally throwing Jackie’s weapons into a well-lit area. This should certainly force some strategic decisions on the part of the player.

The Darkness 2 E3 Screen 2

Of course, these enemies wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to take care of without the wide array of attacks at Jackie’s disposal. Dozens of guns litter the areas and the player is able to use execution moves on close-by enemies. 2K was kind enough to show off two executions, one called Anaconda (Darkness arms wrap up the enemy and crushes them to death), and another called Spinal Tap (rip the spinal cord out of the enemy). They are very violent and very bloody.

The combat is even deeper than the shooting, ripping and shredding though. We were shown a small preview of the talent tree, focusing on a levelable skill called Gun Channeling. This perk allows infinite ammo with no reloading for a limited amount of time. Another skill called Heart of Darkness allowed the player to see through walls and detect heat signatures of Brotherhood enemies. The most impressive was undoubtedly the black hole power, which oddly enough seemed to create an enormous red hole into which everything on the screen was promptly sucked. There is no lack of way to eliminate the Brotherhood, that’s for sure.

The Darkness series has unfortunately been off my radar since its release, but the more I see of this quad-wielding gunslinger, I’m going to have a hard time not picking up the first one in preparation for this very polished sequel. In a year that’s packed with traditional shooters – The Darkness II innovates in all the right places.

The Darkness II will be released on October 4th, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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