3. The Darkness II
A small warning that this game is *NOT* for the sensible players as the amount of gore and mutilation here is quite close to Manhunt or SAW, so play at your own discretion.
You’re Jackie Estacado, the Don of the Franchetti Mafia family. You’re hiding a grim past, one that you managed to bury until an attack to your life has forced you to resurrect it. You’re the host of the Darkness, an entity formed of 2 living tentacle-like demons that enjoys to consume the human heart as a snack. Your quest becomes finding out who and why orchestrated the attack and take him down.
The Darkness is pretty much half of your weapons. You can use them to grab and doors, destroy powerboxes, whip them in any direction, grab enemies by the legs and go all wishbone on them (And this is one of the nicer deaths, since it’s fast). The second part of the weapons is presented by the conventional weapons: Pistols, shotguns, uzi’s and so on. The only weakness the Darkness has is that it cannot perform when hit by a source of light.
Those either come in form of lightbulbs scattered around or power generators that need to be destroyed since you cannot shoot the lights from them. Another thing that I deem awesome, is that the Darkness can pick up long and sharp objects like a pool cue or a bar of metal and send them like an arrow into the enemies impaling them to the wall, or … you know … just grab a door car and send it flying to slice the unlucky dude in half, but by then you can use that door as a shield. Due to the ability to quad wield (2 tendrils, 2 guns), you can shoot an enemy and strike another with the tendrils at the same time.
A shop system is integrated into the game, and it appears as a black form surrounded by purple circles and a black-purple combo of smoke above it on the map. You can purchase new skills using the essence gathered from the enemies killed. The shop menu isn’t completely intuitive as you turn the wheel and select the skill using the keyboard but you can only purchase by using the mouse, instead of just pressing Enter.
The amount of Essence gained varies by the form of killing: A simple kill gives you 10 Essence, while headshots, impales and fatalities give you 20 and eve 30 points. You can also add some change by eating their hearts, each granting 5 more of the currency. Also, by consuming the hearts you gain back health.
The fatalities can give you health, ammo, shorten the cooldown before you can use either of the 2 special powers or to create a demonic shield. Those super powers consist in launching a Swarm meant to stun everything in its path, while the second gives more power to your guns.
Due to obvious reasons, the whole story happens only during the nighttime. You will go through alleys, warehouses, whorehouses and even a cemetery. Of course there will be bosses that require some extra attention to your surroundings to figure out how to beat them.
– No shame in being as bloody as possible
– Various forms of fatalities
– Weapon dual wielding
– Unintuitive controls in some cases.
Similar Games: The Darkness
Commonly referred to as Borderlands’ cousin, I pretty much tend to disagree because of high amount of differences and very few similarities. Set in a post-apocalypse period that kindly reminded me of the Remnants series written by K. A. Applegate, which shares a similar story of the Earth being hit by an asteroid and its inhabitants taking their last chances for their race to send in space a few that should continue the species.
Returning on Earth you are welcomed by an attack from the bandits of Ghost Clan, getting saved at last second by Dan Hagar, a wasteland settler. Once he rescues you, he offers to lecture you about what’s changed, the Authority, the resistance and the cities. After helping the Hagar family with various tasks, you’re sent onwards to the first city not before meeting more trouble of which you get rid quickly.
Gameplay and Features
The first things you meet are the driving and the shooting. Those share the basics of Borderlands: Driving is third-person while the shooting stays in first-person camera. And that, besides the way the maps are distributed and the bandits, is quite the only thing that resemblance the game mentioned above. Instead of procedurally generated weapons, you have access only to premades but with an option to upgrade them with various mods. You can also use different types of ammo on the same gun for various effects, some do more flesh damage while others focus on piercing armor.
You start with a revolver, but you soon get access to shotguns, rifles, smg’s and even crossbows and rocket launchers. The enemies will give more ammo than you send in them so don’t be afraid to make your presence known. There are also ways of taking down enemies more silently (you will still warn those around that you’re near them but they won’t know from where you attack and start scouting the area).
One of such weapon (and honestly, my favorite due to its extreme effectiveness), is a boomerang-type called wingstick, which can follow enemies by on its own given the fact that you have at least the capacity to shoot towards them, not necessarily on point, and has a chance of returning back based on the speed the boomerang has (You can tell by the sound it makes, high-pitched = fast).
Since it has a separate key it can be easily combined with any type of weapon to stun or keep them from approaching you. The wingstick can be obtained early if you follow a tutorial and win the challenge given by a member of the Hagar family. You can carry up to 99 boomerangs.
Now, after drooling at those overpowered things that are the wingsticks, we move on to the random items you can find in the dungeons, either by searching around or as loot from enemies. There are 2 types of loot you can find. The first type are items that can be crafted into certain useful objects (even wingsticks, *drool*) with recipes received from various main and sidequest givers. Such items include RC Bomb Car, health kits (called bandages) and Lock Grinders, used to unlock various doors that usually lead to rooms of high amount of loot.
Unlike Borderlands, RAGE has only one button that can access the inventory menu and a few other tabs. You can choose to play with any 4 guns from the inventory and interchange them when you run out of ammo, unlike other games like GTA or Serious Sam where you apparently can pull rocket launchers out of your ass and shoot with them. You also have a second wheel made for items that can be accessed by the keys F1-F4, and in which you can place things like wingsticks, grenades, bandages and boosters.
There are 5 vehicles that you can own and play with, starting with a puny ATV and ending with a mighty 4×4 sand vehicle called Monarch, which can hold all 3 guns available to the vehicles. The weapons are a machine gun, a rocket launcher and a pulse gun. Each weapon uses finite ammo that can be purchased from any vehicle vendor or several other random vendors.
Besides ammo for the cars you can also purchase power-ups that will prolong your vehicle’s life in the wasteland. Also, unlike Borderlands, your vehicle does not have a free camera and a crosshair, instead, it locks on automatically and the weapons have guided systems.
Besides the dollars, a second type of currency, named ‘Race Certificates’, can be earned by completing races or continuous quests used to upgrade or repaint your car. Usually the continuous quests require you to destroy enemy vehicles out in the wastelands, the more you kill, the bigger reward you receive. There are a few type of races so you won’t get bored too fast.
Starting with the Time Attack as the first racing encounter to circuit racing, with or without weapons or checkpoint grabbers where you have to get to the flashy checkpoint faster than others. For that you can use both nitrous and weapons.
There are 2 mini-games available in the game, both based on luck. The first one there’s a board with holographic entities, 4 monsters and a mayor in the center. Using 4 dices, with each of them having a 50% chance to show either monster kill or mercy, you have 4 shots until the monster(s) devour the mayor. The sooner you clear the board, the bigger the reward. The second mini-game is a trading card game, like Yu-Gi-Oh or Hearthstone.
The player also has a chance to receive quests while he’s in the wastelands. Either having to destroy a number of enemy cars or collect artifacts that fall from the sky, it will award the player instantly once the quest finishes, with no need to turn it in anywhere.
Maps and Enemies
Most of the enemies are humanoid with a few feral-like ghouls. As you advance further into the game, you will find new types that will have more armor and/or better weapons, but nothing that a few wingsticks can’t solve. Also, sci-fi elements like force fields will be met with 2 ways of deactivating them: either by EMP Grenade or search for the switch.
As mentioned in the beginning, the maps are pretty much split like in Borderlands: You have the big-ass wasteland map, and several dungeon entries in there, the cities are separate maps like the sequel of Borderlands. A few safe areas due to NPC’s that can be found out in the Wastelands which give quests, but you will be sent to them, no need to search them by yourself.
– Lots of missions and races
– Varied enemies
– Vehicle and weapon customization
– It looks like the board mini-game is sometimes rigged to make you lose.
Similar Games: Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Borderlands 2
1. Blacklight: Retribution
The second MMO I’m getting my hands on to review, is a futuristic First Person Shooter game with one rather unique feature combined with lots of other elements that makes the game quite dynamic (though not always for the good).
Starting with feature, the users have access to ‘Hyper Reality Visor’ or HRV for sure which allows to see through the walls for a limited time, the need of recharging occurring after the users turns it off by himself or the ability’s time expires. However, when you’re in HVR mode you can only use the movement keys, the ability of shooting being turned off for obvious reasons.
The cooldown time is dynamic, the more you make use of HRV at a time, the more time it needs to recharge. One second of HRV requires around 10-15 seconds to cooldown and while it might not mean much, Blacklight: Retribution is fast-paced and kills usually take less than a second.
The second nifty gameplay mechanic is the ability to entirely customize your character’s stats through the chosen equipment. Everything can be customized. Whether you wish a light armor for speed or a heavy one for HP you can get everything you want or mix the 2 extremities to meet the center. Each armor part has its own model and design.
Furthermore you can customize your own weapons, choose their parts and make it after your own preferences. Real-time stats will be provided to help you choose the best components for your tastes, though not all of them will be available from the start, the need to unlock them is requested.
Like the suit, every part component is designed to be kept in balance (for example: the barrel can diminish the damage in exchange for a better accuracy and lower recoil). The third area that you can customize are the melees, throwables and the equipment. There are multiple types of knives, axes and even katana, you can choose between normal frag grenades or the corrosive type and even go for the EMP Grenade which acts as a flash ‘nade but with fancier effect than just complete white screen (aka, your entire HUD attempts to reboot).
Besides in-game currency and the real money currency, there’s also a third kind of it that can be received and used only in a match, called ‘Combat Points’ (CP). The CP can be used at any Weapon Depot that are found in multiple places on each available map. By default the player can purchase a full regen, ammo, a flamethrower, 2 kinds of rocket launchers, and one of the most overpowered things in the game: a Hardsuit. Once the match finishes, the Combat Points reset to 0 and you will have to start over in the new round.
The Hardsuit is a complete Mecha machinery which enables the user to do some massive killings. It has a gatling gun on one arm and a railgun on the other. A massive armor protects the user from an early death, but the enemies can overheat the suit with a flamethrower causing the player to die and the machinery is left intact for anyone else to use.
Although the strangers will take a while to enter it (around 5 seconds), while its owner enters in less than a second. While you’re trying to enter the suit, you will be left completely vulnerable to attacks. Trying to take care of the enemies around you will force you to start the sequence from scratch. The hardsuit also has thrusters in-built for fast transport in a straight line. This is balanced with the temporal movement paralysis after the thrusters have stopped.
The other negative parts of the hardsuit are the extremely low movement and no HRV ability, but you don’t really need HRV when everyone tries to make your suit a sprinkler. Also, each hardsuit has a random weakness point that receives more damage and it can be seen by using HRV.
You have the possibility to hack a few things like doors and objectives, the first kind to prevent the enemy passage through that area. In order to hack, you need to choose correctly out of 4 series of numbers that you are given. Choosing the wrong one (usually by hurrying up) causes you to act like you short-circuited and start over.
There are multiple ways to score points: From the usual kills and multikills, there are also melee kills, objective points and finally, you can obtain even more points by taunting the players you just killed, leaving you vulnerable for a few seconds, depending on the type of the taunt (Short, medium, long). Each type of taunt gives you a different score; the longer the taunt, the bigger the score. Failing to complete a taunt, for various reasons like starting to sprint or spotting a new enemy will give no score.
There are several gamemodes that users can play:
– Deathmatch – The most basic game mode in there: Kill everyone you meet. The one with the most kills when the time expires or the first that reaches the kill limit wins.
– Team Deathmatch – The second most basic game mode in there: Kill everyone that is not in your team and pray to your God that you don’t get newbies in your team.
– Capture the Flag – While in Blacklight: Retribution is not exactly a flag, but more of a cylindrical object, you still have to carry the item from the enemy base back to yours, while your ‘flag’ is still in its place. While carrying the flag you cannot sprint, leaving you well vulnerable if your teammates don’t provide cover, since, you know, you can be seen through the walls by anyone.
– Domination – There are 3 to 5 (depending on the map) beacons placed on the map, the role of the 2 teams is to capture and hold as many as possible. Each beacon gives a point per second. The team with the highest score at the end of the round or the one that reaches the limit, wins. You can capture nodes by either hacking them, but renders the hacker incapable of defending himself or take the long way and hold position until the node is taken.
– King of the Hill – Basically the same thing as Domination but with only one beacon that changes its localization every 1-2 minutes of activation.
– Kill Confirmed – Probably my favorite game mode here. It’s Team Deathmatch with a twist. Each kill that is made in this mode, leaves a floating tag above the victim’s body which you have to recover. Once the tag is recovered, the kill counts on the board. This requires extra carefulness since anyone can kill you from another side while you try to take the tag and he’ll take your tag and his teammate’s, thus making your kill invalid and not counting for your team. Also, if a teammate steals your kill, you will receive less points.
– Onslaught – The Zombie mode of this game. Split into waves you get to fight human and dog zombies alike as well as human enemies that are part of ‘The Order’ organization.
– Last Man Standing – Pretty much self-explanatory: You are on your own. Objective: Survive. And you don’t get a second chance on that round.
– Last Team Standing – Same as the one above if you’re not playing with friends.
– NetWar – The same as Domination only that it has a flag as a bonus, which, if brought to one of the conquered checkpoints, it gives bonus score to the team.
– Search’n’Destroy – For short, the bomb mission that all FPS players are used with. One of the attackers carries the bomb, you have to plant it at a point and guard it until it detonates.
The maps are set either in urban or industrial areas with no green influence, so pretty much all you’ll see around is metal and concrete.
– Great customization options
– Various gamemodes for every taste
– Able to cheat legally so cheaters in this game are lower in numbers than in other MMO’s
– Personally I see Hardsuit as overpowered
Similar Games: Blacklight: Tango Down