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Xbox 360 Preview: The Darkness

Players: 1-16 [Xbox Live]

Price:$59.99

Platform(s): Xbox 360

Developer: Starbreeze

Publisher: 2K Games

ESRB: Mature

Website: http://www.2kgames.com/thedarkness/

The Darkness is the story of Jackie Estacado, an up-and-coming mobster. After some work related incidents, the family Estacado belongs to turns on him and now it’s a kill or die scenario for Jackie. Little does the crime family know, however, that Jackie Estacado is no ordinary mobster. A long dormant curse/secret/power (whatever you want to call it) lies in Jackie’s soul. Basically what that really means is that this guy is capable of some ridiculously cool s***.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Starbreeze (creator of the CB favorite The Chronicles of Riddick Escape from Butcher Bay) is the single most underrated game studio in all the industry. Well, perhaps underrated isn’t the best word for it; their games always received high marks. I think a better word would be underappreciated. Yeah that’ll do nicely.

Like I said, Starbreeze is responsible for the modern classic incarnation of the Riddick universe. And now they’re bringing to us a wholly unique project that nonetheless carries that same Starbreeze feel to it, a feel that I suspect we will all come to know and love for many years to come.

In the game, The Darkness, Jackie's curse takes the form of giant tentacles that emerge from his body that he controls to pull off amazing maneuvers. These things aren’t just simple creatures though as they have a will of their own that attempts to seduce Jackie. Now I know that a lot of CB readers tend to be pretty huge Spider-man fans (at least I know that almost the entire staff is) and if you haven’t picked on the resemblance to Doctor Octopus, then shame on you. The entire scenario sounds like it has been very influenced by the saga of Doctor Otto Gunther Octavius.

Unlike Doc Ock though, the tentacles rely on darkness for their power, and the player has to retreat to the shadows periodically to recharge their power. All indications though show that this little retreat to the shadows will definitely be worth it as videos have shown these snake-like appendages whipping out and dragging down low-flying helicopters; detaching themselves and acting like scouts for the player by searching areas Jackie can’t reach; as well as being far less grandiose and just biting faces off.

In true Starbreeze fashion though, the game is said to be fairly short although the fact that it features a pretty open version of New York expands on the play time a bit. That really is just the way that Starbreeze likes to work. They create an engaging play mechanic and wrap around it a fantastically designed experience and they’re out of there before the curtain falls. They make sure every moment of the experience is worth it and actually deserves to be in the game.

Early reviews of the game are coming up extremely positive, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it to see if it gets our seal of approval. Because after all, while we respect the views of our colleagues in the gaming industry and their opinions, we here at CB Games are like a high class woman. We need to be wined and dined personally, we'renot just going to jump into bed with a guy just because we heard he's pretty cool...we need to meet him one on one. Uhhh...that doesn't sound so good, nevermind. What I meant is that we need to play with him one on one. Crap! That sounds even worse! Now we have to have another beer, steak and football party to reestablish our collective masculinity. Fire up the grill William!