Quick review: The Darkness (Xbox 360)

When Deus Ex: Invisible War came out, I was pretty excited. I loved the original Deus Ex – it’s still one of my favourite games – and the prospect of a new game with better technology had my credit card twitching long before it came out.

And my god, did that game suck.

The game itself was fine, mostly, but what ruined it for me was the loading. It seemed that every time you walked through a door, there’d be an interminable loading screen before you could do the next bit. I reckon for every hour I spent playing the game, I spent 55 minutes watching loading screens. It was like a really good episode of, say, House stretched out to 37 hours because it cuts to an ad break every time Gregory blinks.

The Darkness is a bit like that.

Loading screens ruined the game for me. They are quite witty, but the novelty wears off after a while and you get into a rhythm like this:

  • Get assignment in subway station
  • Get train to other subway station
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Go up the stairs
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Realise you’ve gone to the wrong subway station and head back downstairs
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Get on a train to the other subway station
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Go up the stairs
  • Swear at the loading screen

And so on.

I’ll cheerfully admit that I’m spoilt by games that have nailed the loading thing – Crackdown, Halo 2 – but surely today’s next-gen console technology means we don’t have to sit through this stuff until the end of a level? It’s particularly frustrating with The Darkness, because it’s based on atmosphere. Every time the loading screen kicks in and you unleash a volley of expletives about the developers, you’re out of the game.

It’s a real shame, because the rest of the game is largely great (despite some minor issues – the city streets are empty of non-player characters when the baddies aren’t around; the hell levels are a pain in the arse to navigate; the map’s useless and once you’ve killed bad guys there’s a lot of wandering around empty stages) and the darkness powers are hilarious and gory. Overall though – for me at least – it’s Invisible War all over again: a potentially great game that really got on my nerves.

Anyone got Resident Evil 4 on the Wii? Any cop?