Jackie Estacado ain't a man you want to mess with. Firstly, he's a mob boss; the Don of the Franchetti crime family. A man with morals and minions. A man who could have your head on a platter simply for looking at him the wrong way. If this wasn't enough, he's also the vessel for the Darkness, an ancient and unholy being that manifests itself in the form of two demonic arms sprouting from his shoulders. He could also be bat-shit crazy if a scene depicting him as the resident of a mental institution is anything to go by.
The jury's still out on that one, and having now seen more of the game, even more questions have been raised. The new level plays out in an abandoned warehouse. It's dank and dilapidated, littered with mannequins and prostitutes. It's a brothel, in fact, and Jackie's there in search of a very specific hooker by the name of Venus, whose job is to ply him with a gun and point him in the direction of Victor Valente - the boss of The Brotherhood, who are after Jackie and his powers - who is holed away upstairs.
The moment Jackie's fingers interlace with the trigger of the (rather beautifully engraved) gun, the game's signature demon arms take up residence on either side of the screen, and things kick off. While the first game often played out like any other shooter, the sequel places much more of an importance on these powers - something that was brought to the forefront during the demo.
Darklings also play a more instrumental role in Jackie's plight this time around, and you'll be able to take direct control of the squat demon-imps for the first time. Finding himself stuck behind a door drenched in light (which is of course rather harmful to the Darkness) Jackie must enlist the services of his Darkling chum, who scrambles up into a ventilation shaft in search of the controls to shut down the power. After dropping out of an opening in the ceiling, a few enemies need to be dispatched of before progressing. Pressing LB behind an enemy prompts the little fella to clamber up the guy's back and rip out his throat with his clawed hands. This is just as satisfying (and grisly) as it sounds.
Like its predecessor, The Darkness 2 is a grim and violent affair, but the Darkling adds some much-needed comic relief, spewing out obscenities with a thick cockney twang. He sings and hums, mocks and ridicules. Although I didn't hear it with my own ears, apparently the foul-mouthed little urchin isn't adverse to dropping the C-Bomb if he sees fit, but - just like the head-giving hookers that can be seen by peering into rooms about the brothel - it's not a dead cert that this will make it into the finished game.
The Darkling also acts as a cleverly disguised guide, subtly leading you along the correct path through the environment. Following him through the building, the next section of the demo offered an opportunity to acquaint myself with Jackie's powers. With two demon arms, the option to dual wield, numerous executions and plenty of other powers forming your demonic arsenal, combat is a much more multi-layered affair than before.