Former Faith No More singer Mike Patton's resumé reads like a 28-year-old's impromptu list of the coolest acts in rock and hiphop—and with his turn as the voice of the eponymous demonic sidekick in The Darkness, Patton can add "making children shit themselves" to an already impressive list.
Unfortunately, the rest of The Darkness—the latest in a long string of first-person shooters to grace next-gen consoles—doesn't fare nearly as well. The story of Jackie Estacado, a young mafia hit man, reads like a junior college rendition of The Crow as played by a theater arts major channeling Joe Pantoliano. And while the game manages to create the kind of cinematic feel the Call of Duty series has become famous for, it seems more like blatant theft than admirable emulation.
Gameplay is the typical click-click-bang-bang that defines the shooter genre, with the addition of what appears to be a few novel twists. Mr. Patton's character—a creepy creature known as the Darkness—is a ubiquitous pal, providing eerie taunts, words of encouragement, and most importantly, supernatural powers. Where Call of Duty has you capping the Third Reich with automatic weapons, The Darkness offers you the ability to launch black holes at Nazi zombies, moments before devouring their undead hearts. (Mercury Fun Fact™: Shockingly, the German version of The Darkness has been significantly censored!)
A game with such a noticeably short runtime and so many "borrowed" ideas is never the sort of title you should purchase, but a rental is an excellent option for The Darkness. Its short span (10 hours or less) lends itself to the few days Blockbuster allows, and the story, while wholly derivative, is still more entertaining than anything that's currently in theaters.