Unskippable: The Darkness

By Shamus Posted Saturday Feb 21, 2009

Filed under: Movies 23 comments

I remember Yahtzee covered this game back in his pre-Escapist days and he mentioned how slowly the main character loaded his shotgun during the opening cinematic. At the time I thought it was a strange and incongruous thing to bring up. Okay, it’s slow. It’s a cutscene. So what? But now that I realize that the loading sequence comprises nearly the entirety of the opening scene his criticism makes a lot of sense.

This one was interesting because it’s a semi-interactive scene. They actually had control of where the camera would point. From the video, I can’t actually tell what sparks the conflict. They’re driving through the tunnel, then they see a police car and start driving like madmen. It doesn’t make sense, but I can’t tell if it wasn’t explained in the scene at all, or if some detail was missed because they had the camera pointed in the wrong direction.

I agree that the tunnel was just preposterously long. I understand that for technological reasons they needed to not attempt to render New York in all of its framerate-smashing glory, particularly not for a single throwaway scene. But it feels sort of odd to pretend to be in New York and then just have a long tunnel scene. If nothing else, they should at least have had an establishing shot of the city (a still frame or whatever) before chucking the player into a tunnel. Another approach would have been to set the thing at night. They could have alternated between tunnel / bridge / expressway scenery with just city lights in the background.

“Well, things must be pretty desperate if they’re giving the cameraman a shotgun.”

It stimulates my laughter gland. Once again, nice going to Graham and Paul.


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23 thoughts on “Unskippable: The Darkness

  1. Eightbitmage says:

    “It doesn't make sense, but I can't tell if it wasn't explained in the scene at all, or if some detail was missed because they had the camera pointed in the wrong direction.”

    From what I remember playing the game it wasn’t really explained. The driver randomly smashes into a couple other cars, then the cops are on them. I think it was just a random excuse for a car chase.

  2. Brandon says:

    “pretend to be in New Your”

    New My what?

    And weird, my Wavatar is new.

  3. Lebkin says:

    I believe the long tunnel chase scene was created for one reason: budget. There are not a lot of created environments in the Darkness. The game does a good job of reuing the same places a great deal, getting lots of legs out of a few art resources. This scene, bit on a New York street, bridge, or tunnel, is one of a kind. It doesn’t share its scenery with any other scene. A tunnel explains repeating art assets, because that’s how we build tunnels.
    Though there are large tunnels underneath big cities. Boston’s “Big Dig” project created a 3.5 mile for Interstate 93 in the heart of the city. Maybe the construction worker are building something similar under New York city in the game’s universe. I know its a stretch, but whatever. I never even thought about the tunnel length when I played the game.

  4. ima420r says:

    I’ve never played the game, but if the game is called Darkness then it makes sense that you would spend a good deal of time in a dark tunnel. Unless it starred Charlie Murphy.

  5. the Jack says:

    The first time I went through this opening interactive cinematic I thought it was one of the best I’d ever experienced.

    You get a great sense of the world the Jackie (the lead) lives in. Was it New York? I don’t think that’s ever explicitly mentioned, and having never been there I don’t know if the later locales are in that city or not. It does not matter a whit: the atmosphere is perfectly established in the opening.

    I’m not sure if the writers intended this, but the visual/physical of moving into a tunnel pretty much sum up what’s happening to Jackie: he is being railroaded by his environment and the creature that possess him.

    The chase in the tunnel is sparked by some cops having pulled over another driver and then noticing them (Jackie and friends) and the paranoia of the driver and possibly drugged-out lunacy of the front right passenger bring about the wild momentum.

    I liked it.

  6. radio_babylon says:

    edit: sigh commented to wrong blog post.

  7. guy says:

    I know how long he was reloading the shotgun.

    56 seconds. Really.

  8. Sheer_FALACY says:

    His shotgun-reloading time is clearly the reason he had no weapon in the first place – they only handed it to him as a last resort. That makes even more sense given their incredibly accuracy in the video.

    Note that it actually is a pretty good game.

    And yeah, they’re terrified of the cops. Both because they tend to do illegal things and because the cops are mostly controlled by their boss… and they just screwed up a mission.

  9. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I just want to point out that Yahtzee only reviewed the demo of the game, not the full game itself.

    I bring this up cause he didn’t like the demo, which is understandable, it sucked and jumped around the good bits.

    I’m sure if he ever gave the full game a shot, it’d sound an awful lot like his Psychonauts review; a good game with excellent writing making up for the “meh, it’s okay” gameplay.

  10. Telas says:

    Well, it’s kinda tough to reload a shotgun, hold a camera with your mouth, and keep from sliding around on a vinyl bench-seat while your buddy is weaving in and out of traffic like that.

    (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

  11. JMcNeely says:

    It makes me laugh! And in other news, the Wavatars make my son laugh! Also: Longest Tunnel Scene Ever… and none of it makes any sense…

  12. The Defenestrator says:

    I kinda assumed he was loading slowly because he just woke up from getting bashed in the head by a giant bouncer.

  13. Ravens_cry says:

    Thanks for that, my laughter gland was also well juiced. Even better, now I don’t have to restart my computer half way through, because the video just becomes a grey blank, but with the audio still working.
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Wonderduck says:

    If you found this amusing, allow me to introduce you to my friends, Joel Hodgston and Mike Nelson. They had this little show where they made fun of bad movies, maybe you’ve heard of it?

  15. LafinJack says:

    Except aren’t there actual tunnels that long into and out of NYC? The Lincoln Tunnel (which looks kinda like what they drive into) is 1.5 miles long, which would be over two minutes of drive time at 40MPH.

  16. ehlijen says:

    I thought that they actually had just almost run over a police man in their lane dancing antics just before the chase started. That’s a believable reason to have the police suddenly chase a car. Not with the force of a whole district department, but maybe one car.

    I also think the guys were talking about some crime gone wrong in the beginning (right about the time the ‘how hard it is to hear etc’ comment came up). So who knows, maybe there’s a body in the trunk? Or they’re on the wanted list?

    And I’m not sure, but I got the impression that the gun would only reload when the camera was looking at it (makes sense) which’d stop the player from figuring out what was going on…but maybe that’s just me.

  17. Kevin says:

    This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I suddenly find myself in a miles-long tunnel being berated by guys shooting at cops, and then I die. As for why, it can really be anything. Mostly it has to do with guys who really like shooting at cops, but once it started because someone’s soda didn’t have enough ice. You just really never know.

  18. Juni says:

    I remember Yahtzee’s review.. I’m paraphrasing, but it was like “The mafia decided to abandon all pretense of respectability in order to drive recklessly through the street like a pair of gibbering twats”.

    I had no idea how true that was until seeing this.

  19. Sheer_FALACY says:

    Actually, while it’s sort of surprising that they’re in the mafia in the first place, it makes a lot of sense that Jackie got teamed up with a “pair of gibbering twats” on that mission, considering.

  20. Terrible says:

    Tunnel did seem long to me, and the lines on the road should have been dotted white. Double solid yellow means traffic moving in opposite directions and neither lane is allowed to pass.

  21. Al Shiney says:

    @ WonderDuck

    When Shamus first mentioned UnSkippable in these pages, he clearly recognized it as an homage to MST3K. I’d look for the link, but it’s back there somewhere and should be easy to find. :)

  22. Paramnesia says:

    @ WonderDuck


    “Like MST3K, they do have to work with what they're given. And I think their hit / miss ratio is about the same as the crew from the Satellite of Love.”

  23. Oleyo says:

    @ Telas

    “Well, it's kinda tough to reload a shotgun, hold a camera with your mouth, and keep from sliding around on a vinyl bench-seat while your buddy is weaving in and out of traffic like that.”

    That almost made me spit my sandwich out, well done, sir(or madam) :)

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