Dark Void review
The jetpack with a couple of hours of fuel left – use wisely
So Capcom decide to enter 2010 not just by publishing a crossover fighter (for the fudging Wii, of all consoles), but also publishing a third person shooter / flight simulator game. I like shooting as much as the next dude, and flight simulators are pretty cool on occasion (and I mean the PS2 ones, before anybody asks), and I think Capcom is one of the best third party developers out there, but they must've just been wanting more money, because Airtight Games, the company who made this game that Capcom decided to publish, forgets that we aren't all that impressed by Gears Of War clones anymore, especially generic ones, and also forgets that certain missions suck and can't be improved on. Well, let's dive in!
Here, I was thinking the Bermuda Triangle WAS a parallel universe. Thank you, Airtight Games, for proving me wrong - again!
You play as William Augustus Grey, who crashes his plane on the Bermuda Triangle. From there, he teleports to a parallel universe and encounters other humans simply known as the Survivors. In order to return to their universe, they must defeat the Watchers, an alien race who enslaves humans that enter their dimension. Eventually, they rustle up some Watcher technology and get around to some ass kicking!
At first, the plot seems interesting. You meet up with the resistance, and you want to check out these aliens. Yeah, it's all awesome! You end up wondering what the hell is going to go on! Eventually, you just end up going to sleep. The plot just drivels on and on, with no big twists or anything, and fails to really pick up. It made me tune out, which isn't good because it really, really psyched me up at the beginning, and since tuning out lowers skill in gaming, it really makes you feel weak while playing through the game.
Sup Gears Of War?
The third person shooter portions play out like your average post-2005 third person shooter that tries to copy Gears Of War's "run and cover" system. If you’re unsure as to how this works, you run around with a gun in your hands, shooting enemies. The controls manage to work finely by letting you move, shoot and stuff without any problems, and it has a button for taking cover... It’s nothing really big, just some competent controls. Maybe a bit sticky here and there with the covering system, but ultimately, the control is just competent. In fact, the third person shooter gameplay is just competent. It’s nothing that gets the blood racing. It just feels like stuff we’ve done millions of times. Not that that’s bad or anything, but when the millions of times it’s been done before are more exhilarating and better executed, you know that you found some mediocrity. Hopefully, you can put up with mediocrity, because the first couple of hours consist of these segments.
One thing I should point out is that enemies are surprisingly weak against physical attacks. They can take a few bullets, but god forbid you ever punch them! You punch them, and they fall like lepers at the slaughter! You know you buggered up enemy design 101 if fisting them is what kills them quicker. I mean... you only really use weapons from afar, but once you get within the vicinity of the enemy, it’s time to get out those fists of fury! This kind of thing only works for Bionic Commando, and that’s because of the bionic arm. Dark Void... no excuse.
One interesting feature is the vertical combat. You jump on a ledge, and while hanging upside down or whatever, you get to shoot people trying to get you off the cliff and die. It’s interesting for a while, since not many other games utilize this kind of cover style (well, except Uncharted 2, but that’s about it). After a bit, this kind of cover system
But you know that the big deal with this game is the jetpack. At first, the jetpack is just to zoom around the area, giving you quite an advantage over the enemies with some killer 'death from above' shots, graceful landings behind cover and whatnot. It feels pretty cool, just killing stuff from above or gracefully landing to whip enemies to death with your all powerful fists of fury!
Then the jetpack realizes that it's underutilized, so here's where the flight simulation part comes in. You launch into the air and start flying around. Now, I hear people bitching about not being able to use the right analog stick to aim - eh, I don't see the problem. If anything, I think it helps you keep an eye on where you're going. If anything, the sensitivity of the movement controls are a little too much, though it’s easy to adjust to, especially since you’ll have so much fun with these sections, you’ll fail to pay a whole lot of attention to it (and really, isn’t that the best way to do it? Let them up without them noticing).
The flight aspect isn’t free of its own problems, though it’s more from a balance perspective than anything. Enemies can sometimes be tough to hit, and at times, they take a lot of damage before they go down, and dying is an insanely easy feat while in the air as opposed to the ground, as sometimes, you so much as rub the tip of your knee on a wall or enemy, and you’ll be knocked into the stratosphere and die. I guess it’s meant to be realistic, but for some time, you’ll get annoyed, constantly hitting everything due to having to get adjusted to everything.
But the worst part about the flight missions have to be these stupid escort and protection missions! Every time I do these missions, I get so close, then the guy or machine I’m meant to protect dies or blows up, and that’s the end. Fission mailed, man! Dark Void really takes it where the sun don’t shine! You’re having fun, shooting everything down on your rocket – but oh no, some guy needs protecting, and he dies shortly after. Oop, there goes your fifty bucks! The real shitsucker here, is that these missions take up a fair bit of the second half. It’s like “oh man we can’t let them have fun, let’s stick these stupid missions in, NOW WE’LL SCREW THE KIDDIES OVER!” Goddammit! What are you newbies thinking!?
Disappointment, be thy guide!
The game doesn’t last long... The one thing Capcom forgot to do was replay value. First off, the game lasts only 6 hours, it’s not all that hard (except for the jetpack fights at first), and if you’re ever stuck at a point, it’s due to frustration (escort missions). The only incentive to keep the game spinning in your console is to unlock all of the trophies, and they’re not that hard to do. After you’re done, well, there you go. Better sell Dark Void for a few bucks, because there’s no online jetpack fights to speak of... unless this downloadable content they speak of has some extras worth going through.
It tries to be good, but doesn’t quite make it.
On the audio/visual side of things, Dark Void really hasn't got much going for it apart from a pretty cool soundtrack and Nolan North, because everyone knows he’s awesome. The game runs on Unreal Engine 3 (can we bandwagon on another engine sometime in the future, guys) and though it has some nice use of lighting effects in outdoor sections. Some animations look pretty nice, particularly the flight animations with your nifty little jetpack. Not bad. However, the overall look is competent, though nothing special, and lacking the technical eye candy to wow you in any way at all. There’s nothing here that's memorable.
In terms of sound effects, they do their job appropriately, albeit weakly executed, and mostly noticeable in surround sound. This is a little disappointing as the implementation could’ve worked wonders on immersion factor. Some sounds tend to loop for a few seconds before finally shutting up, so it’s not exactly bug free either. But as we said earlier, the soundtrack is quite nice and certainly adds a lot to the game.
Dark Void disappointed me. They're new on the market, I'll understand that you have to get out there somehow, and while it isn’t a bad game, it starts off remarkably slow and feels way too familiar during this start, like you think you accidently put in Gears Of War or a less interesting Uncharted. Then you get that jetpack after some time (probably when you wake up), and start kicking ass. When you’re not doing crappy escort missions, you’re flying through the air and trying to make the flying machines your bitch, but when there are some moments of third person shooting, eh, at least you can make it more fun with the jetpack. If you’re looking for a week’s worth of entertainment, give this a rent. You’re better off flushing $13 down the toilet than do what I did and flush $90 down the drain.
Had a decent enough concept, but managed to do two things wrong - reminded me way too much of a poor man's Terminator: Salvation, and found the characters way too hard to care for beyond their voice acting.
This game makes me hate escort missions even more than I already do, though the jetpack segments are fairly cool... and that's about it. The third person shooter portions of the game seem decent enough, though a game can't be technically sound and that's it, because it’ll get boring, until you get the jetpack. Then it’s over, finished quickly like dynamite.
The cover controls are a bit sticky and just don't feel as good as they should. Amongst that, sensitivity for the jetpack controls balances itself more towards the “too much” side, though it’s possible to get used to it. Aside from that, the controls are fairly good.
The art direction is an acquired taste, I understand. I like it; it makes me think back to the Rocketeer, a kickass movie. The actual technical specifications stuff is fairly competent, if inferior to other games released this year. Not a huge variety of enemy models and the colors are a bit on the bland side. Seems to be having some framerate issues too.
Grade-A soundtrack, definitely feels good. The voice acting is also top notch (though, like Mirror’s Edge, it’s wasted on a terrible story). Shame about the somewhat lackluster sound effects, though.
The fact that it feels like a half baked game that serves as filler while Capcom are busily counting their money makes Dark Void less appealing. It's disappointing, and there are other games out there to play to pass the time. A jetpack seems like a great idea, but again, you have to deal with the game without a jetpack for an hour or two, and you'll spend a fair bit of the game on foot. Being honest, it's a 70/30 split, with on foot winning. If there was more jetpack missions, longer length and an online mode, this would be a winner. Oh well, at least Airtight Games are taking some baby steps and know what to do next time!
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