Dark Void review
MAN, this could've been cool!
There are some games out there that start off boring, then becomes fun, and then becomes a dust collector because there's absolutely nothing to do after the 6 or 8 hour long campaign. Dark Void defines this so goddamn well, that I'm surprised the developers even let this shit fly. It feels like they wanted to do a flight sim game with you as the rocketeer, but in an effort to be cool, they include the most half assed cover shooting *bleep*ing mechanics ever conceived, because hey, every game needs a generic mechanic that doesn't excel beyond the competition, but rather, slinks away to the back of the bus. This game had the potential to be a sleeper hit, but goddammit, all I got was jizz in my face! But hey. let's have the review do the talking for me!
Before World War 2 occurs, a cargo pilot by the name of William Augustus Grey is teleported to another world in the Bermuda Triangle where aliens essentially rule the world. The other humans work for the aliens in order to work their way back to Earth, and Will... well, wants back into Earth, too, so he aids some other humans in destroying the aliens. Yeah, the story isn't much to write home about, and the cutscenes don't grant it many favors. Nothing of much interest happened, the dialogue had no hooks, and the voice acting felt pretty mediocre, like they got into it, but not enough to make these mundane lines seem at least enjoyable, and you know what, this is a fairly good concept for B-rated voice acting... guess not.
At the start, you're slammed into a generic third person shooter scenario where you have to shoot enemy soldiers while behind cover LIKE EVERY OTHER *bleep*ING COVER SHOOTER EVER *bleep*ING MADE! Well, I won't let it bother me too much, but as you play through it, it feels like something that's been done more times than I care to count, and Dark Void doesn't exactly improve or even tie with the competition in this regard. I guess you can at least fire while ducking in cover, which is akin to a blind guy shooting up a school when he should be in a gun shop, and the platforming segments involving jumping up platforms like a black guy performing a slam dunk is fine, if boring. In fact, unless you've never played a game that's used a cover system before (see: Kill.Switch, Gears Of War and Uncharted), these third person shooting segments feel so *bleep*ing generic, that I could've sworn I put in the beta for most of these games, and if this is your first time playing anything of the sort, you'd probably think it's a boring and lame concept. By the way, just because you include vertical covering, doesn't mean you're improving shit. Seems fine, but that's it. In execution, it's about the same, only you can somewhat impersonate Sam Fisher by shooting without the alien knowing. Whoopee.
But then you get the rockets, and suddenly, the game actually feels fun! Now, the controls are a little tough to get used to, since you'll need to have split second reflexes with the right stick and the guns in order to fight off the alien forces without banging into walls, but once you get the hang of it, it's fun! Flying around while killing aliens during missions is just fun. Hell, it manages to make the third person shooter segments seem a bit more interesting, as you can hover and shoot, which is kind of cool, because you're at least using the rockets to your advantage, and you can also take down some enemies with your guns a bit easier, too. Not bad at all. If you enjoy flying around, doing some fancy maneovuers and shit to really *bleep* with the aliens, then you're definitely sane, because that's the best bit about this game.
It's not quite as fun as it could've been though, as there are times where you'll be flying around, doing these stupid ass protection mission! There is often way too much shit going on to really pay attention to what you're meant to actually protect! There's always something shooting you, there's always something trying to butt*bleep* you off course, there's always some fat American on your back, and there's always a gang of monkeys throwing their feces at you! Well, that might be a bit exaggerative, but there's often enough going on to distract you long enough to get you off course while eliminating them; because you don't last too long, especially on the higher difficulty levels, you'll want to get rid of anything shooting you. Once you're dead, you have to start that mission again, and it's going to piss you off, that's for sure!
On the topic of missions, you'll also be sent on missions where you have to disable some alien technology, and missions where you... I think just kill a bunch of alien soldiers in the air. I don't know, the missions pretty much started to run together at some point, with some putting emphasis on flying, and some on running. Basically, if you preferred the flying over the third person shooting - with or without the rockets - then prepare to only be satisfied 34% of the time, because the designers thought that they'd have you going through corridors to do missions in. Pah, I prefer dogfights over fights taking place in tight corridors, and I'm sure a lot of people do, even if you have the ability to hover about to sneak attack snipers, although they have found a way to try and divert your attention away from the missions...
Encounters with bigger enemies and bosses are pretty bland. What you have to do is get on the right parts and then press the button that flashes on the screen. And... that's about it. Oh, and there are points where you also have to shoot them down. But really, each of the fights are the exact same monotonous bullshit over and over again with a different physical form, but this never becomes a joy or anything. When you kill a boss, it's like "eh", because they're all non-descript and, when you think about it, pretty lame. You also have to do this when you want to hijack a UFO while flying in this dimension, but I suppose that's fair enough.
I suppose what wrecks the game as a whole is the weak enemy AI. All they know how to do is run, because it seems that they can't really shoot or cover to save their lives. Their aim is either picture perfect, or something that'd make you mistake them for Stormtroopers, which is terrible AI programming at its finest. One or the other, thanks, becasue even crap like Kane And Lynch 2 manages consistent aiming for its otherwise crap AI. Why couldn't this game do it?
So yeah, this game isn't doing so well where it counts. The graphics aren't doing much better, either. They look pretty mediocre, with some washed out colors that become sleep inducing as you gaze into them, though the textures aren't that bad, and the actual designs, although generic, especially with the aliens, isn't too bad, either. Honestly speaking, there's not much to the graphics, and it's especially frustrating when there's some screen tearing and lag every now and again - poor design, folks! The soundtrack, on the other hand, is pretty *bleep*ing awesome. Directed by the same guy who does the soundtrack for Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 series) and played by a hell of a lot of people, the songs manage to convey the correct emotions for the right moments, and almost manages to draw you into the game. It's a shame that there are some audio cuts during dogfights, though, but that's nitpicking, so disregard, I guess. Either way, excellent soundtrack, and I only wish the rest of the game was this good...
Dark Void has fun moments. It's just that the first couple of hours sucked, a few missions in the rocket sucked, the boss battles sucked, and there is no replay value unless you actually care about getting achievements more than actually playing the game. Oh, the music is excellent, most of the rocket gameplay is fun yet a bit tricky to get the hang of, and the graphics aren't half bad either, but god *bleep*ing damn, if a game has terrible boss battles, lame third person shooter moments that have seen batter days in other cover based third person shooters and shit all replay value, there's almost no point in buying or even renting this game. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm waiting for a good rocketeer game.
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