Darkwatch: Curse of the West review

The good:

-Unique storyline
-Good weapons
-Branching storyline
-Enemies are pretty cool
-Melee attacks are highly satisfying
-Non-stop action from start to finish
-Third-person segments

The bad:

-Lack of replayability
-Lack of challenge
-All too short
-New ideas not integral enough


Darkwatch unfortunately just falls short of being a great first-person shooter. It does a lot of things right, but its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness - it's a no-brainer shooter, and it's all over too soon.

Unlike most FPSs, enemies in Darkwatch will generally not shoot you. Instead, you'll be facing huge numbers of crazy undead warriors, running towards you armed with crooked blades and all manners of nasty weaponry. Although this is very cool for a while, it soon becomes all too easy, and the reality kicks in that all you've been doing is shooting moving targets while under practically no threat yourself. The enemies that do shoot at you are generally poor shots, and their AI is far from spectacular.

However, this flaw is saved somewhat thanks to the excellent melee attacks which blend so well into the game. The games main weapon is the Redeemer - an extremely cool revolver, that when you hold down R1 can be fanned Western style. However, it really comes into it's own in close quarters, as do all the weapons. A press of square will perform a stylish melee attack with the extra cool blade at the end of your gun. The Redeemers attack results in him spinning his gun around, taking of limbs of anybody foolish enough to cross your path. Indeed, it is endlessly satisfying to remove both arms of a bog-standard skeleton warrior by shooting, before whipping off his head with a twirl of your redeemer.

If you find yourself getting tired of this after a while, you'll soon be suprised, as the game thrusts you into a third-person segment. An excellent one of these involves blowing up a train (and it's exclusive to the PS2!) while riding along on your faithful steed. However, not all new ideas were implemented as well. The game also uses a good/evil storyline, where you have the ability at certain points to choose either path. At the end of the day, it makes little difference (apart from near the very end) and the good/evil magic powers you get are weak and virtually useless, to put it bluntly. The storyline otherwise is...well, unique is the best word for it. You play Jericho Cross, an outlaw who when robbing a train just so happens to release a vampire and get bit by him, making him half-vampire as well. The storyline basically consists of you trying to get revenge on this vampire (Lazarus) while trying to stop yourself from being overcome by your new found vampiric tendencies.

Along the way you'll encounter Lazarus' minions, who range from skeleton type warriors, to banshees and even a large, fat mat wielding a machete. I'm serious. The enemies are at least entertaining and well animated, and can provide a challenge when there are lots of them. However, generally speaking, they're very easy to deal with. You won't have much time to ponder this though, as the game thrusts you straight into the action from the word go. There are very few quiet periods in the game, and the guns that you recieve along the way are all nice and loud - something which many FPS games seem to forget about these days.

Unfortunately, after a mere 6-9 hours or so, the game is over. A San Andreas style epic it is not, and you do feel somewhat let-down by the abrupt end portion of the game. What is there to do after you've completed the game? Not much. There is a bog-standard two-player death-match, as well as a rather poor two-player game involving collecting clouds of blood. However, the PS2 version of the game offers a cooperative play through the story mode, which should provide a good enough reason to play through the game one more time. But once it's over a second time, there is little reason to even pop in the disc again.

If you do pop in the disc again, it'll be to remind yourself how much fun you had the first time, and how it was all over far too soon.

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