Dark Void Review
Into the Void!
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 27th January 2010
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Release Date: 22nd January 2010
I like many gamers was really looking forward to Capcom's Dark Void, the game even made it into my most anticipated games list for 2010. However, the final product that has been delivered simply cannot live up to the great hype and expectations put on it and will sadly leave many disappointed.
Dark Void’s story is pretty vague to say the least. Set in 1938 the game places you in the role of Will SOMETHING, a pilot who finds himself transported to a strange world after flying over the Bermuda Triangle. After crash landing Will finds himself fighting robotic like creatures that are terrorising the human inhabitants and before he knows it he’s a fully fledged member of the resistance. The game offers very little back story or information from NPC’s and cut-scenes, story progression really isn’t helped by the fact the game leaps weeks ahead at a time, often placing you at the beginning of missions with no explanation of what’s happened in the lost time or what you’re suppose to be doing. Not only does this make the games story feel unfocused but also detaches you from the characters and really doesn’t immerse you in the role of Will. The end result is the game feels like you’re simply playing through a bunch of missions rather than fighting for a worthwhile cause.
Away from the story Dark Void serves up a real mixed bag, which sadly doesn’t really combine to make the game we all wanted. Firstly, ground combat which makes up a large portion of the game is mediocre at best. The games ground combat takes the cover and shoot approach that was executed so well in the Gears of War games. Sadly though Airtight Games has failed to capture the same intensity which makes it feel all pretty standard, offering the kind of gameplay we’ve seen in a dozen titles before, but to confound things further the game offers very little challenge. Enemies simply don’t put up a very good fight, there also seems to be some intermittent problems with the A.I with enemies often standing out in the open, seemingly unaware of your presence no matter how close you get.
Steps have been taken to make the ground combat aspect of the gameplay more diverse by combining it with a vertical aspect and also by allowing you to use your jetpack to hover and shoot. Unfortunately this ability to hover doesn’t really enrich the gameplay as the controls are awkward and somewhat cumbersome making it quite difficult to hit enemies and be effective in battle when utilising this ability. The vertical gameplay element fairs somewhat better, this adds a completely new dimension to Dark Void and sees you heading up generator cores, shafts and cliff faces as you do battle with enemies using ledges as cover. It’s extremely satisfying when you take an enemy out and the body drops past you to the floor. As good as the vertical gameplay aspect is, sadly it does have its problems, firstly advancing to quickly can result in enemies being left alive below you, this isn’t really so much of a problem in itself however the developers really haven’t made it easy for you to take care of enemies when this occurs and the game feels very awkward.
In terms of weapons Dark Void has a fairly limited selection available which are made up of the typical third person shooter mainstays. The game does include a weapons upgrade system, but this is basic at best and offers no real valuation. Other equipment is awarded to you in the typical action shooter manner and this includes a Rocketeer style helmet which is supposed to include advanced radar, however in my opinion all this helmet does is make a perfectly readable radar unreadable, yeah real advanced, thanks!
Dark Void is by far at its best when Will is in the air and flying around the game world, this can be extremely good fun and you are able to perform all kinds of manoeuvres, boost and brake. You don’t have the skies all to you self however, as a range of enemies attack in ships which you will have to do battle with. The game does offer support by allowing your resistance allies to take to the air in biplanes which you can commandeer, you can also hijack enemy craft to aid you in your fight. Again though, like many other aspects of the game the flying segments of Dark Void still have some flaws. Firstly, air battles go on far too long frankly because of the poor aiming control system the game offers which can make hitting any targets a task in itself. Also despite being able to seamlessly move from ground to air by firing up your jetpack at any time, the developers seem to have taken steps to limit its use by placing much of the games action in indoor facilities. All these flaws combined only serve to make Dark Void feel like a series of ideas that simply don’t meld, and almost make the game feel like playing through a series of small segments from different games rather than a cohesive playing experience, it’s a real mixed bag.
This mixed bag feeling also applies to the games visuals. The ground combat action has the typical gritty look of a third person shooter with nothing that really stands out. Once again the aerial aspect of Dark Void takes the plaudits here. With its movie like sheen it can be exceptional, with some brilliantly lighting and haze effects that really give a sense of depth, most notably on the Pc version of the game. It’s just a shame the game never gives you the chance to explore automatically turning you back if you stray to far from the action. Sound design is pretty unremarkable and the game voice acting really doesn’t help make the character adhere to you, often sounding forced and unnatural.
Dark Void is probably going to go down as one of the most disappointing titles of the year, after all of the expectation and hype. With a bit more time spent polishing and developing key elements and its story this could have become a “classic” as the potential is their for all to see, however in its current form it will sadly slip into the void of mediocrity that has claimed so many third person shooter in the past.
Review Score: 5/10
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