‘Dark Void’: Fight and flight
January 24, 2010
A friend asked what I was reviewing last weekend.
Reply: "A game where you fly around with a jetpack and shoot aliens in the Bermuda Triangle."
Response: Wide-eyed disbelief, then laughter.
The premise of "Dark Void" does sound a wee bit cheesy. And the some elements do feel a wee bit dated. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed the T-rated shooter, which was developed by Airtight Studios for Capcom.
You play as Will Grey, a hotshot pilot whose cargo plane gets sucked into the Bermuda Triangle. You end up in the Void, where aliens and surviving humans are locked in a struggle that could determine the fate of mankind.
The survivors have cobbled together an impressive array of gadgets and weaponry thanks to oddball scientist Nikola Tesla. In addition to your trusty assault rifle, you have access to weapons that disrupt gravity and that emit a powerful beam of electricity. However, the most useful item is your jetpack. This allows you to take to the air to flank opponents, take out flying saucers or simply get around.
Sure, other games have jetpacks, but the gizmo in "Dark Void" is very easy to use. And, when combined with an interesting "vertical cover" system, it definitely increases the game’s fun quotient. Many of the game’s environments contain a strong vertical element. The vertical cover system lets you lean over a ledge to shoot at enemies below. Or, if you’re using the jetpack, you can cling to the bottom of a ledge and shoot at enemies above.
The game combines ground and aerial combat seamlessly. You can strafe your foes at high speed, land to blast them with an energy weapon and then leap into the air and hover as you nail them with your assault rifle.
Pulling all this off is a breeze because the controls — for fighting, flying and taking cover — all work very smoothly.
However, this void definitely has a dark side.
The graphics are good, but not great. The surreal scenery is usually impressive but the character models are simply OK and animations are usually very wooden.
Despite their impressive technology, the enemies aren’t all that bright. They tend to leap around until you pick them off.
The action tends to get a bit repetitive — assault this alien installation, defend that survivor facility, dogfight those incoming flying saucers.
And the story has more than its fair share of holes, loose ends and irritating questions.
The final reaction: "Dark Void" can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t always soar.
Platforms: Xbox 360 (tested), PlayStation 3, PC
On the Web: www.darkvoidgame.com