Review: Dark Void
Dark Void is a game that hyped itself up with its vertical combat and aerial combat, which made it out to be quite an interesting and unique third person shooter. However, the execution wasn't all that great.
- Worth The Time?No, not particularly.
- Things LovedThere are some good concepts, Jetpack combat can be fun, some great soundtracks.
- Things HatedIt's extremely short and there's nothing to come back to once you're done, the game's plot is convoluted and difficult to follow, the combat is generic and weak compared to other games in the genre, it starts to feel like a chore to play, plenty of gameplay flaws, there's a lack of variety, it feels cheap and uninspired throughout, under par graphics, it suffers from various glitches.
- RecommendationI wouldn't recommend this game to anyone. At best, it can pass an afternoon for you, but it won't exactly be good entertainment. You're much better off buying better shooters.
- Name: Dark Void
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Airtight Games
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: R350 (PC), R540 (PS3, 360)
- Reviewed On: PC
As far as the story goes, it’s entirely convoluted and near impossible to follow. In the game you play as a guy named Will, a cargo pilot who was “dishonourably discharged” from service for something you’re not told, and is now carrying out courier missions. Very early in the game, you cross paths with a woman named Ava, who is an old friend of Will’s. From there, you end up flying her somewhere, only to crash land in the Bermuda Triangle. This is where the plot goes bonkers, because after a while of moving through the Bermua Triangle you end up being teleported to another dimension, where you find yourself up against aliens and robots and a resistence group to combat them. You are presented with a jetpack and are told to start killing stuff. If I explain the plot any further my brain is only going to explode from how convoluted and senseless it is, so I’m going to stop right here.
The point is that the plot is never explained to you in any way that you can follow or understand. It’s incredibly confusing, so chances are you’ll end up giving up on the story and attempting to enjoy the action instead. There are journals scattered around the game world which serve to fill in some of the backstory, but these really don’t help, especially since the main plot is already so twisted and confusing. Unfortunately, the action part is going to end up frustrating you as well. Dark Void is a third person shooter that prided itself on its vertical, aerial and jetpack combat. However, all three, despite being good concepts, are heavily flawed and only explored to the bare minimum, making the game very shallow. The game has quite a long list of flaws, so let’s start from the bottom, literally, and work our way up – starting with the ground combat.
The combat in Dark Void is something you’ll get over after the first 30 minutes of the game, because it’s so damn shallow and repetitive that soon enough you’ll be praying for each section to end – and soon after that for the entire game to end. To sum up the objective of the game, Dark Void is a linear third person shooter that requires you to endlessly shoot stuff. There are aerial sections in the game that allow you much more movement and space, but the game remains linear, as those larger environments are simply giving you more freedom of movement. That about sums up the idea of the gameplay at its deepest level. On the ground, you’re able to do what you’d expect from any third person shooter, which is fire your gun, take cover and melee. In Dark Void, all three are equipped with problems.
Firstly, the first two guns you encounter in the game, the standard machine guns for the humans and aliens, are so accurate and strong that there really isn’t any reason to use anything else – and my point is only further illustrated when taking into account the aim assist. I say first “two” guns, because that’s the maximum number of weapons you’re allowed to carry. Oh, and you’re able to upgrade your weapons throughout the game, using an extremely shallow upgrade system, by collecting experience orbs, either from enemies or the environment, which only further powers up the first two machine guns. Even while taking cover, you will hardly ever need to pop out and shoot anyone, because blind firing is so accurate that it simply makes you dominate every ground battle. If you’re not into using your guns, you could try the whacking rambo method, which reminded me completely of Rogue Warrior, angering me enough to make me green. This “method”, so to speak, is simply charging into battle and pressing the melee button continuously to kill off everyone. While in close combat, you’re immune to all damage until you complete the melee attack, so the logical and lame thing to do is just melee everyone. However, there are so few melee animations, about three or four, that it becomes very old very quickly. Overall, the ground combat, at its best, is merely reminiscent of any generic third person shooter.
While on the ground, you’re able to use your jetpack to hover in the sky and boost yourself up into the air, or, if the environment is large enough to allow it, you’re able to fly, giving you access to the jetpack’s attached machine gun, which has unlimited ammo. While in a ground combat section, there isn’t any point to using your jetpack because of the methods I mentioned above, but while hovering in the air you’re able to shoot both your guns and throw grenades as normal. Initially, and throughout the game, the jetpack is a mixed bag. There are times when it can be real fun, and often enough times where it can frustrate you immensely. One of the irritating aspects is that while you’re in the air with your jetpack, hovering, you will slowly descend towards the ground. You can’t simply hang in the air and when you try to boost yourself up, your boost bar depletes so rapidly that you’ll find yourself going down again quite soon. There isn’t a great deal to do with the jetpack, I mean, you can’t even melee in the air, and there isn’t much to do in the game as a whole. It’s a very limited experience.
As far as the vertical combat goes, it’s in interesting concept, one that even be fun at times, but unfortunately it’s not without its problems. Naturally, vertical combat can go either up or down, usually depending on whether you need to get on top of something or to ground level. When it’s the former you’ll simply, at the press of a button, have to launch yourself up from ledge to ledge, firing at enemies or getting up under them and executing an instant kill melee attack. When going down, you’ll peek over the ledges, firing at any enemies below or to the side and, whenever you can, you’ll make your way down to the ground. It can be quite entertaining to fight in these sections, but the problem is that because of the way the camera transitions between vertical and ground views, it’s quite easy to get a headache or start feeling dizzy after a few minutes. The other problem is that the vertical combat sections can easily be overcome the same way as the ground combat, by simply blind firing at your enemies.
Finally, there are the aerial fights, where you’re able to freely fly using the jetpack, fly spaceships or hijack enemy UFOs. Had this been a good game, I would have said that this is quite naturally the highlight of the game, but since this isn’t, let me get down to telling you exactly what’s wrong with the aerial combat. For starters, in the beginning, it’s incredibly awkward and difficult to effectively control your jetpack, even more so on the PC version of the game. Eventually, you’ll get used to it, but it’s still not as smooth you’d have hoped. Also, the fights always manage to feel dragged out and frustrating, because all you’re able to do is fly around trying to blast at enemy structures and ships with your jetpack’s machine gun, but it can be quite irritating to get a lock on and take down your enemies. Most probably, you’ll end up just holding down the fire button, taking advantage of the unlimited ammo and no overheating factors, and hope that your bullets will hit their targets.
Alternatively, you can take control of ally spaceships, by the push of a button, which is good, or you can attempt to further irritate yourself by trying to hijack enemy spaceships. Hijacking one of these is done by the use of a very tedious quick time event, one which isn’t exactly quick. You’ll be forced to play an annoyingly long mini game where you have to dodge the ship’s fire, hang on when it tries to shake you off, and, all the while, try to pull off the control panel so you can get to the pilot and kill him. Once you get into the enemy ship, you’ll realise that the process you went through just wasn’t worth it, because of the time spent and the fact that their ships are not all that interesting and are exactly the same as your ally spaceships. Overall though these sections are just very limited, tedious and repetitive, like the whole game, so after you’ve played through the first few of these sections they’ll become a hectic chore.
Dark Void just screams below average in nearly all areas. It’s near impossible not to get over the really cheap feel of the game, and this is further worsened by the game’s graphics. They are really under par in comparison to what’s currently out there. The game makes use of the Unreal 3 engine, and it seemed to have utilised it to the bare minimum. On top of this, there are a number of glitches, both graphical and with the game. You’ll find yourself going through walls at times, randomly receiving a mission failure for no reason, although this is rare, or crashing into something unexpectedly when reloading from a checkpoint (after you died). Environments are ugly and bland, character models aren’t animated very well and the visuals are below average. The one positive point I can mention is that Dark Void really has some great sound tracks, which, on occasion, can manage to keep you playing somehow, above anything else.
There just isn’t much to say in Dark Void’s favour other than that it works and can be fun at times. However, nearly every aspect of the game will eventually feel like a chore, and you’ll be praying for the game to end soon enough. While various parts of this game seemingly take forever to complete, the entire game, which consists of three episodes, can be finished in one or two playthroughs, making it a very short experience. There is nothing to come back to once you’ve completed the main campaign, not that you’d want to, mind you, and as soon as you put down the controller or mouse you’ll forget this weak game ever existed.
In conclusion I’d suggest you steer clear of Dark Void. The game fails to bring anything good to the third person shooting genre and fails to make use of its great concepts. The execution is extremely flawed and Dark Void is, overall, just a poor game. The unfortunate part is that, even though the concepts are great, the game wouldn’t be good even if those concepts were executed better, and that’s because of the overall repetitive, lackluster and generic nature of the whole game. Dark Void is a game that would be in your best interest to avoid, and rather save up for the better games this year. Dark Void lacks quality, polish, variety and substance, making it ultimately a title not worth playing.