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Review - Dark Void

Dark Void (360)



With all the high-profile games hitting shelves this first quarter it may be easy to miss Capcom's latest IP, Dark Void. However, Capcom titles usually don't slip past me (since I have somewhat of a soft-spot for the developer) so I was ready to get my hands on the third-person shooter even though my expectations weren't as sky high as the title's jet-pack-equipped-protagonist.

The hook of Dark Void is exactly the aforementioned: jet-packs. Players' will take on the role of William Grey; a rough and tumble pilot who is sucked into "the void" while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. Will meets with the famed Nikola Tesla and a group of survivors who have also fallen into the void and are in a constant struggle with an alien force known as "the watchers." Plot-wise, the title is fairly standard (complete with love interest) although it does have it's moments of intrigue. What the plot does nicely, though, is set the character up for some interesting variations on the average third-person shooter.
Gravity is for losers.

In fact, Dark Void plays out like a hybrid between a third person shooter and a flight-simulator/aerial combat title. Game-play consists of taking cover and popping up to shoot aliens, flying around with the jet-pack or in hi-jacked UFOs, and a vertigo-inducing twist where the jet-pack allows you to take vertical cover. While the concept is neat, the execution isn't too revolutionary but it works. Alongside the jet-pack, Will picks up a handful of interesting weapons that can each be upgraded twice using points collected from downed enemies.

While the game-play holds up nicely, Dark Void stutters slightly on the graphical front. Character and alien art aren't bad, and locations look nice enough but there is certainly a level of high polish seen in other games that's missing here. Some of the character animations (especially watching Will's love interest run hilariously awkwardly in the opening level) are definitely rough, while others, such as Will's flight animations are well executed. In the end the mix-bag graphics and animations sort of counter-act each other.
Don't you shoot that blue s&#t at me!

A light in this dark void though is certainly another stellar performance from veteran voice actor Nolan North (who now seems to be THE voice of video games with Mark Hamill chasing behind quickly) as well as competent voice-work from the supporting cast. The action on-screen is also accented greatly by an above par orchestral score composed by Battlestar Galactica's Bear McCreary. Pulling up the rear on the sound design however are a few less than stellar sound effects, but they ultimately don't detract from the other work.
Oh Nolan North, what would gamers do without you.

The unfortunate killer of Dark Void is an ultimate lack of content. While there are collectables and upgradeable weapons there isn't too much other incentive to keep playing - with the campaign being the only option. The story isn't exactly short, but with so many games offering tens of hours of campaign or thorough multi-player aspects Dark Void actually ends up seeming a bit devoid of lasting-value.
All of the jet-packs functions can be used whenever it's strapped to your pack. Enabling flight mode in a small corridor probably isn't a good call though unless you want to end up as a splatter.

The Final Verdict:



Pros:

  1. Solid game-play

  • Nice mix of 3rd person gun-play and flight-mechanics

  • Jet-packs

  • Nolan North and Bear McCreary provide reasons to crank the volume

  • Vertical cover is interesting



Cons:

  1. Graphically nothing special.

  • Enemy character designs are repeated often.

  • No multi-player or extra content outside of one or possible two play-throughs of the main campaign.

  • Ultimately forgettable characters and plot.



The Score:


Presentation/Concept: 6/10
Music/Sound: 8/10
Graphics: 6/10
Value: 5/10
Game-play: 7/10

Overall: 6/10

Conclusion:
Capcom will remain one of the developers I follow but Dark Void was certainly lacking in content and ultimate polish. The title is in no way bad, and if you've the time I'd suggest renting it and taking the jet-pack for a spin, but with so many other titles vying for play-time Dark Void seems destined to fall into the "dark void" of mediocrity.

~Review by Please Reconnect Controller
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