|Review By: Bradley Beeck
Will, a cargo pilots, finds himself thrust into the Void following a job from his old girlfriend, Ava. There he discovers a world where the Watchers rule, a mysterious alien race which the surviving humans struggle against or serve.
Dark Void sounds like a good game concept on paper; a man with a jet pack fights against aliens. Even Brad Pittís production company was sold on the prospect of turning it into a movie. Unfortunately the execution is so woeful you begin to think itís actually a really bad idea.
Dark Void is basically a cover based shooter with a slight difference, thanks to the jet pack. In addition to the Gears of War style covering, players can now ascend the sides of cliffs performing vertical cover. The way it works is there are platforms jutting out from the sides of towers and cliffs the character jumps to and holds onto to. However after a few moments of doing this your brain adjusts and you realize itís exactly the same as before; vertical becomes the new horizontal.
The jetpack works how it should, hovering and flying, but it doesnít work how you really want it to. When itís in hover mode you canít fly vertically very far, and itís mostly used to descend large distances. And when its flying mode is engaged it sends you careering off, frequently into a wall killing you. There are a few good moments with it but itís mostly a humdrum affair. A lot of this is due to the dog fighting sections youíre made to perform in flying mode. These parts drag on for way too long, because there are too many enemies and itís too hard to hit them. The only weapon you have available during flying mode is machine guns (I didnít get the missile upgrade till the final boss), which is very difficult to hit anything with as anyone whoís played a flight sim will tell you. Itís made even more so by a crosshair thatís borderline invisible, jerky character movements, and enemies who can change direction on the spot and have no obvious front or back being saucer shaped.
While weíre on the subject of enemies, theyíre boring. Aliens in robotic suits, ala Independence Day only less interesting, donít make for compelling cannon fodder. Thereís much less impact seeing a robot explode then there is mincing some Locust with blood splattering out in Gears of War, for example. Their AI is not always on the ball either, occasionally ignoring you or spending too long under cover, making you wait for them. Thereís a decent selection of weapons available, each can be upgraded with a few options along with the jetpack. The assault rifle was my main stay weapon because it has an explosive bullets upgrade. It also sounds extremely like the Lancer from, what else but, Gears of War.
The enemies arenít the only dull aspect of Dark Void. The missions are as well because everything is repeated multiple times. You never just destroy one shield generator, you destroy two. Theyíre stretched out and go for too long, much like the dog fighting sections. As bad as this sounds whatís worse is the cutscenes, theyíre appallingly bad, just dreadful. Fragmented, lifeless, incomprehensible, they explain nothing, and they build up nothing. It tries so desperately to be a porn corn action flick but instead, the whole game really, comes across as an incredibly B grade Uncharted.
Graphically, Dark Void has some highpoints. The godrays and skymaps are great, producing some beautiful scenes such as the final boss fight. However this comes to naught because the cutscenes are terrible. Theyíre stilted, lifeless, and for some reason donít look smooth. I donít know if itís a frame rate issue, which occurs during the game a few times, or what but they donít look right. Musically itís decent but the main theme, while having some pleasant guitar sections, has a really irritating and off putting bass line.
I think Dark Void can be adequately summoned up by my reaction after every play session: ďUh. This game sucksĒ. Itís really boring, the story is terrible and the mechanics are derivative. The missions are also dull, going for too long and repeating the same activities multiple times. You know Lux Pain was a terribly translated game, but even then I cared about the characters and was compelled to finish it because of that. I had fun playing it, which is something that canít be said about Dark Void.