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Denny Markovic
27 Jan, 2010

Dark Void Review

PS3 Review | Take flight or crash and burn?
Dark Void is an interesting game because it was actually born several years before its 2010 release. Initially, Capcom wanted it to be a dual-screen platforming adventure for arcades, but it was eventually put away in some deep and dark vault where all of Capcom's unfinished projects reside. Let’s just call it a 'Void' for terrible pun's sake. So after several years of laying dormant, Capcom have finally shown off and released Dark Void, both in its 2D dual-screen platforming form for the DS, and a new, 3D action game version for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3, developed by Airtight Games. But was the 3D transition worth doing? Well, it’s a bit of a yes, and a little bit of a no, as Dark Void doesn’t have anything particularly wrong with it, but it’s nothing to go screaming home about either.

To set the scene, Dark Void puts you in the role of Will, voiced by super awesome and super common Nolan North (who’s most well known as Drake from Uncharted), and you and your companion Ava are thrown into another dimension called the Void. It's a place only reachable through certain portals on Earth, with the one you passed through being the Bermuda Triangle. You find that the Void is home to the Watchers, an Extra Terrestrial race that at some stage enslaved mankind, but are now stuck in the Void and are planning to get out. Considering the sheer convenience of your appearance, the humans residing in the Void take you in as you are apparently part of some prophecy. And so, off you go on an epic adventure to stop the Watchers from enslaving mankind again.

The narrative behind the story is fine for a while, but as the game passes it eventually starts to lose focus and you stop caring about it much, if not at all. It’s your fairly typical dosage of chosen one hero killing lots of enemies and friends dying in your arms and whatnot, except in Dark Void it’s not told with much creativity and comes off as a little random.

Coneheads: The later years.

Coneheads: The later years.
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That being said though, the gameplay tends to redeem the story... somewhat. To elaborate, Dark Void practically copies and pastes Gears of War mechanics. It goes for the cover and shoot, melee stuff and blind fire gameplay setup, which to put bluntly, is nowhere near as well executed as Gears. The cover system can be a little inaccurate sometimes, and unless you’ve upgraded the weapons you use, you’ll be blowing out entire clips of bullets into enemies faces before they go down. It’s a little frustrating sometimes as you feel like you’re firing pellets at enemies, but assuming you upgrade your main weapons and keep using them, you shouldn’t have much of a problem, particularly considering that the AI is sometimes a little too dense for its own good. Enemies sometimes get caught up in cover or just stand there allowing you to inject hot plasma into their faces without much effort, but when they work they can be a decent bunch.

Thankfully, the cover system isn’t exactly like Gears of War though, because it also goes into vertical cover. What we mean by that is there’ll be moments where you’re climbing up cliffsides and such, and you’ll be popping shots and taking cover there too. It’s essentially the cover system just going up rather than forward, but it’s a nice mix when it happens, and can also pose a challenge when throwing grenades. It can lead to some amusing results.

The best bit about the gameplay however, are the flight mechanics. Soon after you grab a jetpack early on in the game, you can transition seamlessly from 3rd person cover-shooter to a fully fledged flight sim, and it’s a riot when it happens. Airtight Games were the masterminds behind the Crimson Skies games back on the Xbox, so their ability to create some fairly strong flight mechanics is certainly evident. The controls are fairly smooth when flying around and you can pull off many air manoeuvres such as U-turns and barrel rolls, though most of the time they’re somewhat useless. It’s a good amount of fun and easily the strongest aspect of the game, particularly because you can hijack enemy ships in mid air (which is done by a Quick Time Event, naturally), so air combat can suddenly become a little more diverse with the random assortment of ships that you can steal.

DOM I NEED COV--oh wait.

DOM I NEED COV--oh wait.
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The flight aspect isn’t free of its own problems, though it’s more from a balance perspective than anything. Enemies can sometimes be a right pain to hit and at points take a lot of damage before they go down, and dying is an insanely easy feat while in the air, as sometimes so much as rubbing the tip of your knee on a wall or enemy can knock you into the stratosphere and kill you. Of course, because it makes complete sense to do so. Difficulty spikes tend to happen later on in the game too, where you’ll have to fight about a billion ships before getting through an area while defending something, and considering friendly ships are as about as intelligent as oranges rolling down a hill, this can lead to some frustrating retries. It still manages to be pretty fun most of the time, but occasionally you might hit into a wall and yell at your screen because it sucks.

On the visual and aural side of things, Dark Void really hasn't got much going for it apart from a pretty cool soundtrack and Nolan North, because everyone knows he’s awesome. The game runs on Unreal Engine 3 and though it has some nice use of lighting effects in outdoor sections and such, the overall look is pretty generic, and also lacks the technical eye-candy to wow you in any way at all. Some animations look pretty nice, particularly the flight animations with your nifty little jetpack, but otherwise there’s nothing here that's memorable. Audio wise, sound effects and such do their job appropriately but with weakly executed surround sound. This is a little disappointing as the implementation could’ve worked wonders on immersion factor. Some sounds tend to loop for a few seconds before finally shutting up, so it’s not exactly bug free either. But as we said earlier, the soundtrack is quite nice and certainly adds a lot to the game.

Dark Void is the kind of game that is solid in most areas, has nothing majorly wrong with it, but it’s so utterly average that it’s extremely hard to recommend to anyone. The single player campaign is only about 6-10 hours long as well, and once you’re done with that you’ve not much else to look forward to apart from some challenges and such. We give Airtight Games credit for making an extremely nice blend between 3rd person and flight sim, but apart from this, if Dark Void was given a bigger budget, some more polish and extra features, it could’ve been a much better game than what it is now. Which, in the end, is incredibly average.
The Score
Dark Void is perhaps worthy of a rental or a bargain price purchase, but apart from this there's nothing here that's inspired enough to entice you. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Dark Void Content

Take a peek at the Dark Void
10 Jan, 2009 Try not to look down.
PALGN Weekly Releases - 18/01/10
18 Jan, 2010 Darkness looms.
Alone in the Dark Review
25 Jul, 2008 Burning brightly, or left in the dark?
2 Comments
4 years ago
Did anybody ever expect much from this title?

I played the demo and after that have no desire to consume any more of it. Sir I am full!!!
4 years ago
Dark Void is perhaps worthy of a rental or a bargain price purchase, but apart from this there's nothing here that's inspired enough to entice you.

^

sounds like a 4.5/10 game if you ask me!
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  21/01/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

Read more...
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