Review: Dark Sector
Another 360 FPS with a tacked-on gimmick?
Ever get that feeling of Deja-Vu when playing a game? This is not necessarily a negative comment as its no secret that Dark Sector borrows a few ideas from other games, be it the now standard regenerate-o-health (do young ‘uns even know what a health pack is?) from say Halo 2, the run and duck method of cover (thank god for all those perfectly shaped mounds of rubble) a la Gears of War and of course the now very common combat method of, having a bladed disk of death whose direction you can alter mid air and decapitate bad bastards with, also known as Xena’s Chakram (thanks Lurk). No?
Firstly I’m going to have a fair bit of difficulty explaining the story to you because after a full play through and all cut scenes watched I’m still not too sure of some minor facts, namely the name of my main man and where I am and what’s going on. His name is Kaiden or something (Hayden Tenno â€“ Wikipedia), who is on a mission to Russia (that’s accurate enough â€“ wikipedia), to stop some bad dude who wants to use a â€œzombie virusâ€ to take over the world (yeah I don’t care much by this point either â€“ Wikipedia). In the process your dude gets infected with said virus and rather than turning into said shambling infected (or later super powered infected) for some inexplicable reason the virus makes him all Bad-Ass and whatnot (well actually it was explained you just weren’t paying attention â€“ Wikipedia).
Don’t allow this abundance of negativity thus far put you off, it’s just that this story isn’t going to win any Oscars. Hayden develops a few nifty abilities, initially just the glaive but later on, controlling the glaive mid-air from a first person perspective, an energy based shield for returning bullets and brief invisibility. Added to Hayden’s penchant for gunplay (one rifle/shotgun and one pistol), he is pretty well equipped.
This is strictly linear run and gun. Enemies come in two main flavours, human and infected. Humans are 90% dudes with guns, 5% big badass armoured dudes, tough but easy to take out once you figure how, and 5% are men with shields – the worst and most cheap enemy ever who I still haven’t figured a really good way to take out (aside from later gained invisibility + finisher move).
The infected range from the vanilla â€œshamblingâ€ type, to the â€œfast dogâ€ type and the quite pleasing on the eye â€œbig bastard bossâ€ type. All pretty generic to be honest but all equal fun to decapitate, separate the torso of or just plain old cut their legs off. Boss battles however are chore some because rarely do you know the specific attack that will damage him or if your attacks are actually working.
As I mentioned before there is a strong deja-vu feel to the game and my brain kept on thinking of Resident Evil 4. From the music, to the noises the enemies make I thought about it on more than one occasion (the QTE boss fights won’t get a mention because quite frankly, everyone uses that these days). Also present is the similar and inconsistent enemy movements, one moment it’s the â€œdrunken man shuffleâ€ the next it’s the â€œangry chav sprintâ€. Aside from RE4 comparisons are the ALIEN ones, from the shiny shiny â€œinfectedâ€ to the â€œsecreted resin stuffâ€ which cover and blocks many of your paths.
One of the problems with the game is how unbalanced the enemies are to the weapons you use. At the start the soldiers are relatively daft and all too eager to be decapitated by your Glaive and the infected shuffle along and don’t mind loosing their limbs to a quick punch/finisher combo. I literally played through the first half of the game pretty much just doing this, then the game realised I was actually having too much fun and smacked me down for it.
There are two types of video games. The first are those that try something fun and different. The second are those that do their best to emulate the first. Dark Sector is the second kind, which is no bad thing until you play it longer than five minutes and find out how horribly shit it is. The game plays like an average first-person shooter, with a shitty tacked on gimmick that could have been so much more.
It tries desperately to be like a cross between Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War and fails miserably at both. No tension, no dramatic build up to new enemies and the boss battles are shit, confusing, boring and drag on like a bastard. I cant even recommend this for a rental because there are far better last-gen games that blow this garbage out of the waterâ€¦.
It’s a shame really. This could have been an amazing game, if the dev team had just overcame the urge to push it into that FPS-shaped hole in their building blocks and just focused on powering up the Glaive, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
Avoid if you know what’s good for you.
Secondary Score: 3/10
He (the self-aware AI in the disc) decided the enemies would shoot at me from great distances so that my Glaive would bounce off the â€œinvisible wallâ€ before reaching them. He made the infected all super fast runners making my close quarters glaive combat not strong enough. He even threw in armoured bad dudes with specific weak points that the glaive just isn’t quick enough to aim at. I was pretty much forced to solely use my guns at this point, which all in all wasn’t too bad as it did break things up a bitâ€¦ until I started burning through my ammo pretty quickly and with no ammo crates hand I had to go back to the glaive.
Like I said, the majority of the later enemies just are not designed to be taken down with the glaive. Bad game! But it did keep me thinking, so smart gameplay is what this ultimately requires, taking shots you know you can hit, looking for as many elemental power-ups as you can (set your glaive on fires, hit it off electrical sources, or handy icy liquid Nitrogen canisters lying around) and smart mid-air glaive control. Also it would have been nice to destroy more of the environment. Some cover is destroyed by the enemy shooting at you but most isn’t. It’s a pretty rigid game. Some lights in the game do flicker and spark, letting you know you can charge your glaive off of them, but it would have been nice to be able to shoot any light to make them spark and then charge your glaive or cause fires to spread with your glaive. Just an idea.
The game does get notice for its perfectly acceptable graphics, but I’m really struggling to define what good graphics are these days, not my thing you see and mega short load times get noticeable praise. If you’re after a competent shooter (all be it a pretty short and rigid one with tacked on multiplayer) I’d definitely give this one a rental, or wait for a price drop.
Besides how many other games give you a suit that looks suspiciously Guyver-esq (that’s one for the manga-geeks)