Published on January 27th, 2010 | by prime0
Dark Void – Review
Summary: There’s a great game bursting to get out here
There’s a point about two hours into Dark Void that everything begins to make sense. It’s like the clouds have parted, and the real game is there, shining through and begging to be enjoyed. And then, just as soon as it came, it goes again. Dark Void – why won’t you just let us fly?
The moment in question sees our hero William Augustus Grey (good name) finally take to the skies in his Tesla-powered Jet pack, struggling to get to grips with its power before soaring into the blue with grace and style. And that’s not the best bit. In the distance, you can see a shiny tower, seemingly innocently sitting in the background. Until you fly towards it and realize it’s a fully functioning space base. It’s absolutely massive, and you can land on it and take out all the enemies inside. Genuinely astonishing.
Why oh why oh why, then does it all start so badly? After a plane crash – or some other such piece of plot convenience – William and his female ‘friend’ Eva are forced to march through the jungle in an abortive attempt at copying the PS3’s Uncharted. It’s an ugly, shoddy third-person cover shooter through a cardboard cut-out jungle. The shooting is loose, the enemies uninspiring robot things, and even though it has Nate Drake himself, Mr. Nolan North, doing the voice work, the dialogue just doesn’t have the same sort of snap as the PS3 game.
If Dark Void continued like this, it would be a disaster. Thankfully, things get a bit more interesting when it introduces its rather odd vertical cover system. Basically, William can hang over cliff edges and use them as useful cover. Mind you, it makes little difference, as you’re still popping and shooting, but at least it’s unique.
Only when all of the game’s elements come together is it really a success. By chapter two, you’re into the titular Void, a place where the traditional architectural and structural rules of Earth don’t necessarily apply, so the designers can have more fun creating interesting spaces to navigate. When you’re freed up to fly, hover and use the various forms of combat all together, Dark Void is a triumph, a truly original take on the genre that makes you feel like the Rocketeer himself. Whether you’re taking down enemy ships by leaping on them and assassinating their pilots, or landing on a cliff and jumping upwards through cover, there’s nothing like it.
Such a shame then, that so much of the game is hemmed in, forcing you to play it as a fairly standard third-person cover shooter with a few frills. The actual blasting does improve after the first chapter as you upgrade your weapons and the range of robot enemy things increases, but when the engine literally allows for such a vast playing field, being fenced in is mightily frustrating.
So, not a Capcom classic then, but a more-than-solid effort. There’s a great game in Dark Void bursting to get out, and perhaps with more money or time it could have fulfilled its sizable potential. As it is, though, it’ll have to go down as a missed opportunity, albeit one peppered with sheer aeronautical brilliance. Maybe next time.