Dark Void Review: Into The Void

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After more than two years since it was announced, Capcom and Airtight Games are ready to take gamers into the void, Dark Void. The game caught the eyes of several due to its impressive aerial combat gameplay and the use of a jet pack. It’s now time to strap on that jet pack and blast off. To infinite and beyond, right? Wrong! Now I can’t go to Wal-Mart and buy a jet pack but I can imagine using a jet pack for the first time and thinking, “wow this is cool.” But after the first 30 minutes or so I’m sure most will say, “ok get me off this thing.” That theory can be applied to this game.

The story of Dark Void, ironically, takes place in the year 1938. I was not aware jet packs and robots were around in the 30’s but I digress. As World War II is on the verge of starting, aliens and their robot minions (The Watchers) are planning their own takeover. Not over a country but over humanity. Consequently, our hero, Will A. Grey and his former main squeeze, Ava, have crash landed their plane somewhere in The Bermuda Triangle, which eventually leads them into this place known as The Void. Equipped with the great Nikola Tesla’s jet-pack, you must now stop The Watchers, help survivors in the Void, and find Ava. Dark Void juggles a couple of plots, and the main one suffers because of it. The on and off romance subplot seems straight out of Uncharted 2, but this game has been in development for quite sometime, so maybe it’s just a mere coincidence. Plus, the characters aren’t intriguing enough for you to care about them nor even like them. The main campaign will take about seven hours to complete, and there’s absolutely no incentive to replay it again. If you need a story that moves you, then this won’t due.

G is for gameplay but in Dark Void, G is for generic. That’s only during the third-person shooter portions, which oddly enough I enjoyed more than anything. The first episode of Dark Void focuses mainly on the third-person shooter aspects of the game, which includes all the typical moves like melee and a cover system. All works the same and works good but why play this when you can play a more engaging third-person shooter. Once you finally obtain the jet pack, you can enter vertical cover which allows you to shoot enemies below or above certain platforms and comes in handy a few times. The Watchers can be killed with six of the different weapons available ranging from an assault rifle to a variation of The Watchers weaponry. Each gun can be upgraded twice but none are better or worse than the other. No gun, no problem. Melee attacks in Dark Void are cheap; the toughest enemy takes three melee attacks to die and the puny enemies take only one hit.

With that being said, lets get to the crème de la crème of Dark Void’s gameplay. The jet pack is what made you skeptical about this game and it’s the main highlight of this game. At any time during gameplay, you can choose to hoover or take off and fly. Hoovering in the air and shooting down on the enemy proves to be a great technique and fun at times. It comes to good use for tactical reasons like getting a better shot or flanking a turret gunner but there are very few moments in which tactics come into play. Dark Void also has a Star Wars vibe with aerial combat aspects of the game. During these aerial moments the controls change, from a third-person shooter to a flying game like Crimson Skies, which was developed by the core team at Airtight Games. The controls can be confusing for quite sometime but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. While up in the air you can also jump into ally ships or choose to hijack enemy UFO’s. None are proven to be stronger than the other but I found myself really tired of the jet pack so I would jump in a ship just because.

There are two key elements to the sound in Dark Void that make the game bearable. The first is you have Nolan North providing the voice of the lead character, Will. If you’re not familiar with Nolan North, he’s the voice of Drake in Uncharted. His delivery in this game is great but it might be a better idea if you don’t use the voice of Drake to voice a character so similar to Drake. Nolan North pretty much plays the same character here, although Drake’s lines are way better than Will’s. The second key element is the great score by Battlestar Galactica composer, Bear McCreary. I’ve never watched the show before but hs work in this game is pretty good for his first score in a videogame. The music compliments and fits the mood. I probably wouldn’t of noticed it much but due to a glitch that turned all the audio down with the exception of the score, I did.

In terms of graphics, Dark Void gets by with neither bad nor impressive graphics. Cutscenes are pretty well animated; Dark Void doesn’t try to go for the photo realistic look. You can also find blurry textures and the occasional texture pop-ins. The main gripe comes from a technical standpoint in which the frame rate drops during big battles, its not significant but it’s there and you’ll notice.

The wait for Dark Void was long and now that it’s here, it truly is a disappointment. There is very little fun to be had in this game. There’s this nostalgia in videogames for jet packs and chainsaws and honestly they hardly ever fulfill anything. Jet packs are the new chainsaws. Dark Void does not merit a $60 dollar purchase, although I’m certain it won’t stay at that price for long.

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