Dark Sector Review – Coolest. Game. Ever.

Dark Sector

D3, Digital Extremes

Ps3, Xbox 360

Dark Sector is possibly the coolest game to come out yet this year. That doesn’t necessarily make it the best game, but it’s a guarantee that a game where you control a superhuman, and battle men with guns, as well as monsters has more than a few merits.

In Dark Sector, you control US Super Cool Secret Agent Hayden Tenno, and your mission is to stop a bunch of terrorists from unleashing an evil disease upon the world. Early on, Hayden is infected with a “special” form of the disease, where he begins to turn to metal and transform. One of the awesomest coolest badass parts about this game is the glaive. This is a 3 sided blade that grows out of Hayden’s hand, and he can throw it like a boomerang slicing and dicing his way to justice. Hayden also experiences weird changes that allow him to become invisible, and repel bullets. Invincibility may or may not be in the mix as well. All that I can say, is that Hayden is one powerful mofo, and he’s looking to kill anything and anyone in his path.

Now, that, being the basis for the story, you’d expect something a little more than what is on the table. The story in Dark Sector makes sense, but large portions of the game go by with absolutely no storytelling whatsoever. You’ll be in the sewer, or in a church, and you’ll have absolutely no clue what you’re doing there. At the end of the game, it leaves you unsatisfied. The 10 hour mark is long enough to have a deep twisty story, and there is nothing like that in this game.

Also, with the exception of Hayden, none of the characters are developed. There’s this old man, that’s a large part of the story, but half of people won’t even catch his name, and Hayden’s “friend??” whom he may know from his past, although it’s never said, is also a large part of the equation. It would’ve definitely helped out if the characters were deeper than they are.

Dark Sector consists of 10 chapters, with some of them taking an hour and a half, to some lasting just 20 minutes. Combined, everything comes together at about 9 or 10 hours, which is fairly lengthy by today’s standards. You’ll cover plenty of ground when the game is finished. Most levels are pretty wide open, yet most of the action will occur in tight corridors, with seemingly endless intelligent enemies. Hayden can kill them in many different ways.

Dark Sector utilizes a cover system, similar to the one in Gears of War. By pressing the bottom face button, you can press up against a wall. This works pretty well, although it does have a number of flaws. The inability to blind fire can make firefights frustrating, especially when you are near death. The only way to come off of a wall, is to roll away, or stop and slowly walk directly away from the cover. This is pretty annoying considering that everything is going at such a brisk pace. Also, it isn’t completely clear what is cover, and what is scenery. Sometimes, you will try to take cover on something, but Hayden will just roll into it, and you could actually get killed over and over before figuring out you can’t take cover on that object. The cover system works, but it could’ve been polished much more than it is.

When you are in cover, Hayden can kill lots. Using the glaive, Hayden can throw it a certain distance, and slice anything. When you hit a human with the glaive, he will scream all sorts of obscenities, and it’s always great to hear what their last words are. There’s also something called aftertouch, where wither using the right stick on the 360, or SIXAXIS on the Ps3, you can control the glaive in slow motion, and guide it into throats, or groins, or shins. Anything you wish. Aftertouch is also needed for some puzzles, such as hitting a lever or button that is unreachable. There is a variety of power throws, and the glaive can be set on fire. It’s pretty awesome, and let’s just say that you’ll have a lot of fun figuring it all out.

You can’t always use the glaive, unfortunately, and that’s why there is a small arsenal of weapons available to your disposal. You’ll always have your handy dandy pistol, which you can use in unison with the glaive, so you can slice, and then get the final blow with a headshot. There’s also a variety of shotguns (useful with zombies), and assault rifles. For those occasions when a helicopter is on your tail, there is a rocket launcher, with lock on capabilities. Aiming is pretty god, although it could’ve been a bit faster. Overall, shooting is pretty average, but the amount of blood in the game makes it above average. You’ll have a great time blasting things with your guns.

There is a market system, called the Black Market, where you can purchase new weapons using money you find. Here, you can also place weapons in a locker, since you can only hold 2 at a time. It’s similar to the merchant system in Resident Evil 4, considering that the merchant is once again, a scary old guy with a raspy voice.

There are two vehicle sections, that are a total blast. You have rockets, and a chain gun, and you just obliterate anything that comes into view. What’s an action game without vehicle sections? There are a few turrets in the game, but none of them work very well, and it makes the game feel like a mediocre first person shooter, when really, it’s a brutal third person acton game.

In addition to the 10 hour single player game, are two fun multiplayer modes. Infection is when there is a certain amount of players, and one of them is Hayden. Hayden has to kill everyone he can, and the only way to become Hayden is to kill him. It’s not so much fun when you’re a guard, but when you become Hayden, it can be a blast. Epidemic is when there are two teams, each of which have one Hayden, and you have to kill the other team’s Hayden. Again, when you kill the other team’s Hayden, you become the Hayden on your team. New players will have a rough time, but after about half an hour, you’ll get the hang of it. Multiplayer is a little shallow, but it will eat up a few hours of your time.

The level design has a bit of what I like to call “Half Life 2 Sydrome”. This is when after all the action is finished, you’re left with an empty room, with no objectives list or radar, and you have no idea where to go. It’s usually a simple puzzle or closed door, but when you miss wide open hallways, then you know there’s a problem. It’s a big nuisance, and is very frustrating, and puts you in a crappy mood most of the time.

What makes up for that, is the theme of the game. Dark Sector has plenty of horror moments. Either in a dark sewer, blasting zombies, or walking through a quiet dark abandoned hospital, the level of immersion is very high, and puts you in the zone to keep pushing forward.

When an enemy is near death, or when you are right behind them, you can perform a finisher. This is very similar to Assassin’s Creed, where the camera zooms in, and you just mutilate the guy. And I mean MUTILATE. Hayden will cuts heads off, and impale zombies, and there’s blood everywhere. Maybe this is why it was banned in Australia.

Dark Sector has great presentation. The voice acting is near flawless, and the musical score is pretty good. The sound effects made by monsters, and when guards are split in half are great. What sets this game apart from other titles is how great it is graphically. Every texture is very sharp and clean, and character models are just as good. However, any lack of artistic presence is a little disappointing, but that doesn’t take away from how great the game looks, it just makes everything gray.

Overall, Dark Sector is highly recommended from me. It’s not a must buy, but you do need to play it. It’s a brutal, fun, third person shooter that has lots going for it. A lengthy single player experience, and fun multiplayer make it worth your while. Unfortunately, a floppy cover system and Half Life 2 syndrome can piss you off. Truth is, that you won’t find anything more bloody than Dark Sector this generation. Give it a shot.

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~ by smithbubbajones on April 7, 2008.

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