Game: "Dark Sector"
System: Xbox 360
Published by: Other
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: Remember Krull? Remember how the hero in that movie had a magic glaive? Well Dark Sector is your chance to try your hand at a little glaive work of your own.
Therein, you play Hayden Tenno, a guy with some kind of covert ops background who, after being drummed out of service for some reason, is drawn back in by equally murky circumstances to stop a madman and his virus in fictional Soviet bloc country. There’s more to the story later in the game, but with no prologue in the game and no story in the manual, that’s about all you get in the way of exposition. Anyway, as you see on the cover, Hayden gets infected with a disease that gives him a wicked glaive and gradually chrome plates his entire body. Vengeance to follow.
The glaive itself is a fun weapon to use. Enemies are subject to location-sensitive damage, so a good glaive hit to the extremities will result in dismemberment with an appropriate amount of screaming. Later, you’ll gain the ability to give the glaive a much harder throw, resulting in decapitations and enemies chopped in half. Later still, you’ll gain the ability to guide the glaive via slow motion camera. And if you see a fire, or a sparking transformer, or some other such thing, you can capture that element to give your glaive tossing a little something extra. Indeed, you’ll really enjoy using the glaive in combination with a handful of other conventional guns to mow down the opposition. Or at least, you’ll enjoy it for a while.
The problem is that each of the game’s ten chapters tends to play out the same way: Hayden moves into a cover-filled area for a firefight, he slowly dispatches all the enemies by shooting or glaiving them when they pop up from behind their own cover, then he moves onto the next firefight area for more of the same. In between, and during the occasional boss battle, Hayden may be called upon to mix in some elemental damage, but even this change of pace is at best dull.
The game’s environments do little to stop the malaise from washing over you. The first chapter, for example, is grayscale. It may have been meant to be some kind of artsy “before” type shot, but it winds up being foreshadowing for the rest of the game. The following levels don’t get to be quite as bad as that, but in trying to establish a bleak tone for the game, you’re going to see a noticeable dip in the color variation. By the fourth chapter, the whole thing was starting to look like a big gray-brown smear.
Speaking of environments, the game is billed as horror-themed, and to that end, several horror mainstays have been cleverly worked into the game. The local population has been infected by the same virus as our hero, but instead of getting cool powerups, they’ve merely turned into greasy zombie-like creatures. That said, doesn’t it seem natural to have Hayden skulk through a graveyard where these “infected” pop up out of the ground? Doesn’t it also make sense to have him sneak through a decrepit mansion haunted filled with more “infected”? No, not really. Is it that scary when you can simply grab an Infected in a headlock and break their backs by simply hitting them once and then moving behind them? Again, not really.
Still, the game’s attempts to be in all sorts of different genres do prevent the game from slipping out of “mediocre” territory and into just plain “bad”. Combat is somewhat enjoyable, and boy is there a lot of it, but all the horrific elements the game throws at you (huge piles of body bags, pitch black zombie raids, etc) because, well, you’ve got a giant razor-sharp throwing start coming out of your hand. If one of the infected comes at you with an axe, you can simply chop off their axe arm and smash them in the face with their own weapon. It doesn’t help that the details of Hayden’s story remain unknown for such a long period of time, but as with graphics, a game’s story should always be considered after the actual gameplay. It’s too bad there isn’t a sufficient amount of good gameplay to distract you from all the crummy elements.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
|The gore level was pretty high, which led me to lots of exultant shouts of "oh my god, did you see that? I just cut his arm off while he was throwing a grenade from behind cover!" and the like.|
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