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Posted by eddierichards on Feb 3, 2010
Review: Dark Void – Capcom (PS3)

Review: Dark Void – Capcom (PS3)

De-void of goodness!!

When I first saw the video footage of this game, I was seriously impressed. I watched as the leading character soared through the skies with his trusty jetpack (Much like the Rocketeer movie), picking off  UFOs one-by-one with his guns, and even landing on them as they flew, to disable them. I loved how the character would cling to walls, and scale them whilst shooting away at bad guys, and watch them fall past you, to their deaths. The sense of freedom in the skies appealed to me. It looked awesome. It kind of reminded me of Starfox 64 battles, but sexed up with PS3 goodness. I was looking for that Starfox thrill again, however this game, as I quickly found out, did not fill that.. Void.

I eagerly opened its case and popped the disc in my PS3 (Desperately ignoring Capcom’s other recent attempt with the Bionic Commando revamp, mostly because I paid hard-earned money for this). It starts up, and I can’t wait. The title screen appears and I instantly get this sense of tranquillity. It all seems really moody; almost Metroid-like. No worries yet.

When the game starts you’re instantly thrown into battle (A flight Tutorial, really) against UFOs flying around you. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the graphics, but it all looked nice enough. Unfortunately, you soon notice that, A: Much like Starfox, you’re in a contained area, which your enemies seem to be able to fly in and out of at will, and B: The aiming is awful. It’s hard enough just to try to see the enemies even when using your radar, let alone try to shoot the bastards. As I hovered up there, and they flew around for fun, I began to miss Fox McCloud again. After some perseverance I get lucky and hit one with my stunning new tactic of constantly spraying ammo. This being the first chapter of the game, I ignored the worry creeping into my head.

Chapter 2 starts (I f***ing wish it hadn’t), and a movie sequence finds our hero, Will (and some chick named Ava – In other words, Indiana Jones & Lara Croft) crashing into the Bermuda Triangle in 1938 (there are World War references, but these seem superfluous to the storyline). The poor rendition of Starfox is quickly replaced with an ever poorer, shoddy, weak, basic, buggy, shite and simply second-rate version of Uncharted.
Gameplay now switches from the air, to land-based trekking, something the trailers ‘failed’ to show. You find yourself running through a jungle (of course) taking on robots in monotonously annoying shoot-outs as you attempt to hide behind scenery whilst being shot so much that you begin to think you are immortal. The enemies themselves are a robot race, called ‘Watchers’. They like to watch. You’ll notice this during every damn shoot-out, as they play ‘Peek-A-Boo’ from behind any tree or rock they can find and they certainly do a lot of watching because it takes a lot of fire-power to take them down. Don’t bother with head-shots either, as it makes no difference and to be honest, the aiming is so atrocious that you would be lucky to hit anywhere near their head!
The whole on-foot experience instantly feels very dated and poorly executed. On top of that it goes on for far too long and becomes highly frustrating. Especially when you DO die, as checkpoints will often put you right back in the middle of a gunfight, forcing you to run for cover and look like a scared little bitch. After dying once, I really wanted to switch my PS3 off.  I only really wanted to continue just to get the jetpack again.
Another likeness it shares with Metroid is that it has you starting with all the good stuff it has to offer, but the way this cruel mistress takes it all away from you is evil, and unforgivable. The way Metroid games confiscate your weapons and items, having you earn them back one by one works really well. But in Dark Void it’s akin to torture as you start the game in the sky, in the midst of a dogfight, (relatively) free as a bird, only to have your wings clipped ten minutes later. You are then forced to walk through hell for a long time, to earn them back. Much like having your own fully tuned-up Lexus (this game is NO Ferrari), then having someone steal it from you, and throw an Oyster Card bus-pass with no credit out the window as they drive away begging you to make chase!
The game has a go at teaching you its controls as you play but I recommend that you check them out in the options menu beforehand, as you will find yourself looking for the ‘Jump’ button very early on. And oh – how Will jumps… Very Mario-like. His ridiculous jump alone said a lot about the game for me. To recap: the on-foot sections are a HUGE disappointment.
Eventually, you do get to start flying again. It took all the patience and determination I had to keep playing to get this far, but being the committed gamer I am and wanting to impart the knowledge upon you, dear reader, I struggled on. But I soon realised that, that’s it: You either shoot ‘em whilst in the air, or on the ground. It did try something different with the wall-scaling sections, which were intriguing for a few minutes. They occur during both land and air-based levels, but it’s a very limited affair. For one thing, you can only do it in certain set areas. It’s a bit like hopping up and down levels in the classic Rolling Thunder series, but with far less freedom. The feeling of, ‘you can go here, but not there’ is very annoying and very linear. It’s a case of standing in the right spot, and pressing the Square button.  Also as the character has a jetpack it is hard to see why he would need to do any wall-scaling in the first place. You have the option of opening weapons lockers which are dotted throughout the game, where you can use collected cash (which materialises in orb-style form after killing enemies) to upgrade weapons.

Well.. There really isn’t much else to say. I had no interest in the story (what there is of one) as it only served to add even more boredom to the game. And believe me – this game is BORING. The aforementioned tranquillity of the title screens and menus was actually a very good indication of what was to come.
I had no interest in the characters, or their goals. The playing time is (perhaps mercifully) short with the only thing that serves to prolong the adventure is dying and being re-spawned at the poorly placed checkpoints. I was expecting loads of cool boss battles like the one I saw in the preview footage, but whilst being Dark Void’s only true high points, they are a rarity. Then there’s the slowdown, which made absolutely no sense to me as I saw no reason for it; it almost seemed completely random. The game seems to be handling a fair amount of goings-on just fine one minute and then choking like a chain-smoker the next. And again – not a great deal ever happens in this adventure.

When I purchased Dark Void, I thought I’d be happy with it in my collection. Half a day later and I’m gutted that a game with so much promise and potential was executed so badly. And, once completed, there is absolutely no real reason to return to it. Multiplayer? Hell no. Online options? HELL no. Capcom could be on to something here, but this dead, lazy, unfinished mess is the worst pile of crap I’ve played in a long time. Dark Void? Avoid more like!

3/10 (For the jetpack).

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