Dark Void- Demo Impressions

Dark Void has had some relatively good buzz following it since its showcase at E3 2009 and the demo has finally been released onto XBOX Live and PSN (though it has been on and off the catalogue for hours now). In case the picture above is leaving you at a loss for what this game is, it is a vertical shooter that takes place in another dimension where a fighter pilot has been trapped and must use a jet pack to defeat the evil forces and escape… alive. Essentially the infant child of The Rocketeer and Time Splitters. So, how does the demo match up to the buzz? You’ll find out…

The demo is agonizingly short. Overall it is about ten minutes long if you bust through it no problem. For obvious reasons it is really cut together awkwardly as the cutscenes and gameplay progress in very different parts of the finished product. This happens to most game demos, but this one is especially jarring and makes it seem like Capcom cut it up and threw it out there just to get people’s attention. However, it sort of backfires because if I was someone who did not follow games and played this demo, I would think that the whole package might be just as weird. Capcom doesn’t give a hoot.

The controls are the most disappointing aspect of the demo. The jetpack controls like a dream with the dual analogue sticks but multitasking flight with combat is really bad. Your left stick controls the pitch and main direction that the protagonist is heading and the right stick controls the roll of the character. The pack has built in guns which you fire with the right trigger and aim with the left trigger. Seems pretty simple so far right? Wrong. Now the pack operates at a pretty steady speed by itself when your not in hover-mode (to land and fight via the “A” button) but the buttons which control your speed increase and decrease are “Y” and “X” which means that while in a dogfight you must sacrifice maneuverability for speed management. Speed Management would not be a problem and this control scheme would not be a hassle if you didn’t die when you crashed into anything. I don’t know, if this game relies so much on cover in the air then I see this control scheme turning my hair gray, but the demo doesn’t even offer you a moment in the game when you use this “vertical cover” that has made this game a title worth talking about.

The aerial combat pretty much works really well (despite the few shortcomings). It’s your basic dog-fighting game as you try to bring your enemies down with your jetpack of destruction. On the other hand, the combat on the ground really reminds me of Wanted: Weapons of Fate and that scares the living mess out of me. The few guns that were available in the demo were pretty much unresponsive as I used what seemed to be an energy bazooka on various enemies and they were not as affected as they should have been. Because the guns were useless in the little amount of combat (I’m talking 15 enemies at most) I just started running around and using my melee to bring my enemies to justice. It was fun the first couple of times but it scares me that I play the game for 15 minutes and I do not want to touch any firearms while I am on the ground.

Finally there is my biggest problem with the game: the main character is voiced by Nolan North. I AM SICK OF THIS GUY! Nearly every single game that I play, a main character is voiced by him. I am all for him having a job because he is a great voice actor and helped bring Nathan Drake to life, but he has the same voice in every game. Let’s go over the past couple of games he has been in, Uncharted 2, Assassins Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Halo 3: ODST, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2….ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I literally almost shut the demo off when I heard the hero speak. Ugh!

It seems like Dark Void is on its way to mediocrity but let’s all just hope that it does not suffer the same fate as the Bionic Commando remake. I like Capcom too much for them to lose that much money.

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