Game Review: Dark Void — high-flying disappointment

Dark Void delivers on all the basics. It's a mix of third-person, cover-based shooter and a flight simulator. Although technically you can start flying at will once you have the jet pack, in practice if you're in a ground battle sequence, hitting those rockets will slam you into a wall and kill you instantly. So most of the time you're either doing one or the other. Unfortunately, neither activity is a lot of fun. The shooting is OK, although the guns feel underpowered and kind of boring for a lot of the early game. The flying controls well, but suffers from the same fault many dogfighting games suffer from: mostly it's just maneuvering around in circles and holding the trigger down for your machine-guns. Competent but dull. The hijacking UFOs is awful – the same mini-game over and over with no variation and which takes five times longer than you want it to. Sadly, this is still often a quicker way to take out enemies than dogfighting is, so you might end up doing it a lot.

But none of the game play feels broken, and if the story had been great, the game could've satisfied. The story is not great. The story is terrible. Maybe that's not fair. It would be more accurate to say that the story is terribly executed and terribly lacking in continuity or logic. The cut scenes seem like they've had two thirds of their lines cut out, which doesn't have to be a bad thing, except that we're left with lots of hanging plot points, mysterious allusions that are never explained, and weird moments. For example, in one scene Tesla is standing next to our hero and his love interest and the next moment he's radioing her from a different location asking her to join him there. What the hell? The game is full of these kinds of non sequiturs. Even worse, huge plot points and story background details get revealed in the one or two sentence blurbs that appear during loading screens. They do make a little more sense of what's going on, but only a little and some of them are straight out spoilers for upcoming events.

The game has some moments of innovation and potential greatness. It implements a vertical, cover based shooting mechanic for moving up and down cliff-sides and large alien shafts which works pretty well and is fun. OK, actually that's the only thing I can think of from this game I'd like to see repeated elsewhere. While not fundamentally broken or painfully unplayable, Dark Void is also not worth your time and especially not worth buying for $60 on the X-Box 360 or Playstation 3.


It's the constant lament of the 21st Century geek: where's my jet pack (or flying car, or house on the moon)? 2010 offers no personal flying devices, but it does offer games like Dark Void, where you can at least pretend to have a jet pack. Sadly, this game's solution to my high-flying backpacking dreams is even more disappointing than the reality we're forced to live in. At least in the real world I can still hold out some hope for the future, where as I know right now that Dark Void is not a good game.

The premise couldn't have been more squarely aimed at my tastes if they'd come over to my house and asked me what I wanted from a game. You play a pilot in 1938 who gets swept through a vortex in the Bermuda Triangle and gets a jet pack from famed inventor and possible mad man Nikola Tesla so that you can fight aliens and save the world from the Nazis. Plus you get to hijack UFOs. I've been salivating for this game since it was announced.

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