Game play - 9
Presentation - 9
Story / Creativity - 6.5
Lifespan - 8.5
If you are looking for a solid eight hour campaign with great gameplay mechanics and surprisingly yummy visuals then Dark Sector is the way to go. Sure the game slips up on its poorly written plot but then again games are about having fun and Dark Sector truly delivers in that aspect.
Dark Sector has been out for a couple of years now but it is surprising how well it has aged within the current generation of games. I felt it was justifiable to turn back the time and pop in the disc to give my own personal opinion on this sleeper gem.
Digital Extremes had been around since the early 90s and had built up quite a positive reputation through their work on the Unreal Tournament franchise. It was no surprise that Digital wanted to break out on their own within the early Playstation 3/ Xbox 360 generation of games. They had garnered some success with their previous Shooter ‘Pariah’ on the Xbox and PC, so a next generation title was definitely in the coming mists.
Dark Sector follows the story of Hayden Tenno (voiced by the talented Michael Rosenbaum) as he infiltrates a Lasrian compound in hopes of putting the stop to a mysterious virus that turns its victims insane, while also mutating them into metallic looking creatures. Hayden is eventually infected by the virus as well but instead of turning crazy from the shear amount of pain from the virus, Hayden is able to subdue it through his abnormally enhanced congenital analgia, a real life condition in which the person cannot experience pain.
Upon being infected Hayden gains the power to wield the ‘Glaive’ a three bladed throwing weapon created from his own body that can be thrown great distances to dismember enemies big or small.
The whole premise screams comic book origin story and it is surprising how well the story initially portrays its main character. Problems arise though with the fact that the game wants the player to know backstory that never actually exists. We are never given flash backs to the past events that characters briefly talk about and it forms a small state of confusion in the plot. Digital Extremes obviously wanted the game to be formed into some sort of franchise and it is obvious in the game’s writing to events that are never explained or touched upon. This also goes with the characters that Hayden meets through his journey.
They all know each other but you never really understand how or why they do and when you get to the point of being hinted at some type of story development; the game just decides to cut you off and continues on as if you know what is going on. This ultimately means you will never care about what Hayden is doing what he is doing and with a awkwardly forgettable supporting cast and villain, the story will become an after though.
This brings us to the gameplay though, and boy is this game fun. If you have ever played any of the recent Resident Evil games then you will be right at home with Dark Sector. The game plays like a third person shooter with a cover system to boot, you even get some pretty cool guns to play around with later on in the game but the whole experience is amped up through the use of the game’s cover weapon, the Glaive. As mentioned the glaive works like a boomerang but its way more deadly as you will soon discover through its continued use. By pressing the trigger button Hayden will throw this deadly throwing star with grace as it whirls through the air and lops off the arms and legs of the enemies it comes into contact with.
The glaive is a really cool weapon and will leave you with a surprisingly satisfied smile on your face as you walk through the story like a boss taking down foe after foe. The glaive gets a major add on part way through the game where it also gives you the ability to control it mid-throw. This means the player can line up a number of multi-kills and give you the front row seat as you see your victims flailing in the air as their arms and legs are cleaved off with a single throw. The game also helps to keep you interested with the continuous stream of additional powers and weapons that it will give you throughout the game and unlike other games where you will have a few useless abilities, all of Hayden’s powers feel justified and useful.
The game gives you a lot to play with early on and also allows the combat to never get boring. I especially love that fact that the glaive and be locked on to certain objects like enemy weapons or dropped ammo and can be retrieved by throwing your glaive towards it. This means that the combat gets even more intense as you disarm enemies and use their own weapons against them to perform that finishing blow.
The weapons bring an interesting touch to the gameplay as well. Hayden will at times come across manholes along his journey which will give him access to an underground shopping outlet that allows him to purchase new weapons and upgrade existing ones with specific upgrades that the player finds hidden within the levels. These upgrades that can then be used to upgrade the current power, recoil and reload speed of your equipped weapons or even give them beneficial features like coating your bullets in a liquid that kills the infected but is weaker against human targets. It is a great balance in how you want to play and allows you to have your own play style such as having your guns focus on the various creatures while you focus the use of your glaive on your human opponents.
There is also an additional multiplayer feature which sports some cool game modes like having one player as Hayden fully upgraded while the rest of the lobby play as soldiers and have to hunt him down and another where two teams get a Hayden and the rest must defend him as the mentioned soldiers. These are surprisingly fun additions to the already great time sink that is the main campaign but it is no surprise that the online community is wavering close to dead with the lack of additional downloadable content along with the age of the game itself.
As I stated at the start of this review the game has aged considerably well. There are times when the game shows a gleam of intense beauty in its visuals. A great example is Hayden’s infected arm. The metallic texture used is undeniably detailed and it looks even more amazing when Hayden is made to walk through rain. The individual droplets of rainfall flow down the shiny substance something surprisingly on par with current games and for that I have to applaud Digital Extremes for doing such a good job on its texture work. This is also supported by a pretty solid soundtrack too. The weapon sounds are especially well done, such as the glaive which makes a deadly whirling noise as it spins effortlessly through the air to its targets.
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