Dark Void is lacking, but still fun.
I’d like to get a point across, and that’s that just because a game is rated 3 stars doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Dark Void is quite a fun game. The main reason Dark Void deserves a three star rating is because there isn’t enough content or diversity to justify the full retail price tag. Had this been a game that went for half the cost of the normal full price then I’d probably give it an additional star above what I’ve rated it now. Dark Void attempts to layer in a lot of different game play styles into one game. Some of these styles come off quite well like flying around and dog fighting with your jetpack. However, those of us who typically play highly polished games will quickly realize that this game could have probably used several more months getting another few coats of wax and likely would have been a much better received had that happened.
Dark Void is moderately successful in showing you what a third person shooter game would look like if you and some bad guys all had jetpacks and had a mutual characteristic of completely disregarding any sort of safety measures for your body while operating a dangerous jetpack. Dark Void takes the cover system of games like Gears of War and adds an innovative vertical aspect to it. At many points in the game you’ll be traversing straight up the inside of a tower, the side of a cliff, or swinging yourself straight down while at the same time taking cover from enemy fire utilizing the very ledges you’re climbing for cover. You’ll quickly notice that when you first start running and gunning, the controls feel somewhat loose but at the same time make you feel very mobile. When you obtain the hovering ability on the jetpack you feel a little TOO mobile and it becomes nearly impossible to accurately shoot. This will lead you to favor being on the ground while shooting those stationary bad guys or and not doing some sort of airborne ice-skating act.
The lack of tightness in the shooting while hovering isn’t the only thing that feels wrong. Sometimes you’ll shoot an entire clip at a bad guy behind cover and while it looked like you hit right on you’ll quickly realize that you didn’t do any damage at all. No worries though as the enemy intelligence is usually pretty terrible. Need them to come out from hiding and completely expose themselves? No problem just toss a grenade nearby and they’ll run right out. You might think, well duh, wouldn’t you run away from a nearby grenade? Well I wouldn’t if I had some cover in-between me and the grenade but it turns out that cover provides no protection at all from grenades, so even if you’re hiding behind something a nearby the explosive will make you hurt worse than a scabbed knee and alcohol. I would say that on average you’ll be killing yourself much more often than the enemy will… either by grenade, falling off a cliff, or jetpacking into a wall.
That leads me into the other aspect of this game, the free flight. Your hoverpack gets upgraded to a full on jetpack at the end of the first chapter. The ability to jump up and fly away is the best aspect of this game. The transition between flying to hovering to landing and then back to flying again is the most exhilarating experience the game offers. The air to air combat is also quite good. You use the built in (unlimited ammo) chain guns to shoot your airborne enemies. Those enemies do a good job of trying to stay out of your view and if you get close enough you’re given to option to attempt hijack their UFO ships. You can even jump in one of your allies planes and even get a different perspective on the action by utilize some nearby ground mounted cannons. The hijacking part quickly turns from something cool to something quite useless however, as sometimes it’s a better strategy to just shoot those UFOs out of the air. You don’t realize it at first but t he time spent hijacking the enemy craft will leave any friendly escorts wide open to abuse and occasionally while hijacking you’ll just be straight up killed for reasons unknown. Was it enemy fire? Did you hit a nearby cliff? Did you just screw up somehow? Who knows.
Although some have praised Dark Void’s story and music, I feel this is probably its weakest aspect. On paper the story sounds kind of neat, that being a pilot being sucked in by the Bermuda triangle and arriving in a strange world filled with aliens and UFOs. I was left in a constant state of confusion by how the story was being delivered by the game. Every single character was pretty worthless or unimportant and the game was trying to push itself along in some sort of nonstop action aspect , but instead of getting a charge out of all the action you feel like you never get a chance to breathe and are left counting the number of plot elements and holes that are never really developed or acknowledged.
There are numerous technical issues with the game. While this might be the most reported negative aspect of the game, I felt this didn’t really get in the way of the fun. I encountered three or four extremely choppy moments that went away after a few seconds and a few repeating sounds at the end of some cut-scenes. Neither of these issues bothered me in the least, however there was one other occasion where the entire cut-scene sound had cut into some sort of loud noise that made it impossible to hear what the characters were saying. I came back to that scene later and that didn’t happen again.So there you have it, you’ve probably gone over this and said, “hey thanks I’ll stay away from this game.” That’s not what I’m recommending, I actually think you’ll enjoy yourself should play this game, but don’t buy it at full price. This is a definite rental and/or bargain bin purchase. This game has dumb enemy intelligence, a bland and forgetful story, and some undesirable quirks, yet the run and gun, vertical battling, and free flight aspects work well enough for the overall experience to be fun. Unless vertical combat makes you sick you’ll probably finish this game in about 10 hours.