Friday, 22 January 2010

Dark Void - 360/PS3

Nolan North is no stranger to voicing high profile video game characters. He's best know for wise-cracking, smooth-talking, all-action hero Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series. Once again his vocals have been called upon, as he pops up in Dark Void to lend his voice to protagonist Will.

The similarities to Uncharted don't stop at Mr North's vocal talents, as the opening hour or so of Capcom's first big game of the year bears an uncanny resemblance to the PS3 title. Trudging through a jungle location and diving for cover behind ruined walls, it's hard not to think of Uncharted.

Fortunately, the game transforms into an altogether different beast - but it takes a while to get there.

The story focuses on Will, a pilot whose plane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle. He soon finds himself in The Void, a world between worlds, where an evil alien race are based. Here, they shape-shift, secretly entering our world and worming their way into the hearts of governments across the globe. It's a ramshackle collection of incomprehensible nonsense, which involves alien robots, slick-skinned evil masters and dimensional portals.

Even Nikola Tesla makes an appearance, sharing his wisdom with Will in the shape of an unstable jetpack. Fortunately, the core gameplay holds up for the six short hours it takes to complete Dark Void. While the conventional cover system is ripped straight from other games, the vertical shooting action gives the game some originality.

Will nimbly leaps from one platform to the next, scaling huge structures, picking of sharp-shooting robots as he climbs higher and higher. It's great fun and leads to some genuinely vertigo-inducing moments. The jetpack is the main focus of the game, though, and Will can hover above his prey or fly like Superman depending on the situation.

It's a shame, then, that the first of three episodes fail to draw the player into the experience. It's not until Will actually enters The Void that the game starts to pick up. Swarmed by Boba Fett impersonators, he takes to the skies to do battle, but if truth be told, picking off these high flying enemies is easier if Will's feet are firmly kept on the ground.

Dark Void also offers large chunks of air-to-air combat. Will can either take part in these mid-air skirmishes with the aid of his jetpack, or commandeer other craft such as enemy flying saucers. These sections are entertaining the first couple of times, but in an effort to pad out what is still an incredibly short game, these high flying escapades are repeated throughout.

Along with Uncharted's influence, the game shamelessly rips elements from a bunch of other titles including Mass Effect, Prey and Dead Space. Ancient quicktime events also rear their head, usually when taking on a boss or smacking an alien in the face at 20,000 ft, so expect lots of frantic button mashing and furious stick waggling.

Dark Void provides a handful of enjoyable moments, but really there's not much here. It's certainly not better than the titles it's influenced by - perhaps the sequel will improve the formula.

No comments: