Dark Sector

Posted on 29 April 2010 by Fahad Majidi

Coming at a superhero title is a little different with a new IP. For a start, you have to generate interest with the game alone. There’s no established fan base, no previous materials and little more than the title itself to offer any kind of back-story. It’s a brave move though, and any title that attempts it should be given the time to prove whether it has the balls to exist alongside what the likes of Marvel and DC doing so well. Not that it would be in the same league, it’s fair to suggest that no videogame IP would compete in terms of popularity with the big boys, but given how ravenous the superhero set are when it comes to getting their hands on a new – and decent –storyline, there’s plenty of room for Dark Sector to be welcomed in.

Indeed, Top Cow Comics, those behind another notable comic book/ videogame star. The Darkness, are set to create a graphic novel that will run alongside the game. That, more than anything we have seen, goes further towards indicating to us that Dark Sector has the necessary oomph to deliver a top notch experience as it’s unlikely that such a reputable company would jump into bed with D3Publisher if the product wasn’t of superior quality.

It sound like a fairly regulation narrative, with the lead protagonist, Hayden Tenno, a black-ops operative, being sent into the city of Lasria to investigate the occurrence of a deadly plague. Soon after arriving in the city, he’s taken ill and wakes up with a cybernetic arm fitted with a glaive. We are not given much else until right at the end of the story, but given D3’s insistence that isn’t just a game, but a superhero origin story, we suspect that narrative will extend much further past the end of the game.

The main problem that we have with Dark Sector is that it simply doesn’t seem to be doing anything particularly new. Three important aspects, namely the controls system, viewpoint and puzzle mechanic have been transposed on to the game almost directly from Gears Of War, Resident Evil 4 and Zelda respectively, and while those titles in their own right and brilliant, Dark Sector doesn’t seem to have the same kind of the quality of any of them. Don’t get us wrong, it’s an incredibly shadowy title, and one which deals with the darker side of gaming with ease, but there’s nothing past that strikes you are you are playing.

The glaive, much like Link’s boomerang, is as much a puzzle solving device as a tool of destruction (despite the fact that much of the puzzling we have seen involves destruction of some kind or another). The weapon can be charged with elemental attacks and used to destroy sections of the environments to allow you through, for example. Given the focus on the glaive and the flexibility of the blades, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the puzzling will be significantly more challenging than simply that though.

You can also use the weapon to set traps, engage in melee combat and lop the heads off enemies from afar. It’s a very sharp sword, you see. But then that’s not the only weapon you will have access to, as unlike many superheroes, Hayden Tenno utilizes the standard military weaponry of the kind you’re probably well used to. The full gamut of shotguns, pistols and heavier weapons will all be on offer, and with Hayden’s added toughness delivered by the techno-virus, he’s quite a formidable force. Not quite as formidable as many of his opponents, though.

No, Hayden not only has to deal with the victims of this techno-plague, but the military sent in to clean up the mess as well. Pretty much everyone’s out to get him, and behind it all, there’s the distinct feeling you are being played like a puppet. Quite how Hayden’s skills progress is still a mystery, but we have been promised an array of virus-based skills. In all, it does seem a little generic, doesn’t it? D3Publisher has promised a high degree of innovation =, but we haven’t seen any of that. What we have seen is a title that looks okay. It’s got some nice ideas we’ve seen elsewhere, some nice USPs that we have seen elsewhere, and some nice story-lines that we have seen elsewhere. That’s pretty much all you need to know. The standout feature is very much the grizzly ambiance and frankly terrifying techno-virus victims, but in all honesty we need more nowadays than just the occasional scare.

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