The Games: Dark Sector

I originally posted this at Port City Gamer. Check it out for more Jayslacks goodness.

Dark Sector is the exact kind of game I like to play. You shoot stuff. Stuff shoots at you and you try not to die. There is also this “toughness” quality that I can’t latch down. Some video games give you the ability to show off your video game skills. I like to think of myself as a new digital warrior, honing my craft to the utmost. Yeah, that does sound lame. But whatever gets you through a day, right?

Dark Sector works in all the right places. It also doesn’t work in all the, eh, wrong places. Here is a breakdown of the important stuff, with a final verdict at the end.

Gameplay: Playing this game feels almost intuitive. If you’ve played any videogame involving cover or firing a weapon, then you quickly will have the game play of Dark Sector down. Some people would call this a cop-out and not innovative. I actually enjoy it. I mean, tons of games copy the Halo 3 control and driving model. We never complain as gamers because it helps, not hurts. The less controlling we have to relearn, the better.

The shooting parts gets a bit stale rather quickly. But once you receive the glaive, things turn for the cool. The Glaive is the disc that you throw to cut the bad guys to bits. You can hack a head off, an arm off, whatever. It is amazing how good it feels to toss that thing. It does feel, in someways, underpowered. You toss it through a guy’s chest and they live? Sure, buddy. But the glaive will bounce off objects and react the way you think it should. That’s not the only powers you receive as the game moves forward. This weird virus you are infected with gives you a force field, invisibility, and “Aftertouch”, allowing you to guide the glaive as you throw it. Towards the middle of the game, it isn’t how you survive. It’s how cool you can survive. The game is fun by giving you multiple options to clear a stage. The gameplay isn’t what gets old.

Story: The story gets old. This story makes absolutely no sense. You are a CIA agent sent to kill this guy. Then some other guy that used to be a CIA agent infects you with the virus. Then you get powers. Nowhere does anyone tell you where the virus comes from. You also notice that regular people who are infected turn into mindless zombies, but it is hardly ever explained why you don’t turn into a mindless zombie. On top of that, there are huge monsters running around the size of a house, and no one tells you how they got so big. You could toss a tank through the plot holes in this game. It makes you not really care about anyone or anything. There is never a sense of urgency. You just fight, make it to the next level, fight some more, and get the occasional boss fight.

Bosses: Awesome. I played COD4 straight through with almost no problems. I played Halo 3 with hardly any hang-ups. Why is it, the less hyped a game is, the harder the game is? Dark Sector bosses are hard. They hit you once, you die. There are no shields and you have no life bar. If they even barely touch your arm, you drop dead. This game is completely unforgiving. You have to learn to play the game better in order to progress, which is the sign of a good game. Seriously, on one boss fight, I thought, I can’t beat this guy. He is unbeatable. Ten tries later, I did it. But just barely. It is refreshing to play a game that makes you really mad.
Graphics and sound: The graphics are awesome in places, really bad in others. You can tell that this game’s art design was either rushed, or scrapped and redid. Whatever the case, the game doesn’t have a real feel for how it looks. The textures and models look amazing. And there is no texture popping, either. The game loads quick and you never have to wait for a stone to become textured or a tree to finishing modeling. Everything pops and stays that way. The sound, too, isn’t anything super amazing. It works. You can tell when and where an enemy is because of the sound, if you have 5.1. Which is good because a lot of the enemies are invisible.

Multiplayer: The online portion of Dark Sector is just bad. Really bad. There two modes. The first has one player as the infected with all the powers versus ten dudes with just guns. You think this is one sided, but it isn’t. The infected characters are so powerful that they can clean out a room, no problem. The second has one infected leader with a squad of normal dudes versus the other team. Only the leaders can kill each other. While I was playing it, I thought, man this is boring. It just isn’t fun. The maps are boring. Even when you have powers in multplayer, you don’t have them long enough to really enjoy it. It truly feels tact on and there is no reason, besides achievements, to play this game online.

Final thoughts: This game is worth the play through. The gameplay is truly solid and is a lot of fun. Fans of Bioshock and Gears of War will enjoy this title. Don’t think of Dark Sector as a contender for game of the year, because it isn’t. It has some problems. But, if you are looking for a good time with a real solid solo-campaign, this game is worth the asking price.