KalnielReviewer - Kalniel
First impressions are important. Mass Effect's stirring sense of human endeavour. The epic evolution sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The surprising opening sentence of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines. A shame then, that Dark Void does its utmost to convince you that no, you weren't here to meet anyone tonight.
Install issues aside (easily worked around simply by installing from hard disk), the prologue highlights all of the game's control flaws shortly before dumping you in the ugliest part of the whole adventure. If I wasn't reviewing it I'd have stopped there and then.
And that would have been a mistake, because Dark Void goes on to produce some moments of genuine fun along with some interesting game mechanics.
You play Will, an aviator who crashes after flying through the Bermuda triangle and finds himself in a strange land and helping the fight against a mysterious, metallic-shelled, enemy. Along the way you'll uncover journals recounting past events from several different viewpionts. Okay, so the story isn't really what this game is about and if you've played other Capcom titles like Lost Planet you'll know that it's all about the action - waves of bad guys, action sequences, boss battles that have you targeting weak spots etc.
The twist in this game however, is that equipped with a rocket pack you can switch between Gears of War like shooter fare and action in the air. This is presented as a smooth transition under your control and feels completely part of the game - it's neither tacked on nor gives the feeling of being two separate games unlike some other titles which have tried the same. Unfortunately it's here that the control flaws start to raise their head.
First of all, forget playing this game on anything other than an X360 gamepad. Flight is utterly uncontrollable with keyboard and mouse, and all the in-game prompts refer to gamepad buttons rather than your bound controls. This is especially frustrating during the quick time events that populate boss battles - where you have to mash certain buttons and waggle sticks in quick sequence in response to on-screen prompts. Having to register the button and then either remap it in your head to the keyboard equivalent (it's not even that consistent) or look it up in the manual is just unworkable. Same goes for using non-X360 'pads.
Once you've resigned yourself to using the gamepad things get a lot better, although I laughed each time I lit up the rocket pack only to then slam head first into a wall and die. Well, the first 40 times at least. Then I began to get fed up of starting at the last checkpoint.
So no, the flight mechanic didn't really do it for me. However there is also something of an in-between - vertical walls/platforms enable a Prey-like shift of perspective as you leap up or down from ledge to ledge. These sections really did float my boat - the sense of vertigo and slight spatial disorientation gnawing at you while you leap about trying to get a bead on the enemy and avoid being shot. The enemy AI is superbly suited to these sections as well - ducking behind cover, bounding from ledge to ledge, and the sight of them swarming towards you in the vertical is something special.
All in all, Dark Void is a typical example of a Capcom game - they have to be given credit for bringing this genre of game to the PC from the consoles, but the transition to PC never goes entirely smoothly. If the PC market could ever justify the additional cost for the polish it needs then this game would be opening up or at least reinforcing a whole new market. As it is though, it just misses the mark, and is at risk of falling into that deep, dark void...
Kalniel's rating: 6.5/10
Think Gears of War mixed with Lost Planet, Prey and Tomb Raider, with a touch of StarFox.