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Dark Sector Review (PS3)

Dark Sector May Have Needed More Alone Time

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By Ginamarie Chiechi

Dark Sector - Finisher, PS3 Screenshot

Dark Sector - Finisher, PS3 Screenshot

© Digital Extremes
Wanting to ensure a polished game, developer Digital Extremes finally released Dark Sector (the first next generation title to be announced). Unfortunately, while the graphics are pretty, the controls are complicated and the storyline is a little weak.

The Beginnings of a New Adventure

The game starts in the fictional Lasria, with clever black and white imagery, as black-op Hayden Tenno prepares to execute his mission. The mission goes wrong and he is infected with a mutation that the Lasrian government failed to contain. After becoming infected, Hayden adopts and takes advantage of the mysterious powers he gains from it.

One of these powers is the use of a circular glaive which he can control the flight path of. The glaive serves as both a long and short distance weapon handing out death in a few dozen finishing moves. If the player times the glaive throw perfectly they can use the full power potential of the weapon and actually cut enemies in half. The glaive also has the special ability to temporarily carry fire, electricity, and ice. These have been conjoined into the game making them necessary to progress. For example, there is this strange, almost living-like blockage that Hayden must burn with fire from his glaive to unlock access to a few doors.

In order to obtain fire Hayden needs to find a broken junction box with arcs of electricity shooting out of it to charge his glaive. He can throw his electrically charged glaive into gas leaking out of a pipe to create fire. After charging his glaive with fire he can toss it at the blockage and burn it to bits.

Who Said Anything About Needing Functional Mechanics?

Dark Sector - Taking Cover (PS3 Screenshot)

Dark Sector - Taking Cover (PS3)

© Digital Extremes
In a Gears of War fashion players can duck behind objects and fire from the third person perspective. The button that allows you to do this is also the button you use to roll. It turns out to be a very finicky control when player is in the heat of an intense blood bath.

Hayden must be facing in the direction of, and standing right next to, the wall, bench, or barricade he plans on hiding behind other wise he will duck and roll right into the field of fire and die within 10 seconds with red, blurred vision and a cheery “you are dead” planted on the center of the screen. The button for the glaive is also multifunctional.

The player can tap it to throw the glaive, double tap it to control the flight path, or hold it to throw it at max power and if aimed nearly perfectly it can pick up an enemies weapon. The most beloved (pain in the ass) button is the one you have to hold to pick up anything. Asking politely, “Excuse me, please don’t shoot at me while I am positioning myself perfectly above this ammo/weapon and taking my time to hold the button so I can pick it up” doesn’t really work. A few choice words, and about a hundred deaths later, it becomes easier to control these buttons, but certainly nothing about them is intuitive.

Level Design Dilema

The level designs can look complex when the player first steps in with buildings and lots of doors and alleys, but the travel path is very pre-determined. So while the levels may look gorgeous and the player may want to explore, they will quickly learn that the path is so defined they cannot even enter a tent that is not part of the pre-determined path of travel. I hope the designers weren’t worried about the players getting lost because they traveled down an alley more than three feet without a map.

Fight, Fight Fight

The game is loaded with bad guys. It starts out as being a slew of different military personnel. The player gets to blow up helicopters and weird mechwarrior-like machines. There are super developed infected monsters. And regular infected monsters which are…zombies! Intense fight scenes, with so many different types of enemies really help to keep the player’s interest. My only word of advice when playing this game is to make sure you take the time to hold the button that picks up the ammo, and pick up as much of it as you can. Every time the player passes into a new section of a level the previous section is locked so they can’t go backward to collect. If you don’t, be prepared to die and curse at your 1080P TV because you’ve died several dozen times because you can’t get past a fight sequence because you ran out of ammo!

It's not that Dark Sector is bad, it simply needed a good consultant, or at least more time in development. The story line seems, litterally, peiced together, as do the levels. This is a clever game that is too rough around the edges to be fully enjoyed.

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