Friday, February 24, 2012

Dark Sector

This game is a rather forgotten piece of history already despite being just some years old. Pretty much a victim of poor marketing. It was brought to my attention through another blog, and since it's still largely available for next to nothing, I decided to give it a shot. On the one hand, yes, this game is yet another cover shooter with all the typical cliches. Yet on the other hand, it is a game with one particularly cool superpower for the protagonist.

Most shooters these days have one distinguishing feature from all the other shooters. One. The quality of the game is up to the use of this feature and combination of level, weapon and enemy design. The pony called Dark Sector has a trick called the glaive. It's a spinning throwing weapon that gains a multitude of uses during the game.

In the very beginning this thing just flies straight forward and is overall crappy. Towards the end of the game, the glaive does a lot more. It can be used to pick up items which makes it a form of telekinesis. It gains a power throw, which does quadruple damage but requires precise timing from the player. The power throw is particularly satisfying as it usually cuts enemies in half or severs heads/limbs. It can be imbued with elements from the environment for some added effects such as electrocution. Finally, the player can control its flight path. By the press of a button, the camera moves behind the glaive and the player can control it. This way the glaive can go past covers, cut down multiple enemies and do some serious precision work. Guiding a power thrown glaive is one of the more satisfying power trips I've had recently in games.

What makes the glaive a successful weapon is how it allows the player to be rather creative. It not only allows creativity, but even demands it. The game even has somewhat non-trivial puzzles where the glaive needs to be used. The game also conveniently limits the use of firearms so the player really needs to use his cool superpower. The explanation is very Metal Gear, but who cares. Firearms still can be used, and the protagonist always dual-wields a pistol with his glaive, which makes it the most usable firearm in the game. Ammunition is quite scarce. While the game is clearly a cover shooter, it also reminds me of superpower games such as InFamous and Prototype.

The game lacks somewhat in production quality and originality.  The characters and plot are crap. Still it does one thing well enough and has the sense to end before it starts to repeat itself too much. I would suggest this game solely for the purpose of seeing the glaive in action. It is simply one of the coolest weapon designs in ages.

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