Review by Edgeknight

Reviewed: 09/30/05

While technically a good game, comes a bit short of enjoyable

We've never been totally sure with Capcom games, for their quality over the years has ranged from horribly bad to the genre-defining, and their exploration into the first person shooter genre falls right in between.

Darkwatch takes some concepts we've already seen elsewhere and attempts to mingle them together to create a unique experience. The only problem with it is many of these concepts and features end up being shallow and unnecessary, and simply feel tacked on for the sake of it. With that said, I'll break down the game's features and you can decide for yourself.

The Story (contains some spoilers)

You play as Jericho Cross, a silent train robber with the typical badass persona and reputation. Things quickly go bad in his latest heist when the train he's on turns out be carrying not gold, but an ancient vampire. After blowing the vault and freeing this monster, it bites our dashing hero and quickly he starts becoming a vampire. From there you join an organization called Darkwatch, dedicated to hunting down all the things that go bump in the night. You'll complete a few missions while trying to track down Lazarus, the vampire you unwittingly set upon the world. Throughout the story, you'll have opportunities to either make a good or evil choice, this is one of the features obviously implemented to give depth and replay value, but end up being shallow and only offering slight variation in terms of story. Your choice to be good or evil affects the story only minutely and the endings aren't really changed all that much by your choices.

Nothing in the story to get excited over, but it IS a FPS, and as fans of the genre know its the gameplay that counts in these games. And just how is the gameplay?


Gameplay

This is where a FPS has to shine, or it'll fizzle into obscurity. How does Darkwatch's gameplay stack up?

You'll have a small arsenal of weapons at your disposal, one of each type. You'll have your typical revolver, without which no game set in the wild west could be complete. You'll have a carbine rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, and dual pistols just for the sake of dual-weilding. There's also a crossbow with explosive arrows, though this weapon can tend to kill you because most enemies charge at you, and explosive crossbow bolts turn them into walking bombs. All in all, your standard FPS artillery.

Fans of Halo will feel right at home, as Darkwatch takes quite a few pages from Halo's book. You can carry two weapons at once, usually amounting to carrying one long range weapon and one short range weapon, and all of them have a melee attack if your opponent gets too close for comfort. You even have a shield, so if you played Halo then Darkwatch will only have a slight learning curve.

Where Darkwatch splits away from Haloesque gameplay is the concept of vampire powers. These will depend on which alignment you choose to follow, though you can have both good and evil powers. While sometimes helpful, I often forgot I had them during gameplay, they were a minor feature at best. The only time you'll really find yourself relying on your vampiritic powers are during boss fights when powering up your shots is a major help. Add to the fact that during the few daytime levels your powers disappear, you'll most likely not find yourself coming to use them all that often.

But now to the meat of the gameplay. The enemies. Enemies in Darkwatch are zombies created by the vampire you let lose, and they will attempt to kill you throughout all the levels of the game. These zombies range from your standard brainless skeletons that will charge at you blindly to snipers that will attempt to pick you off from a distance. You'll quickly learn the weakness of each enemy type, and most can be put in their place by a simple headshot. The AI is decent enough, as many enemies will try to weave in between your fire or take cover.

Bloodvision, your infrared vampire sight, will highlight enemies and reveal your location, better allowing you to dispatch them. You'll come to rely on this feature quite a bit, as most of the environments are too dark to see the enemies without it.

To move through the game, you must either destroy all the enemies in an area, activate switches or wheels, or destory a "mark of evil", a structure that spawns enemies until you destroy it. These three objectives are pretty much what you'll be doing in each area, and the repetitive tasks can take away from the enjoyment of the game. This was my main gripe with Darkwatch, it simply became too repetitive and I found myself trudging through the environments rather than enjoying the experience.

This monotony is slightly broken up by the rare horseback level, where you'll gun down ghost riders while trying to reach your next objective. These are too short to be really memorable, and too rare to get too in depth. There's even a mission where you'll drive a dune buggy with a gun turrent, but this vehicle is horribly annoying and not the least bit of fun to operate. The level where you have to drive it is my least favorite part of the game, and thankfully this too is only breifly touched upon, making it a hardly notable gameplay feature.

Overall, Darkwatch is an attempt to sew a bunch of ideas that worked in other games together to create a new experience, but suffers from a "been there, done that" syndrome and shallow gameplay concepts. The fun factor in this game makes for the most disappointing aspect, as I found myself unable to throughly enjoy the game due to these flaws. It looks nice, if a little too dark in some places, and it sounds nice when there's music, but the graphics and audio weren't enough to save the game. This is one you'll want to rent.

Rating: 6

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