Review by Chrono_teeth
There is something to be said about a game such as this. In 2004, Dark Sector was announced as the very first game to be created for next gen platforms. At the time, it was to be a first person shooter set in a science fiction universe. Yet, on one day 2 years later, a developer noticed a bug when he was testing out a gravity device originally intended for the game. This bug made the blood flow never stop, and at that moment everything began to change into the final product seen today: the non-stop, action filled, glaive kill-a-thon that'll appease anyone who's looking for one grand adventure.
Dark Sector takes the best of many games, and throws in its own unique twists as well. The Glaive, the big primary focus of the game, is simple in execution, but complex in its variety. You can simply just toss it at an enemy, or you could throw it into an electricity source, power throw and steer it around the corner where the enemy hides, stun him with an elemental explosion while running up to him, and finish him off with a nice gory arm chop, as well as toss it at his firearm and pick it up for some quick fun with the rest of the enemies.. The glaive is pretty much integrated into everything, from puzzles to combat, and even exploration. This three bladed boomerang will be your greatest ally against your opposition, and is easily one of the coolest weapons in videogame history.
While the guns may play second fiddle to the glaive, they're no slouch either. Taking a hint from Resident Evil 4, you buy your weapons at various black market stores, and upgrade them by finding the upgrades out on the field. You can pick up the enemy's weapons as well, but can't hold onto them for long. A cover system is also implemented, similar to gears of war. It isnt as refined as that game, but it works well, no complaints there. There's also some more powers to get in the future, but I won't spoil that much. Enemy variety is large and hard, this game is no slouch. It's not difficult, but neither is it easy. Pretty much if you're not on your toes, you'll end up dead. There's even a lil' bit of vehicle gameplay, and although there's only one vehicle, it leads for a great way to change the pace. All in all though, this game is flat out fun, plain and simple. Sure, it may not have 100% original gameplay ideas, but it's refined to a pulp. Combine that with easy controls, and there's nothing wrong with this. On a side note, the sensitivity seems a little strange at first. Best to lower it or raise it a bit, as the default sensitivity isn't the best.
Dark Sector's story is conveyed wonderfully, and it is indeed both an excellent job on both the actors and the writer's part, but the only problem is that it's thin. An infection spreads throughout the small fictional Russian country of Lasria that drives it's denizens mad due to the extreme pain. Hayden Tenno, a CIA operative who's job is to take out the Antagonist Mezner, gets infected after the mission goes wrong. Unlike the other people, he has Congenital Analgia. No pain, no madness. It's strong within the beginning, but the majority of the game (the middle) only has a little bit of story to chug it along. Just as it picks up near the end, the game's done, only answering some questions, but posing more. There are some surprise twists, and to see Hayden evolve from a normal human to a "dark superhero" is pretty cool, but all in all it's a nice script that could of benefited from a few more lines (And don't worry, no cliff hangers).
Attention to detail is an understatement. Digital Extreme's Evolution engine delivers such breathtaking vistas and wonderful scenery, the images of a country gone to hell are done wonderfully. Water ripping across your skin during a rainy day, little leaves flowing through the setting sun, there's no doubting that Dark Sector is a graphical powerhouse, easily up to par with what the big triple A titles have to offer today, and sometimes then-some. Environment variety may not be the biggest thing in the world, but whats there makes you forget that "this level was a sewer level?". To top it off, it runs at a silky smooth 30 FPS, and doesn't lower down (On a side note, it spikes to 60 FPS at times as well). Loading times are both short in numbers and short in speed, so it's all good there.
Then comes the sound. Oh my lord, there is nothing bad I can say about it. Everything sounds so damn fresh, it's like you were at a sound studio. Not only are the sounds so great, but they feel right too. The blood curdling death screams, the thick gun shots, even the little things like walking over different floors have different sounds, and that glaive spin, whoa boy! That sucker sounds like it's whipping through the air like cat-o-nine tails! Voice acting is amazing as well, all the actors do such a fine job of portraying their characters, especially Hayden's. The music steals the center show though. It's amazing at what these guys can do. They make a wonderful track that takes the normal epic and gives it its own personal little freaky evil/overbearing touches. It'll make your spine tingle, your heart beat, and mind think.
Playtime/Replay Value: 8/10
Unfortunately, this game doesn't offer much in terms of things to do after you're done. There is a multiplayer mode with only two game modes (Epidemic and Infection) that, while fun to pass the time for a bit, unless they fix up the slight lag and balance it out more it's mostly forgettable (Personally I think it shouldnt of been in there, and more SP things). Majority of the achievements can be unlocked from a first playthrough, and afterwards you only get "brutal mode" (Die faster/enemies slightly harder to kill) after playing the game. No weapons keepin' after the game is done, no nothin'. There is a nice level select mode after and playing the game with different weapon load outs can be entertaining, but it's one of those games that after you finish brutal mode and get the rest of those simple, there isn't much to come back to, not until a while later. Still, that being said, the game is surprisingly long. Normally it'd probably be about 13-16 hours a playthrough, but if you're like me and do a lot of searching for money, boxes, and upgrades and generally take your time, this game can actually stretch into the 20-22 hour length. Nice size, considering most of today's action outings.
Final verdict? Buy!
If you like fantastic vistas, amazing sound, gameplay that never lets up, and enjoy an unforgettable experience, then by all means pick this up. It may not have much to do afterwards, but then again, it has to be said that this is an amazing experience. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for those who appreciate titles like this will most certainly agree it's a diamond in the rough. There is one thing I would like to add though, a lot of people say they feel something strange when playing this, and I too have had the same feeling. It's not a sick feeling, it's just an odd feeling, a strange warmth that makes me question. Its not either positive or negative, it just gives off this strange vibe that just feels right. If you enjoy having a strange warmth inside, then you'll love this game!
Product Release: Dark Sector (US, 03/25/08)
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