previews\ Jan 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Dark Void - 360 - Preview 4

Jet packs, cybernetic humanoid enemies, alien beasties … yep, that sounds like makings of a decent action-adventure title.

Dark Void brings the action in spades, from the moment you launch the title to the up-tempo shooter action of the first imperatives … err, missions.

The tutorial level prior to the launching of the main game arc makes it apparent this title is combining several different elements, and doing it flawlessly. Airtight Games, the dev team behind this Capcom release, understand that while the foundations of familiarity within the game give players a reference point, once that is established, the game can go wherever the imagination pulls it. And where it pulls it is into a compelling world that is at once mysterious, inviting and deadly.

The setting is an alternate world called ‘The Void,’ that has still has some of the trappings of Earth. There is a Bermuda Triangle, and that is precisely where the protagonists find themselves when the game actually kicks into gear. But prior to that, the players are treated to a taste of the aerial combat. Strap on those jet-packs, kiddies, it’s time to hunt big game – you know, the kind that has propellers. The aerial combat is handled well, though those that are familiar with games that sport three-dimensional control schemes (as in almost every aerial combat game on the market from World War II titles to Star Wars games) will recognize the mechanics. What makes Dark Void’s aerial sequence more surreal and a bit more urgent is that the protagonist is not wrapped up in a metal screen absorbs minor damage. Nope, it’s just him, his natty jungle attire, a couple of guns and that jet pack. George of the Jungle may have had to watch out for that tree, but the Dark Void characters have a lot more to be concerned with – like bullets, planes, floating land masses … you know, the objects you don’t want to face plant or get clipped by.

Once that portion is done, it’s on to the main course – the central story arc, which involves a crash landing, some deadly and exotic wildlife that seems to be infused with metal (holy island of Mech Dr. Moreau!) and humanoids that are very well armed. The shooter-combat elements are handled from a third-person perspective, and the controlled character can pick up ammo, use cover, fire over and around obstacles he is glued to for reasons of self-preservation, and generally goes through most of the tumbling and climbing routines that seem to have become a standard for third-person shooters.

The action, though, is tight, and the graphics are quite compelling. The game also fires smoothly on the audio cylinders. Sure, there are a few moments where the intelligence of the non-controlled characters seems a bit suspect, but it’s understandably part of driving the storyline.

There is a fair amount of hype surrounding Dark Void and even from the early burn and preview disk that is understandable. The title is slated to go retail on the 19th of this month, and will be available on the PS3, 360 and PC platforms.

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