reviews\ Dec 8, 2002 at 7:00 pm

James Cameron's Dark Angel - PS2 - Review

James Cameron is well known for his colossal movie: Titanic. After this movie he decided to create a TV series, which he entitled Dark Angel. The premise of the show was to get an extremely gorgeous woman that has super powers, and a mysterious past, to figure out why she is the way she is. The show did really well, but was canceled after a couple of seasons. Since the show was a story of action, Sierra thought it would make the perfect game. Were they correct in this assumption?

The plot for the show, and the background for the game, is like this: it is the year 2009; terrorists unleashed an electromagnetic shockwave called the Pulse, upon the United States. The Pulse decimated the United States in every form, government, economic, and everything else, making it a third world country. Several years pass, and the government started to experiment on children to create the perfect solider. Max is one of these prototypes, who escaped from Manticore, the organization that created her, with eleven other children after they saw one of their friends murdered. Max went to Seattle; this city could be likened to what people would identify as the Wild West or what it was like over a century ago. Since her escape she has tried to find a way where she can identify herself as a normal human, and not just a killing machine.

As time progresses she becomes obsessed with finding the other children that escaped that night, since she can best relate to them. At a fateful encounter, she meets up with Logan Cale, a journalist, who wants to expose the corruption in Seattle. They came upon a mutual agreement, she will help him expose the sleaze in the city, and he will locate her eleven friends. Eventually they destroy Manticore, but they find out that another place was doing the same cruel experiments on children, the I Corporation. The I Corporation wants to capture Max since she is a perfect specimen to examine, but she wants break in, so she can find out more information on her past.

The TV show has Jessica Alba performing amazing moves, which translated decently into the game. Players will have access to all of these moves, weapons, and other things she possesses. The problem with the gameplay is players are continually thrown into the same situation over and over again during the entire course of the game. The only thing different from the beginning of the game and other levels, is the amount of enemies she fights and how much health they have. Once players defeat the enemies they will pick up a key, or a tool that will allow them to go to the next set of enemies to repeat the progress. The gamer has to continually fight hordes of the mindless AI, and the coolness of her moves wears off, after they see it for the five hundredth time. Besides fighting, players will have to sneak around, a lot like Metal Gear Solid, but it is not as fun or as in-depth. The enemy AI is exceptionally stupid, and it seems like they will not see you till you punch them in the face. The game just falls short on the fun factor, and becomes a chore to even play.

Max is modeled to look like her TV counter part, Jessica Alba. Sierra did a good job with the model, but it has an extremely low polygonal count and is not textured very well. The game looks decent, but it is not something players would want to show friends trying to convince them that the PlayStation 2 is a graphical powerhouse. One good thing is that the load times are not awfully bad, and I never came across any slow down while in the heat of battle.

Sierra decided to use the TV actors to voice over the characters in the game. This works out great, since players will get the sense that they are watching the TV show in a way. The bad thing about this is the scriptwriters gave some of the worst one-liners for Jessica Alba to say. Every time she beats an enemy she spurts out some lame quote, which gets annoying quickly!

James Cameron's Dark Angel is rated T for Teen for violence. It will take up to 170kb on your memory card.

Gameplay: 4.8
The level design is one of the weakest parts in the game, it becomes redundant and in turn will make gamers regret ever playing it. It seems like the level designers ran out of ideas when developing the game, and decided to use the same formula for every level. It is a shame that they did this, since this game could have been a success.

Graphics: 5.6
Dark Angel offers above average graphics, but it is not pushing the PlayStation 2 in any way. The character models and environments are basic and get the job done, nothing more and nothing less.

Sound: 4.9
Whoever decided that the one-liners Max says after she beats an enemy was cute, was grossly mistaken. That is one of the worst features of the entire game, mute button here we come!

Difficulty: Easy
See enemies, beat them up, pick up key, unlock door, and repeat. The game repeats itself on each level. Plus it has no strategy at all, making each enemy extremely easy to fight by just mashing buttons.

Concept: 5.0
This game tries to be Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, and The Bouncer, all in one package. The game has a been there done that feeling, with good reason. It would have been great if Dark Angel had been fun and worth the time to play it, but it is not.

Overall: 5.1
Stay away from this game at all costs, if you see it in the store, turn and run away now! James Cameron's Dark Angel shows some real potential, but it ends up relying on its brand recognition more than its gameplay. If you enjoy playing games that are fun, look for Metroid Prime, Mech Assault, or Ratchet and Clank, because they will be worth your money!


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