Dark Sector Mixes it Up!
Dark Sector is a game with a rich history. It was announced almost three years ago as the first “next-gen” title for the PlayStation 3 and the then-titled Xbox Next. Early screenshots wowed early-on, but as gamers increasingly looked forward to the next generation of games, games like Assassin’s Creed and Halo 3 quickly became the face of next-gen gaming, and Dark Sector faded into the background. But many people still remember Dark Sector, and now that it is finally out, the anticipation is at an end.
Dark Sector is essentially a shooter-type game with a superhero twist. You play as Hayden, a soldier with a somewhat shady reputation. Hayden has been tapped to infiltrate a biohazard zone filled with a whole bunch of mutated human experiments, and in the process of trying to investigate the situation as well as dispose of some undesirables, he becomes infected himself. One thing that is immediately noticeable to the experienced gamer about Dark Sector is how heavily it borrows from pre-existing series. The gunplay and combat is largely reminiscent of Gears of War, and has you ducking behind things and using over-the-shoulder aiming to attack your enemies. The gameplay also has you fighting many zombie-looking “infected,” which physically and characteristically resemble the Resident Evil zombies. And of course, let’s not forget the obvious connection between your mutated main character and the fabled mutants of X-Men.
But despite all the comparisons to pre-existing material, there is one aspect of this game that is totally original and probably the best aspect of the game: the glaive. The glaive is the weapon that you get as a result of being infected with the virus that has transformed everyone else into zombies. It’s not fair, but c’est la vie. The glaive is a triple bladed boomerang-type weapon that you can throw at enemies, and it will automatically come back. And while this may not seem very cool at first, as you play the game, the glaive evolves, and that is where it gets to be fun. You learn how to steal ammo and guns from the enemy, charge your weapon with electricity and ice, and eventually (and this is the best part) you’ll learn how to slow down time and control the exact trajectory of your glaive. The last element is extremely cool for gore aficionados because you are able to pilot your glaive in such a way that you can decapitate and dismember your enemies in delicious detail. Of course if you’re not into that kind of thing, the slow-down technique is still pretty useful as it gives you an amazing amount of control over your kills. The glaive is definitely the selling point of Dark Sector, and it is cool enough to merit this distinction.
Online modes are probably the most forgettable aspect of this game. There are only a handful of maps, and only two ways to play: Infection and Epidemic. Infection mode pits all players against one player who is randomly selected to play as main character Hayden. Whoever the kills the Hayden character will respawn as Hayden. Infection is timed, and whoever kills Hayden the most is victorious. Epidemic mode is the more team-based online mode. There are two teams, each with their own Hayden character, and the goal is to kill the other team’s Hayden. These two online modes are way too simplistic and honestly feel tacked-on. There is so much more that could have been done to create a deep and memorable online experience, and I feel that this deficiency could have been avoided.
Controls in this game are pretty simple. You move around using the left stick and look around using the right stick. You are able to aim your weapon using the left trigger and are able to fire the glaive using the right shoulder button or your firearm via the right trigger. The right face button serves as your action button and does everything from opening doors to climbing ladders. Controls work extremely well, mostly because they are so similar to controls in existing games that you’ve already played. But like most other facets of Dark Sector that resemble other games, this works in Dark Sector’s favor and makes the controls largely accessible, especially to experienced gamers.
Graphics in this title are definitely above par and feature rich and complex environments. Characters in cinema scenes look fairly good, but character detail is a little lacking in-game. The game is presented in full HD up to 1080p, and this is definitely apparent when you see the lighting and water effects. One of the best facets of this game in terms of visuals has to be the action scenes. There was one particularity memorable scene in the second level that featured a giant, hairy monster. And while the monster itself wasn’t that impressive, the animation was really spectacular during this fight, and I was impressed by the fluidity and framerate consistency during this scene.
Sound in this game is pretty mediocre, and features some largely uninspiring stage music and some pretty generic sound effects. The voice acting isn’t too bad, but I think this title could have benefited immensely if a little more attention was paid to the sound. Some of the levels are quite creepy, especially ones where zombies are after you, but they fall short of being actually scary because the music just doesn’t match the situation.
Dark Sector can best be described as a game born out of a formula. To create this game, you will need 2 parts Gears of War, 1 part Resident Evil, and a dash of X-Men. It is totally easy to rip this game to shreds based on this description. But as you play this game, something unexpected happens: you find yourself having an amazing amount of fun. Even though this game pulls largely from pre-existing material, it seems to have pulled everything that was enjoyable about these series and compiled it into a game that is unexpectedly fun. To its credit, it does produce some type of originality with the glaive weapon. But that’s not enough to make this a great game. A fun and amusing game perhaps, but if you’re looking for a whole lot of substance, this isn’t the game for you. But if you like beheading foes in slow-mo, then you’ll have a great time with Dark Sector!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Cinematic visuals look great, and in-game visuals aren’t too bad either. Not as much detail as some other current gen titles, but the excellent action animation makes up for this. 3.9 Control
Very easy to use at first, but some of the complexities of the glaive take a little practice to get used to. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is fair throughout, and voice acting is only slightly above average. 3.5 Play Value
This game is incredibly formulaic, but for some reason it is incredibly fun to play. The online modes are extremely simple and forgettable, but you will definitely have fun during the single player story mode. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.