Time Travel has always been a fascinating subject for science fiction. The repercussion of traveling back in time, and abusing the power of changing the future through the use of time travel. Darkest of Days is an FPS that focuses largely on Time Travel for the Xbox 360 and PC.
Darkest of Days’ story starts you off during the American Civil war, on the edge of death only to be rescued by a time traveler. Your role is to find the “king of time”, or rather the inventor of a time traveling device. To do this you need to find clues of where he is in time by taking trips back in time to locate people connected to him in some way.
The story itself is probably the most interesting thing about the game, with a conflict between the company you were enrolled into and another time-traveling group who is supposedly causing a great deal of trouble. Deception springs up occasionally through contact with this other group, simply called as the Opposition.
The main character, like a great deal of the main characters in First person shooters, does not talk. With some games this isn’t so bothersome, however when you play a union soldier ripped from a time and thrust into other times and locations with technology well out of your area of expertise, it leaves you wanting to hear some exposition.
The locations you are taken to are rather normal in the beginning. World War 1, World War 2, Civil war. The weaponry, however is what makes these locations extraordinary. Learning to be careful with shots while using a flow loading musket, or getting used to the poor iron sights on most of the weapons is an interesting experience.
You learn to appreciate the advanced technology when you get it even more due to it’s accuracy, ease of use, and quick fire. These futuristic weapons, while some not particularly futuristic, are quite fun. A burst firing pistol, a auto aiming assault rifle, and the oh-so-awesome self guided sniper rifle are a great comparison to the extremely outdated weapons.
That is about the extent of the good in the game. Much of the rest of the game screams subpar performance. From the beginning there is some pretty evident poor animation. Characters moving a little awkwardly as they run. When you get up close and watch a character talk this becomes even worse while you watch this facade of a person speak like a puppet with a face that barely moves.
The graphics are rather poor. Weapons are nicely detailed, but there are a lot of blocky portions on a great deal of the people in the game. A particularly annoying part is the game’s tendency to poorly render the muzzle flash from pistols. Usually it’s not something too noticeable, but when big pixels spray off the barrel of your pistol it reflect poorly.
Even worse is the game’s tendency to have a poor framerate. There are times in the game where the game chugs along like you’re trying to play Crysis on a PC from the 1980s. If the graphic quality were better it’d be understandable, but there’s no defense for this when a small handful of enemies are on the screen and you get down to 3 frames per second.
The game does bring a lot of character onto the screen at some points in the game, most of which are identical. It would be nice, if they had a decent AI. Enemies will often let you run up to them so you can plunge a bayonet into their gut, or fire a round into their chin from point blank. They’ll spend a few minutes outside trying to shoot at you through a building, then miraculously jump from the cover they were crouched behind to two feet from the door.
Darkest of Days does not seem to have been developed with any intention of being made for the 360. The interface to join the game is painfully dull, and looks like command windows from Windows 98. They’re also extremely unfriendly to Standard Definition TVs, with they’re extremely small text.
Possibly the thing that bothers me the most is it’s freezing. Once the game started to use the futuristic weapons more often I got to a point during a Civil War mission where I could not proceed. Escorting a confederate leader to safety caused me to freeze at the same place repeatedly, with no fix.
This could largely be due to the copy I got from Gamefly somehow being damaged, but even saving the game to my harddrive offered no fix. This left me with no choice but to stop playing. This game stopping experience just produced frustration, especially with the story being largely unfinished to me, and the most interesting level, Pompeii, being out of my reach.
Darkest of Days has an interesting story, despite the awkwardly quiet main character, and some fairly interesting locals and weaponry. In large none of this makes up for the game’s quality. Poor graphics, terrible framerate, bad animation, and idiotic AI shows a serious lack of polish.