Dark Void, a Xbox 360 game review

Steampunk, greenpunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, bio punk and many more. A new one, which I haven’t quite heard before, is Teslapunk, a style where the world is focused around Nikola Tesla’s electricity powered slap-dash inventions. While he certainly wouldn’t have alive during the events of the game, Tesla plays a major part in Dark Void, a game developed by former FASA studio members Airtight games, and published by Capcom for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Where Dark Void shines is in largely the cosmetic. The game’s graphics, and art design are quite good. The difference between the humans and the watchers, the enemies in the game, are really well done by means of the weapons, armor and vehicles that are used. It would have been nice to see a little more influence from Tesla in the human weapons, but in large the distinct design chosen of a clean, sleek design for the watchers and equipment cobbled together from scraps is a smart one. The quality of graphics isn’t exceptionally high, but it’s also not disappointing in anyway.

The audio quality in the game is great. Good cast of actors, led by the always amazing Nolan North using his best Nathan Fillion voice. The soundtrack for the game, composed by Bear McCreary who worked on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, has crafted a really nice soundtrack for the game.

The biggest draw to this game for me was the developer’s history. Airtight is composed of people who worked on Crimson Skies, one of the best original Xbox games to exist. So I had hopped that Dark Void would be as great a game as Crimson Skies was. I am saddened to say that it is not.

The main draw to the game is that it’s a Gears of War style shooter with a jetpack, and really that’s all it is. The third person shooter aspect is quite similar to Gears of War with the only major exception being that it’s not as gore intensive. The jetpack itself in these situations acts as little more than a hovering feature. The limited number of weapons, while upgradeable, don’t vary enough to actually justify changing from using the same two weapons for the entire game.

The jetpack is more useful in the dogfights, but even then it’s not really anything impressive. There are all of three ways to fly in the game. Jetpack, allied plane, and a high jacked enemy ship which takes more effort to gain control of than you use it for. Using an enemy ship is only useful in a handful of situations, you’ll hardly every find an allied plane that isn’t bursting into flames, and the jetpack feels extremely vulnerable to everything else.

I would often find myself preferring to just find a stationary gun and using it to take down the airborne enemies due to the disappointing controls of the jetpack. In large the jetpack seems very ineffective until you unlock the ability to fire rockets, and even then the controls are a bit too awkward to really make flying with the jetpack all that fun.

The animation for the jetpack itself is also somewhat awkward as the main character constantly seems to not really be in complete control of his jetpack through out the entire game. I really would have expected some change in these animations after the game’s flash forward in the story, but even in the final battle there’s a clear lack of control the main character lacks. It’s a minor complaint, but a bit disappointing when the game’s main focus is the jetpack.

There’s a story in the game, but much of it seems to be lost in the levels. The story is so rushed that the actual importance of some characters are largely lost for a while. The game takes place in what would seem to be strictly a sci-fi setting, only to bring in prophecies and some weird matrix-like nonsense a little later into the game. This setting only works to make the final boss an even more bizarre choice.

Dark Void is a game that greatly disappoints. Cosmetically the game is pretty impressive. A nice art style, good graphics and some great voice acting. Unfortunately much of the rest of the game is incredibly unimpressive. The mixture of arcade flight and third person shooter doesn’t really work well. The jetpack is a poorly utilized gimmick, the shooter gameplay isn’t really impressive, and the lack of variety, along with a hugely disappointing lack of any sort of online really make a game from an amazing developer past utterly regrettable product. The game’s fine for a rental, but with other, more potentially entertaining games coming out shortly it’s hard to suggest buying this game.

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