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Dark Void Preview

By Joe Dodson, 9/16/2009

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One game that caught my attention as I cruised the PAX show floor was Dark Void, the upcoming third-person action game from Capcom. We've been curious about this game for several reasons, among them the vertical combat, the crazy jetpacks, and the fact that the studio behind Dark Void is comprised of former FASA devs, who are known for the excellent aerial shooter, Crimson Skies. We were also interested in the game's notion of "Vertical combat," although this didn't appear to be on display at the expo.

Our demo for Dark Void started with a bearded gentleman at the demo console. In the game, he was running down what looked like a typical corridor shooting rather typical robots with a machine gun. Despite the uninspired enemies, the action looked fun: he would take cover behind a crate, shoot robots in the face, and then, if one got too close, he would pop out and bash its processors in with powerful strikes.

After clearing the enemies, he approached an opening at the end of the room which appeared to lead outside. A prompt on the screen said something like "Press 'Y' to use jetpack!" and the fellow obliged. However, neither he nor I was ready for what happened next, though perhaps, in retrospect, we should have been. The jetpack fired forward, dragging the player through space and straight into a crate which his legs clipped, sending him in a spinning cartwheel up to the ceiling, which he bounced off of like a pinball before crashing with his full body into an adjacent wall. He seemed to fold like an accordion before his jetpack cut out, sending his crushed body to the floor where it lay in a very dead heap.

Everyone watching burst into laughter, including the guy playing. He asked me if I wanted to take a crack at it, and I stepped up, thinking "Well duh, of course that's what would happen if you used a jetpack indoors." So like the professional gaming journalist I am, I went outside before I turned on the jetpack. The area I was in was like a large balcony without a railing. This looked over a basically endless drop. Ready for awesome aerobatic action, I hit 'Y' and the jetpack took off like a race horse, except that it shot down into the ground instead of up into the air. I was like a skipping stone, my face smacking the steel floor as I bounced quickly and violently across the balcony, and off into the dark void below.

The jetpack strikes again!

Humbled, I hit "Continue" and tried a new approach. I jumped into the air, and then hit the jump button again. This caused my jetpack to activate gently, holding me in the air about six feet above the ground. From there, well away from any hard surfaces, I tentatively poked the Y button. And though the pack fired away like a wild stallion, it fired me into free space, and I quickly gained control. When you aren't bouncing off walls or beating yourself to death against a floor, the jetpack in Dark Void handles very much like an airplane in any other game. The left stick controls your legs, which are the rudder, and the right stick rolls your body to either side. Meanwhile, the right trigger fired my shoulder mounted machine gun. I swooped around, shooting this and that before handing off the controller to another would-be rocketeer.

My current impression of Dark Void is that it's a decent third-person action game with a jetpack-fueled wild streak. The game is fun on purpose, and hilarious on accident. I look forward to seeing this dynamic play out over the course of a whole game, especially since it's easy to imagine that the aerial bits and the ground portions will tie perfectly together. After all, the map we played on was composed of several towers, each containing a mini indoor level. To beat the level, you had to fly from area to area, which kept things fresh. We did not see the ladder-like vertical combat, in which you're supposed to leap from crevice to crevice, shooting at enemies above and below you. When we do, we'll let you know how that looks, and give you updated impressions on this exciting and unorthodox action game.



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