Way back when we still referred to the Xbox 360 as Xbox 2 and the new PlayStation as PS3 (we totally called it btw!) the development house behind Unreal Tournament 2003 showed off the first game for the next generation. That game was the sci-fi based Dark Sector.
Since the original trailer in April 2004 Digital Extremes has shifted the entire story of Dark Sector from a sci-fi stealth-action game to a more traditional third-person action-shooter. Why the change of heart? “After doing research and testing we found out people didn’t want a sci-fi storyline, but after we changed it people wanted it back” later adding that the team felt they wanted to tell more of a character based story than an environmental one.
In the game you play as Hayden Tenno, a covert operative sent to investigate strange happenings in an Eastern European city. While investigating the city of Lasria, Hayden becomes infected with the Technocyte virus — a brutal bio-weapon that turns the infected into killing machines.
Miraculously Hayden survives the attack but soon discovers his exposure to the Technocyte virus has given him inhuman abilities that he must use to investigate the bio-weapon and become the hero he was destined to become.
Built on its own engine specifically for the next-generation, Dark Sector, is a technically impressive game. While indoor environments had a basic hallways-with-water-damage look to them, the outdoor areas we saw were beautiful. In one of the missions Hayden was infiltrating, what appeared to be a castle, at dusk during a rainstorm. Hayden’s character model, two-part CIA black-op and one-part inhumanly enhanced, is well animated and very impressive. While the standard soldiers were carbon-copies of each other, later levels pit you against infected humans to change the pace of the action.
In keeping with their truly next-gen aesthetic, Dark Sector does not have any initial Heads-Up Display (HUD). Instead, a targeting reticle only appears when a weapon is being aimed and you can catch a quick glance of your ammunition when you reload. There were two core weapons in the Dark Sector demo. The first is your standard shooter fare; pistols, shotguns, machine guns and the second is the Glave.
The glave is one of the first abilities the Technocyte infection gives you. Acting as both a long range weapon and a brutal melee attack, the bladed disc shaped weapon is a devastating addition to your arsenal. While other abilities will aide Hayden in his quest, and the rep from D3 was tight lipped as to what they will be, the glave will be your primary go-to weapon.
Pressing the L2 button brings up the targeting reticle for your standard weapons and shifts the camera to an over-the-shoulder view while R1 fires the weapon. Pressing and holding the R2 button readies Hayden for a glave throw, where the harder you hold down the button the further the glave soars.
There were rumblings that the ESRB had D3 remove multiple trailers for graphic content related to the game, and its evident why there were concerns. While the game is not overly violent, a well calibrated glave toss can tear enemies into two neatly sheared pieced. And by getting in close and performing melee attacks to an enemy can result in a graphic finishing move that varies based on which enemy you face. Battles were intense and moody, perfectly in line with the feel of the game. While some A.I. and collision was apparent in the demo the game has quite some time before it releases.
While the glave can be used to dole out punishment it can also be used to solve environment puzzles and interact with the world in different ways. Reaching a locked door we realized the power was knocked out rendering the electronic locks inoperable, by tossing the glave into a nearby breaker box it electrocuted our bladed-boomerang and allowed us to restore power to progress through the mission. Using the same technique you can shock enemies who stick to water for a quick zap of electricity that ends their rampage.
The only issue we had when play it was running out of ammo. While you can pickup any fallen enemies weapons the games health system, similar to that of Call of Duty where coming closer to death will fill the screen read and wait for you to retreat to regenerate, seemed to work against us as the enemies were relentless in their pursuit to end our mission. The level we played, which was the third in the game, focuses on a sticky-cover system and firing around cover to survive– but we just wanted to watch the devastating finishing moves again and again.
While Dark Sector promises specifically designed next-gen gaming in its single-player campaign we were told to expect some exciting announcements for its multiplayer components. When we asked if we’d see the traditional deathmatch, capture the flag affair we were treated with a smile and a wait and see what we’re doing.
While the game mechanics don’t stray from those found in today’s popular titles; the story, controls and compelling lead character are original and warrant your attention.
Dark Sector looks and plays superbly in its current state and we’re happy to say that the first game to ever be announced for the next-generation should be on your radar in early 2008.
Dark Sector is hitting the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 later this year.
[Originally posted by Xav de Matos on THEBBPS] read