|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Airtight Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 19, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
January 2, 2009 - Anyone who owned an original Xbox and also enjoys aerial acrobatics and dogfighting has likely heard of Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. This title was an early showcase for the excellent graphics and gameplay possible on the fledgling platform. With its unique alternate history take on the world and its sheer quality, Crimson Skies managed to develop a major following. As time went on, a sequel seemed more and more unlikely until it eventually appeared as though it would never happen. While this is still the case, many members of the Crimson Skies team are working together on a new game that seems very much like the spiritual successor to this beloved title.
Similar to the mixture of archaic merged with modern vibe found in Crimson Skies, Dark Void takes place in the 1930s but quickly gets a futuristic injection. You will play as Will, a cargo pilot who happens to choose a poor flight path that leads him through the Bermuda Triangle. Before he makes it out of this mysterious airspace, he is transported to an alternate dimension called The Void. This dimension is home to some very hostile aliens known as Watchers. While little is known about their motives or intentions, they definitely don't seem to want Will to live to tell about them.
Fortunately, Will isn't the only human unlucky enough to find himself stranded in The Void. He quickly stumbles upon a collection of other unfortunate souls, and together they seek to create a giant airship capable of escaping from The Void. While it doesn't seem like you will receive much direct help, your fellow humans should provide you with useful information and perhaps some helpful items.
Since the game takes place in the 1930s, the weapons and equipment you start out with are quite old and underpowered. As you make your way through The Void, Watcher technology can be acquired and used to suit your needs. This technology will come in the form of more futuristic weapons, a hover/rocket pack, and even controllable UFOs. All of your equipment throughout the game will also be upgradeable, so players can expect controlling Will to feel like playing as a one man army by the end of the title.
The majority of Dark Void's gameplay is not unlike that found in many third-person shooters, with Will taking cover behind objects and firing at his enemies. As one would expect, players will be able to blind fire, peak out from behind cover, and even perform execution moves during combat. While these abilities are useful and seem well done, they are also incredibly similar to those found in most other games in the same genre. The way that Dark Void sets itself apart from the pack is in its verticality.
Early on, players will acquire a hover pack, eventually upgrading to a rocket pack, which literally makes the sky the limit. As a hover pack, players will be able to use it to glide around, slow their descent, and flank enemies from overhead. However, once you've upgraded to a rocket pack, you will actually be able to fly just about anywhere at any time. This opens up quite a few interesting opportunities, especially when combined with the cover mechanic.
In most third-person shooters, players walk across battlefields seeking refuge behind any walls or objects they manage to come across. While this kind of gameplay exists in Dark Void, players will also find themselves taking vertical cover. This consists of flying up the side of a building or cliff, ducking behind anything that happens to jut out from its side. Hiding behind outcroppings, players can dispatch Watchers in standard peak and shoot fashion or can simply pull them off a cliff and watch them fall to their doom. This seems like it will create some interesting firefights, but it may also be difficult for players who can easily become motion sick.
While flying with Will's rocket pack, players will also be confronted by interesting-looking, but dangerous, Watcher UFOs. These circular UFOs are made up of an inner and outer ring that can move somewhat independently. The inner ring houses the ships' weaponry and pilots, while the outer ring is home to the crafts' engines. When Will manages to fly closely to an enemy UFO, he will be able to attempt to steal the ship for his own uses. Jumping between four polar positions on the outer ring, players will need to avoid turret fire while trying to remove a panel and scramble some circuits. When the panel is opened, the pilot of the ship will attempt to attack Will, allowing him to finally gain control of the UFO after tossing the pilot over the side.
This is where Dark Void will begin to remind fans of Crimson Skies. Players will be able to perform a plethora of aerial stunts and maneuvers that will be invaluable while dogfighting with other airborne crafts. It was even stated that anyone who played Crimson Skies would easily be able to pick up the controller and instantly know how to pilot these vehicles. This is great news considering how well the controls worked in Crimson Skies, especially when in combat.
While we may never get a true sequel to Crimson Skies, Dark Void looks like it will be an interesting spiritual successor. By adding a sci-fi theme and an on-ground third-person shooting element to the flight mechanics from Crimson Skies, Dark Void could very well surpass many fans' expectations for a true sequel to the classic title anyway. Either way, whether you are a longtime fan of Crimson Skies or are just looking for a new third-person shooter with a twist, Dark Void could be exactly what you're seeking. We'll have to wait until it is finally released to know for sure, but this one is already looking quite promising.
CCC Staff Contributor