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Tuesday | October 16, 2018
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Dark Sector

Dark Sector

Dark Sector puts you in the role of Hayden Tenno, a government agent sent into Lasria to take care of a bad guy called Mezner. This dude has a hold of a toxin which mutates everyone into hideous monsters, so its up to you to put an end to his diabolical plans. Unfortunately you dont get off to a good start when your first confrontation with Mezner goes pear shaped and you end up being infected with the virus you have been sent to stop.

This infection starts to mutate Haydens arm, in turn giving him some incredible powers, ranging from defensive telekinetic shields to offensive blade attacks. Before I continue, let me just say, this game plays similar to Gears Of Wear so if you are a fan, then it would be fair to say you will probably immediately warm to Dark Sector as well.

Again, like Gears Of War, you will find yourself taking cover on a regular basis and peeking out to take care of the enemy and just like real life, some of these objects, like wooden crates can be destroyed with gunfire. The controls will be immediately intuitive to any semi seasoned gamer, and thankfully the game developers have also included a run button (X).

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So far the game sounds rather uneventful and run of the mill, however it does have an edge in the shape of the Glaive. This weapon is one of the best designed I have seen in a first person shooter in recent years and is basically a huge Ninja Gaiden style shuriken star. Hayden throws this weapon just like a boomerang and can cause some insane damage, especially from long range. Hayden also has two weapon slots which are controlled by the D-Pad. The right slot is the pistol slot and the left is for the shotgun and rifle, and the weapons compliment the Glaive very well.

When entering combat we have the usual “run and shoot” options (guns are fired with R1), but there is also the option to use the Glaive with the L1 button. By pressing this button it changes into an over the shoulder view point. By pressing R2 the Glaive can be thrown to mutilate the enemy. The real fun however by using this weapon is the fact that not only can we control the weapon in a bullet time style mode once fired, but it has the power to cut through multiple foes leaving a trail of blood in its wake.

The Glaive really is the selling point of the game as there has been considerable attention to detail and programming expertise involved with its creation because it can also interact with specific environmental objects such as opening doors from long range.

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The Glaive gets more powerful as you progress, with power throws (hold button and release when the graphic turns yellow) that can break chains and slice a person in two with one strike. Gory? Hell Yes ! The versatility of the Glaive doesnt end here however, you can also pick up ammo and objects with it, and use it to solve some rather devious puzzles at key points throughout the game. Aftertouch is important and is achieved by holding the R2 button after the Glaive is launched which changes the camera to just behind the flying star in slow mo. Using the right analog stick (or sixaxis on the Playstation 3) you can then control the weapon as it travels through the air.

Imagine two guys behind a small wall, your gun cant harm them, so you launch the Glaive, go into slow-mo, decapitate the first guy, then cut the second enemy into two, before they even know what hit them. With Aftertouch the control is sublime and with a little practise some of the manoeuvres you can execute are wonderful to behold. Did I also mention it is extremely gory? Bonus points for that I say…

Dark Sector is all about the combat, and the coolness doesnt end with the Glaive either. If a foe is near death he will glow red, giving you a chance to run in and press the circle button for a finishing move. These vary depending on the enemy and can be snapping someones neck or slicing off his arm and hitting him over the head with it (yeahh!!). Funny thing is, they say Manhunt is violent when this is clearly a much more brutal game, perhaps this is why it was banned in Australia…

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Weapons can also be bought via the black market options with the money found and can be upgraded  as well with hidden powerups located in various places throughout the game maps. The weapons are really good and the player never seems to be low on ammo either (which is another bonus), however in my humble opinion they really do all play second fiddle to the awesome Glaive. Melee combat really is not that great and is hardly ever needed, which is just as well as the damage system is all messed up and it appears to be more hit and miss than skilful timing.

As you can expect from reading this, Hayden is one kick ass fighter and the wealth of weapons available really transform this game from a very average title into something extremely fun to play, especially as the character you control is a mean fragging machine. The game plays very well until the latter half, when it starts to get a little bit repetitive and somewhat boring. As Hayden learns more powers at specific intervals it feels as if we are following a linear path to the ending, which, without ruining anything, is a monumental let down. Serious Sam comes to mind… wave after wave of monsters to fight. The game is very linear and the triggered sequences are very easy to spot, and ruin the atmosphere considerably.

Sadly while the combat and weaponry is exceptional, the storyline is very under developed and unfocused. There are several (apparent) key characters in the game however there is no back story or history which made me feel no connection at all to them. Some of the scripted scenes also make no sense as it seems they are referring to a back story we are never really truly let in on. Even Mezner is a shallow, two dimensional stereotype who never really makes an impact.

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Multiplayer is catered for via online and LAN options, and there are two modes. Epidemic splits the players into teams, with one person controlling Hayden and the others a bunch of guards. Kill the other teams Hayden and you end up being Hayden in the next round. Infection is a VIP match with one person controlling Hayden while everyone else tries to take him out, whoever takes out Hayden becomes him in the next round.

There are five multiplayer maps in total and I found it relatively fun for a few days, then all my friends including myself got bored and moved on. If you end up never getting control of Hayden it becomes a chore rather than a rush, as the guards are just no match at all for the supercharged hero. Apparently there is already a community really into this game online however most of my multiplayer fun came from LAN with some friends.

Graphically, I found Dark Sector a very polished game … generally. I say generally, because the cut scenes are quite substandard which doesnt tie in with the in game high quality graphical effects, such as the lighting. If I was being critical I would say that some of the textures are rather low resolution, such as the ground surfaces, however in the heat of action it is a very minor complaint. Also, the level design while stunning, is quite repetitive and has little variation between levels. Playstation 3 owners will be pleased to hear that the game looks and runs just as well as it does on the Xbox 360. There is very little to distinguish between the two.

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Replay value is low as you can spend all your money upgrading and buying weapons, only to find that replaying the game at a higher difficulty setting means you lose all your weapons. This wouldnt be so bad if you could own most of the them by the end of the game, but the game isnt really long enough to have a full compliment of game weapons by the time it ends. So you have to start all over again…

Overall however Dark Sector is a very playable game and will appeal to the gore mongers amongst you who like to cut people up into little chunks and like to use a lot of fantastic and powerful weapons within a first person shooter environment. The graphics are very nice and the sound is also highly polished with Michael Rosenbaum providing the voice of our hero. The game however can become quite tedious and repetitive and I was quite pleased to get it over due to a lack of variety in level design.

Recommended, however it will not be for everyone, especially if you found F.E.A.R. boring.

A lot of fun killing tons of bad guys, just not enough variety to give it anymore.
Polished graphics only ruined by some dodgy cutscenes.
Professional voice acting and a nice plethora of ambient sound effects to set the mood.
Not the longest single player game at around 10 hours, multiplayer is distinctly average.
(Not an Average)
Will appeal to a hard core audience of FPS fanatics, but it might not prove to have enough variety for the rest of the gaming crowd.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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