Darkwatch Review

Darkwatch has had a very long and tumultuous production life. Sometimes this means that the finished product is top notch, but most games that are caught in production limbo go the way of Daikatana. After getting tossed around from production house to production house Darkwatch finally landed in the possession of High Moon Studios. The fledgling company took over the game about half way through its production life and finally brought it to market.

Playing as the character Jericho Cross, an infamous bank and train robber, the game begins with Jericho robbing what he thought to be his last train. When he reaches, what appears to be the safe he promptly blow off the door only to realize that he has released the vampire son of Satan onto the hapless Arizona Territory. In return for releasing him from his prison, the vampire lord promptly bites Jericho. If it was not for Cassidy, a member of the Darkwatch who was tasked with making sure the vampire lord reached his final destination; Jericho would have been sucked dry. With her help Jericho fights off the vampire and flees on horseback to the Darkwatch Citadel. Cassidy explains later that the Darkwatch are a secret society that protects the world from the unknown evils that lurk in the shadows. So now in an attempt stave off the inevitable destruction of the south west, Jericho teams up with Cassidy to return to the Darkwatch head quarters and warn them of the vampire lords escape.

Now the seemingly campy story plot has all of the needed elements, hapless hero, hot sidekick and really big bad guy. This is by no means the worst plot to be featured in a recent FPS, yet it falls short and really is only a weak attempt to set up a framework for fast paced shooter. Despite the extremely light story, Darkwatch is a moderately fun FPS for all nine or so hours of gameplay. From the get go, it is an extremely frantic, fast passed shooter. If you enjoy blasting away zombies by the dozens, then this is the game for you. In all honesty there really isn’t more to this game than that. Whether you are blowing away cowboy zombies or Indian zombies, it is basically the same level over and over and over. There is a varied number of enemies but they all fall into three categories; there are the basic ranged zombies and melee zombies, but then there is a big really fat thing that throws up everywhere. I still am really not sure what to think about the later, but its really disturbing to get thrown up on.

Despite the lack of varied gameplay, the one thing that I found very refreshing was the level design. The haunted western style with a hint of crude technology is pulled off very well. The levels vary from western gold towns to Indian burial grounds to the Darkwatch citadel, which is a very nice mixture of technology and pulp fiction. In the same way the artistic flare used in the characters and level design is top notch. The artistic flare makes up ground where the graphics falter.

Another extremely fun aspect of the game is the absolutely ridiculous arsenal of weapons at your disposal. You begin the game with the classic western six shooter, but go more than a dozen paces and you get your first taste of what the Darkwatch arsenal can offer you. The first Darkwatch weapon that you pick up off of a corpse is a pistol called the Redeemer. But I think calling the Redeemer a pistol is a little misleading, a more proper term for it would be hose. This “pistol” houses 36 shots which can be promptly emptied in less than three seconds. Ridiculous? Yes. Fun? Very. Other examples of weapons at your disposal include a cross bow with exploding bolts, a shotgun with 16 shots and a rocket launcher. For years I have been saying that the only way to make John Wayne more fun, would be to add a rocket launcher, and the Darkwatch seemed to listen.

As the popular saying goes “If you are going to steal, steal from the best” and it seems that High Moon Studios used this as their project motto. If anyone has played Halo for more than five minutes they will immediately realize that Darkwatch borrows very heavily from the Bungie classic. Jericho Cross can only carry two guns at once al la Halo. I feel that this gives the game a very good balance, but since every gun is available on every mission; I played 90% of the game with the same combo. Another thing which was borrowed from Halo was the idea of a health bar and a rechargeable shield, which is called your “blood shield”. Now if that is all they borrowed from Halo, I would have been able to forgive the, yet they borrowed far more. The “Coyote” is extremely similar to the “Warthog” from Halo, including the infinite capacity mounted machine gun. Also, the spirit of Cassidy comes and occupies Jericho’s head in an attempt to serve as a guide, much like Cortana in Halo. Even though all of these things are implemented nicely into the game, I cannot but wonder how much better this game could have been if the designers had only stopped playing Halo and thought up some game mechanics on their own.

I cannot remember the last time that I wanted to like a game so much, but just could not enjoy it. The story plot has so much untapped potential that it hurts. I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy Darkwatch at all, it started out as a crazy trip but after about five hours the repetitive gameplay the initial infatuation with the game quickly faded. The only thing that kept me playing this game through to the end was the bit of hope that the game’s untapped potential would come to fruition. Hope is such a liar. So definitely pass up on this one; nine hours of frustrating gameplay and a weak multiplayer does not justify spending $50. Overall it would still be a good candidate if you are looking to rent a game and beat it in a couple of days.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.