E3 2008: Dark Void Hands-On Preview

The original developers of Crimson Skies, FASA studio, may not exist anymore, but they live on, quite literally, in Airtight Studios. With their first title, Dark Void, Airtight might receive a bit of criticism for creating another third-person Gears of War clone. Hopefully that criticism will be retracted quickly after players see that the game has more in common with the comic book hero The Rocketeer than big burly space marines drowning in their own testosterone. No offense to the latter, of course.

For a game with a mid-2009 release date, Dark Void looked and played fantastic. Jumping in and out of cover and using blind-fire felt as natural as it does in other similar titles such as Dark Sector and Gears of War. Using the jet pack to reach higher ledges and engage in air-to-ground combat opened up the combat – making the gameplay feel far less linear than the offerings found in the aforementioned competition.

The Crimson Skies influences started to rapidly reveal themselves the moment the heroine stumbled across an upgrade for the jetpack allowing sustained flight for long periods of time. In fact, almost all of the mid-air maneuvers from the Xbox classic, executed by simultaneously pushing in the left and right analog sticks, have been transferred over. Once a UFO is hijacked, made possible by flying up to the steampunkian/Nikolai Tesla-esque flying machine and completing a quick-time-event minigame, the game basically turns into Crimson Skies 2. This is not a knock against the game, but rather a commendation for its ability to faithfully incorporate varying modes of play to great effect.

Unfortunately, the game had all of those nagging problems associated with a work-in-progress such as falling into bottomless pits that didn’t exist, low framerate, etc, but that really goes without saying.

Like we said, Airtight has almost a full year of development left. For some studios, that’s an entire development cycle; for others it’s time to implement one more npc to marry. Hopefully it’s enough time for them to give the game some much-needed polish and become an even greater development house than their spiritual predecessor.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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