E3 '07: Dark Sector

Coming to E3, there was a short list of games I had to get my hands-on — Dark Sector was one of them. As a company, Digital Extreme hasn’t had a lot of success in the past, but that doesn’t mean they can’t deliver in the future. My time spent playing Dark Sector has cemented my opinion that this is likely to be the best 3rd person title at E3.

The playable version took place in both outdoor and indoor environments. Starting off, you’re instantly thrust into action as you’re in a courtyard-like area with enemies surrounding you. Other people have mentioned that this game plays a lot like Gears of War, and that’s very true, as the controls were almost instantly known, despite the fact the guy from D3 only got to how to change weapons before the fighting began. (Keep in mind the playable version was for the 360; obviously the PS3 one won’t control like Gears.)

In Dark Sector, you change weapons with the right bumper (it could have been left, though-it’s been a long day, but I’m pretty sure it was the right one…feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), shoot with the right trigger, melee with B, take cover or sprint with A, target with L, move with the left stick, and look around with the right. Pretty familiar, huh?

After quickly taking cover behind a fenced-in tree, I basically had bullets whizzing by on all sides. I was using the pistol initially, but that wouldn’t cut it-time to bring out the glaive!

As you likely know, the glaive is the signature weapon for Dark Sector. Using the techno-virus corrupting his body, Hayden can generate a three-bladed throwable weapon from his mutated right arm. Even though it’s basically this game’s Blades of Chaos, they made it known very clearly that they’ve put a large emphasis balancing guns and the glaive, to make sure people don’t just use it throughout the game without touching the guns.

But boy is the glaive fun. There are so many neat things you can do with it, it’s kind of hard to describe. You can use it to cut people in half in melee, target multiple enemies and send it flying out in a pre-determined arc, and even enhance it with the environment. See a flame? Throw it through the fire, and it comes back flaming, and anyone you hit will be ignited. See a light? Throw it at it, and suddenly you have electricity. There’s also an enhancement they described as a "freezing mist thing," but that wasn’t anywhere in the level.

After clearing the area (and dying once thanks to an entrenched turret man), I made my way indoors to what looked like a hotel, and tried to take the elevator up to end the level. Whoops, there’s some weird web stuff clogging the shaft. Hmm…what to do… I know! Burn it! Further ahead on the first floor of the building, there are exposed flames which you can use to burn away the webbing to eventually gain access to a working elevator. After going up and walking through a few more doors, the demo ends as you walk into a bright light.

In the building, there were also some cool things. For starters, I saw one of the game’s features in action: weaknesses. One of the enemies was weak against fire, and had unstable molecules. What this means is that the minute one is lit up, he explodes, and causes a chain reaction amongst his brethren. I asked if there were others with similar weaknesses, and was told that there are some enemies you can only kill using one of the glaive enhancements.

Like they said, though, it’s not all about the glaive. Scattered throughout the abandoned city are suitcases with money. You can collect these, and when you find an entrance to the Underground (basically the same concept as Zion, but with mutated people and monsters instead of computers). In this level all I could do there was use the money to purchase weapons (I picked the shotgun, naturally). At this point I have no idea if there’s more that can be done down there.

All in all, Dark Sector was a blast. The action was extremely fast, the enemies were brutal, and the weapons are amazing. Killing people is a bloody affair (not at the level of the chainsaw gun, but close), and it’s a nice mix of stop-n-pop gameplay and typical 3rd person action titles. The dynamic lighting in the game is also outstanding. When your glaive is electrified, the lighting around you changes; when you stand in a light source, shadows change. Basically, it’s better than most games out there past or future.

There’s no official word yet on the status of a demo, but D3 did tell me that they hope to get something to Xbox Live and PlayStation’s network by the end of this year.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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