I've come across Dark Sector rather a long time after its release back in 2008, and didn't really know anything about the game other than being impressed by the super cool looking blade weapon held by the character on the front cover. Available for only a few pounds on Amazon marketplace, I figured I wouldn't have lost much if it turned out to be a bad game, but instead I was incredibly lucky to discover that this is an great game well suited to all of my likes.
Set in a dystopian future version of Russia, the first chapter begins with a sense of foreboding brought about by bleak, dishevelled surroundings and a clever choice to depict the entire level in a simplistic greyscale colourway. This really made an impact on the atmosphere of the scene and I thought it was a brave move that really paid off. It made the whole thing feel oppressive as I made my way through tired crumbling buildings and had to hunt cautiously for items which blended in with the background, as well as locating stealthily concealed enemies that were not immediately visible from their hiding places. An event that occurs at the end of the first level then catapults you into a full colour world for the remainder of the game, and although I can see why this distinction before and after level one is important to the characterisation and plot development, I thought it was a shame that they had not continued the bold black and white aesthetic throughout as it was a unique feature that I very much enjoyed.
I had a lot of fun with the style of gameplay as it reminded me of several of my other favourite video games. It also draws a few parallels with the movie District 9, which I think is an outstanding piece of film. You have a third person viewpoint which allows you to watch from behind your character, which I very much prefer to first person as I find this wider angle view is easier to control and provides greater agility when moving as you can clearly see how your character is aligned and reposition accurately. The fight scenes take on a similar approach as in Gears of War, with lots of bad guys for you to pick off behind strategically placed defences, and it also shares the same control features for running and ducking etc. I thought that the programming used in the enemy characters was pretty neat, as they do not just stay in the same position and shoot at you, instead they seem to work effectively as a team with waves of back up coming in when you think you've finished clearing an area, and they will change positions and move forward toward you if you haven't taken them out quickly enough, which adds to the pressure and makes the fights feel more intense and exciting. There are several different types of enemy to fight, with some being pretty standard and others being more creepy and actually quite scary, especially when they rush at you out of the dark corners inside buildings. The way that different enemies approach to attack adds some variety and keeps things interesting so it doesn't feel repetitive at all. Killing an enemy with your blade elicits a spectacularly gruesome sounding death noise, and although hand to hand combat is rather plain, you can dish out some gory finisher moves that are not for the squeamish!
One of the most exciting elements of the game is the unusual weapon that you are given, known as a glaive, it has three curved blades in a sort of spiral shape and is thrown like a Frisbee! It is totally different to other weapons that you'll typically get in most games, and although you can still use a variety of guns I was really fond of the glaive and preferred to use this throughout as it is such an original idea. The glaive can be powered up in several different ways so it doesn't get boring to use and I was constantly trying to hone my skills and improve accuracy when using it. It is also integral to other parts of the game outside of just killing enemies. There are plenty of little puzzles scattered throughout the levels, and the glaive is required to help you progress throughout the storyline and move into new areas. I loved the simplistic feel of the puzzles, and although I'm sure most people would find it outdated or too basic, I really appreciated the fact that the puzzles were obvious to anyone who's played a few games before, and I felt like I achieved a lot through my knowledge of previous gameplay theory. There are also items and add-ons to search for which will enhance your gameplay, so it's worth taking some time to look around before just running through an area onto the next action scene. It's a good idea to pick up money wherever you see it, as there is an underground black market area where you can purchase and upgrade your weapons. This is run by a hilarious Russian guy who seems to do nothing other than insult your character even though you're giving him plenty of money, and is a nice light touch which comes at a time when the game is pretty much giving you a break between the climactic sections of the level before moving on to build up to the next big sequence.
The levels do seem to be somewhat variable in terms of content. Some I was able to complete easily within 30 minutes and there was little storyline development involved. Others, particularly those with staggered waves of enemy fight scenes and big boss battles were more gruelling, with up to two hours of full-on action to test your endurance before being rewarded with that little 10g notification for completing the level. I suppose in some ways it was nice as there were breaks in the pacing so it didn't feel like I was just doing the same thing repeatedly for the whole time, but in other ways it was dissatisfying as the story did not progress as I was making my way through new areas and the feelings of tension and adrenaline that had previously been building up would just drop away to nothing. The majority of the storytelling also comes at the end, with several cut scenes giving up the big reveal and neatly finishing off any loose ends for the minimal amount of characters that are involved with the whole scenario. To be honest, I couldn't really warm to any of the characters and didn't find the storyline gripping enough to make me feel any sort of involvement or emotion, it was really just all about the gameplay. Also, I'm ashamed to admit that it took me a full hour of frustrating replays to finally defeat the end boss. This is not because the tactics were difficult to master, or because it required a massive amount of skill above and beyond what I possess, but rather that you need to have selected your weapons carefully before entering the battle, and you need to get your timing just right or else you'll end up dying for what seems like no apparent reason. This was a really annoying way to end the game and did spoil it for me somewhat.
As well as the regular story mode there are also two online multiplayer games to choose from. I like that they have used the idea of VS match-ups rather than co-op, which I don't feel would fit well with the plot and intention of the game, and it allows me to test my skills against other people. Amazingly, there are still some people that seem to be playing this on Xbox Live and I was able to enter into a few late night match-ups where I promptly got myself killed in a number of different ways. But despite my failings and repeated deaths, it was fun to challenge myself to the team matches and it adds a bit more replay value which I think is necessary to get further enjoyment out of playing after completing the main story.
I am really glad that I came across this game, and would say it's nearly up there with my other favourites based on the concept and gameplay. It started off really promisingly and I got heavily drawn into it, but I was disappointed that the momentum of the plot stalled and I lost interest in the characters. Overall I have to give Dark Sector a good recommendation as it was entertaining and fun to play. The storyline was dark and the settings atmospheric. The glaive is the perfect weapon for functionality and cool factor. Although it's not particularly challenging it tries to get the balance of taking established gameplay models and mixing it up with new features. I particularly enjoyed the little puzzle sections and classic boss battles. Definitely worth looking it up if you like games such as Gears of War, Resident Evil etc.
Dark sector on first instance looks like its going to be a scary horror game and surprisingly is more of an action horror. You start of as Hayden Tenno vice my Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum. As a CIA agent your armed with a gun and investigate a possible infection. However in the process you get infected and in the process turn your arm into that of a different creature. Probably the main focus is the ability to grow and throw a bladed weapon called a glaive
The glaive works as a boomerang and is used to dice an enemy at range or close combat. Later it can be upgraded to work with fire, electricity and you can even manually control it using the controller stick. The satisfaction of directing it to cut of an enemy head is truly wonderful. You also have possession of guns that can be upgraded and grenades as well as a 3rd person taking cover element but its not very polished.
You would face enemies from soldiers to infected zombies and creatures. The level design lacks innovation and the graphics and lighting is very boring. The story is itself confusing and I didn't know what was going on. The music is good in some places but again nothing spectacular.
The character models are quite bad and repetitive for both soldiers and zombie creatures. Some of the boss fights are fun but until you know what you are doing its a waste of time
Overall this game could be fun with the use of the glaive but lacks in other department
What can I say about dark sector. Well, it is one of the best games I own. Its wicked, the game itself is set in a world where everyone is infected with a virus including the main character who is also infected but fighting against it and trying to stop the virus altogether.
The game has brilliant graphics which makes the all the action look real. Unlike other games like this where by you only have an array of different guns this time you also have a weapon called a glaive. This weapon is like a massive throwing star which literally decapitates enemies in half and if you ain well can literally cut an enemies head off.
The game is not for a person which doesn't like gore and blood as there is alot in the game. Online is just as good as offline, online you are put on teams and you have to try to kill each other which is both hard exciting. Offline the story is intriguing and you get sucked into the story of the characters.
Overall this is an excellent game, with an excellent story and graphics. The price of the game is a plus as well.
Dark Sector doesn't at first appear to be much good - cheesy title, cheesy intro, cheesy menu... you may suspect that the cheese factory has been running overtime.
However, a bit of gameplay and you may notice that the cheesy odour surrounding this game abates a little bit, possibly because you're actually quite immersed and having lots of fun!
At it's heart, Dark Sector is a Gears of War style 'Duck and Cover' third person shooter. The rhythm of gameplay is by now formulaic but still very appealing - enter new area, wave of enemies comes in, gun them all down whilst hiding behind various bits of scenery, pick things up, move on to the next area.
I found Dark Sector to be rather well executed - especially due to your main character's unique weapon, 'the Glaive'. The glaive is a sort of spikey disc that you throw at enemies. It can be 'charged' with various elements for different effects (and to solve certain puzzles), for example fire, ice, lightning... you get the idea. But best of all is the ability to throw the glaive and guide it towards your enemies in slow motion, slicing them up in style.
Although maybe a bit gimmicky, the glaive is a fun element to the game that makes a change from the usual guns, guns and more guns.
The other lovely part of Dark Sector is the graphics. The dark and gothic environments that you venture through and brilliantly designed, look spectacular and feel atmospheric. My one niggle is that the game is very uneven in terms of physics and interaction with the environment - it really breaks the immersion when certain objects appear glued to the floor whilst others can be fully interacted with.
The boss fights are a mixed bag. They appeal to me because they're 'old school' - which is how boss fights should be in my opinion, i.e. you can't just brute force you way through them, you have to work out the tactics first. The problem is that once you know the tactics, the fights are far too quick and easy, which really harms the replay value and makes them feel much less epic. A bit more difficulty there would have been a bonus.
I've not tried multiplayer yet but it looks good - as far as I can tell, one player is the main character, armed with glaive, and everyone else has to hunt them down as a henchman. I like the sound of that!
Overall though, I had loads of fun playing Dark Sector which I found to be a well designed beautiful looking game, despite its flaws.
Dark Sector did originally come with a comic, it also begins with a great opening cinematic which really intrigues you about the storyline however the storyline doesnt really move from the beginig until you reach the end of the game.
Also there isnt much you do but kill enemies, kill boss game over.
So why wouldnt i say the game is bad....
Thats because the Glaive is fantastic, for those who dont know the Glaive is the weopon in the picture and it is such a fun weopon which you do not get bored of. The enemies get tougher and the powers you get with the Glaive get better. The game is extremly fun and because it isnt too long you dont get bored of it.
The boss battles are fun and they are exciting and different and require different ways to kill them and not just shoot it as hard as you can for as long as you can.
Overall the game is not special but it is dam good.
It's hard not to notice that Digital Extremes, the developer of Dark Sector, is a co-developer of the Unreal franchise, helping Epic games with a lot of their Unreal work, though with their refusal of using the Unreal engine on this, that might change. It's also hard not to notice that most of the stuff they developed that isn't to do with the Unreal franchise has been a load of rubbish. Whether it's Pariah or Warpath, neither of them are particularly good. At least I didn't think they were. Now the year is 2008. With next-gen titles like GTA IV and Army of Two coming in, Dark Sector joins the pack after being announced as the first next-generation game ever. It's clear it's borrowed some things, whether it's the similar cover system from Gears of War, the Black Market shop from Resident Evil 4 or the slow-mo weapon throwing like Heavenly Sword. Does it stand out on its own, or does it feel derivative?
This is probably the game's weakest point. Hayden Tenno is a CIA agent sent to the centre of hell whole Lasria, where a disease is turning people into mutants. He must find a rouge agent and kill him. After putting a bullet into the head of a guy tied to a chair, he is then infected with the disease which completely changes his arm and gives him powers. Will he be able to find the agent and stop him? The story starts off with quite a bang in the first level, and some twists will pop-up in the game, but the story just seems to get thinner and thinner as the game progresses, only becoming interesting in the final level. Characters come and go, with little time to grow attached to them thanks to the lack of cutscenes in the game. It's better than TimeShift's thin narrative, but not by much.
The controls can take some getting use to, thanks to Hayden's weird movement, but after a while it's easy to get use to. A particular struggle was mastering the Glaive's aftertouch move, where you must press the right bumper immediately after throwing it. Getting the timing right was tough, meaning there were some frustrating moments. Another issue was getting the timing right for the powerful throw move, in which you must let go of the right bumper as soon as the reticule goes yellow. A way to get past that was to count from one to three in your head, or out loud, and then let go. I found it to work like a charm. The rest of the controls are solid, as they feel like Gears of War where you hold the left trigger to aim and press the right trigger to shoot. You can throw a grenade with the left bumper and throw your Glaive with the right bumper. You can select your weapons, as well as your mini-inventory or flashlight with the directions on the D-pad. The face buttons are used to dodge, take cover, do a melee attack or finisher, reload a weapon, pick up weapons and use your powers.
Dark Sector is a gauntlet of fire fights through ten chapters broken up by the occasional puzzle and cutscene to move along the paper-thin plot. The first level plays quite differently to the rest of the game. Because Hayden hasn't been infected in chapter 1, you must use the guns available in the game to kill. In fact, this level is probably most useful for getting use to the gun combat, which teaches you how to use the cover system, how to find ammo and what weapons are best. It felt like a shooter through and through, and was the level most similar to Gears of War.
The cover system is similar to Gears, in which you press a button to get to cover, and if at a distance Hayden will slide to cover. Unfortunately, the button used for cover also functions as the roll button which means you may sometimes roll when you want to take cover or take cover when you want to roll. When in cover, you can pop out and shoot at people, then go back behind the cover if you're taking damage or need to reload. The health system is also similar to Gears in which the screen will go red if you are hurt, and if you stay in cover without taking damage you'll recover. The similarities between Gears of War remain throughout the game, though after the first level the similarities become less and less apparent.
As soon as you complete the first level, Hayden is infected with the disease damaging the population of Lasria. Not only does this completely change his arm, it also gives him a new weapon-the Glaive. This boomerang of a weapon is one of the coolest melee weapons in gaming, simply because it's satisfying to use. At first, it might seem limited as all you can do is throw it, but as you play through options open up. You unlock the ability to zoom in on the Glaive and direct it mid-flight, which means you can target specific body parts of the opponents and see the kills the closest you can-from the perspective of the Glaive itself!
You can also throw the Glaive into fire, ice and electricity and use it to shock, freeze or burn your foes alive, which is fun too. You can also use the Glaive as a melee weapon, though getting up close is only useful for when you can perform finishing moves on opponents. Running up to an enemy and mashing on the B button is pretty weak, as melee attacks are quite useless. It's generally advisable to use the Glaive in conjunction with the elements like Fire, or using Aftertouch to slice off the limbs. A great weapon, but firearms are surely better, right? Well actually after the first level firearms can feel almost useless for reasons I'll explain in a moment. But the Glaive is a great, satisfying weapon and makes combat incredibly fun.
Once you become half-man, half-mutant your list of firearms is limited. While in the first level you could use guns that opponents dropped, when you become infected sensors on the gun stop you from using guns for a long time. When you grab a gun and use it, you will hear a beeping which means you have an amount of time before the gun becomes useless. At first the only weapon you can use is the pistol which you own, but after a while you'll find a Black Market Merchant who will give you weapons for the game's currency Rubles. You can find Rubles in the game by searching, and you'll need to do that to find ammo too. The Black Market Merchant, crate smashing to find ammo and core gunplay stink of Resident Evil 4.
While combat is great fun, the game attempts to add variety, and these don't turn out too well. These usually revolve around annoying puzzles which require you to go back and forth through a level, which is boring. For example, in a Church courtyard you must use your Glaive to transport fire from Candle to Candle until you reach the mutant blockage that needs burning to let you through into the next area. It's annoying, especially when there is no clue as to where you're supposed to take the flame to next. Other puzzles include directing your Glaive over a gate to hit a switch, finding an element to put out the fire and more. They're quite dull and annoying distractions from the combat, which actually didn't need variety in the first place. Also annoying is the presence of random quick-time events, where suddenly you need to hit a button before the mutant takes a swipe at you. If you're on deaths door, these events can open it for you and shove you through it.
One thing that is welcome is the excellent Boss fights in Dark Sector. These boss fights are wildly different from each other, from a giant colossus to a big robot to a small yet agile mutant with a giant blade. They also differ in how you must defeat them, and that's where most of the challenge of these bosses comes from-figuring out how to defeat them. Their weaknesses are quite well hidden, meaning you'll struggle to figure out what to do. This means you may die a few times simply trying to discover the weakness. Once you do though, you'll probably be able to take care of the boss easily, though it's quite enjoyable still. The only real exception is the 'Jacking the Jackal' boss fight, which isn't really a boss fight but still is lame. Basically, you must throw some electricity at the Jackal, run up to where the human is controlling it, throw him out and that's it. It's easy to figure out and probably takes less than a minute.
After you're done with the single player, there is a multiplayer component to delve into as well. Sadly, the focus was obviously on the single player, not because it feels tacked on or anything, but simply because of how little there is to it. There are only two modes of play, the first of which is infection. One player is Hayden with all the powers from the single player mode, while the other players are people who want to kill Hayden. The person to kill Hayden becomes Hayden the next round. This is good when you have a small group of players, but if lots of people are playing the Hayden player won't stand a chance. The other mode is fairer, which is called Epidemic. Two teams will each have a mutant on their side and you must defend multiple objectives. This gets chaotic, as having to defend both the objectives and Hayden while killing the opposing team's mutant and take their objectives is crazy. It's just a shame there is so little of it to go around, with few maps and only two modes.
The game is rated 18+ for 'strong bloody violence' which is absolutely spot on. This game is incredibly violent, with limbs being chopped off everywhere. Blood constantly splatters on the floor, and the screams of people dying can be disturbing. It can be a little scary at times, with mutants jumping out on you. The finishers, in particular are very violent and easy to pull off once you gain the ability to go invisible. There is some strong language too, though the violence is really centre stage. It's so bad it got banned in Australia, along with Soldier of Fortune: Payback, Blitz: The League and Reservoir Dogs. I don't recommend this to anyone under the age of 16+, as it's incredibly violent and disturbing.
The graphical presentation of Dark Sector is top notch. Despite being the first game announced for the next-generation, where the technology wasn't really taken advantage of yet, Dark Sector looks gorgeous. The environments and character models have a high level of detail. From Hayden's mutated arm to the mutants themselves, characters look great, even if the models repeat a bit. The environments are run-down cityscapes that make the place look like it's been taken over by something evil. As you travel through sewers or open air, you'll notice the environments have a similar feel to Gears of War, with run-down places and duller colours to make the place look destroyed. There's a nice black-and-white effect on the first level of the game, though sadly it disappears after the first level. Some other issues crop up, like some muddy textures, but the game never slows down, no matter what is going on. And that's quite a feat, considering how hot the action can get. Some ugly things aside, Dark Sector is a very impressive looking game.
The sound is great, though not due to the acting. The acting is decent, though nothing special, and the dialogue is a bit cliché, which hurts the story even more. That said, there are some quality lines of dialogue in the game, particularly at the end of the game. The rest of the sound is of high quality though, which makes up for the acting/dialogue. The music is atmospheric, coming in at perfect moments to add intensity, and when there is no enemies the subtle music could make you jump. The effects are even better, with powerful guns to add satisfaction to combat. But what makes it great is how satisfying the game makes killing people. When you get a headshot, the crunch of the bullet in their skull is crisp and a bit disturbing. When you chop off someone's leg or arm you'll hear them scream in pain. The game is just too satisfying, which means combat is fun.
-(The Replay Value)-
There's a good amount of content in Dark Sector. The main campaign will take you a good 10-12 hours to complete, depending on your skill level, and it is pretty much always fun. You may try to complete the game on Brutal difficulty, which you unlock after completing the game once. Or you may not, depending on your opinion of the game. After that, you can head to the multiplayer options, though they probably won't keep you busy for long. They're nice diversions, but not a scratch on online shooters like CoD4 or Gears of War. The achievements add some value though. Surprisingly most of them come from the single player. With a total of 38, about 6 of them come from the multiplayer. These are mostly from earning a number of points in ranked matches. The single player achievements include killing a number of enemies using the Glaive's abilities, killing them by using the elements e.g. freezing them and smashing their corpse and more. Shame you could earn a lot of them on your first play through.
Controls=9-Mastering Glaive abilities takes some time.
Gameplay=8-Fantastic combat, weak puzzles.
Graphics=9-Beautiful in every respect.
Sound=8-Headshots sound too satisfying.
Replay Value=8-Plenty of meat on the bones.
-(The Ending Comments)-
Dark Sector is a surprise in 2008. With their mediocre games aside from co-developing the Unreal franchise, I expected this to be another disappointing game from Digital Extremes. I was far from that, in fact, I highly enjoyed Dark Sector. I won't deny that is was quite derivative with gameplay cues from games like Resident Evil and Gears of War, but is it such a crime to use gameplay from such excellent games? Not really. Dark Sector takes these elements and adds a fantastic melee weapon, satisfying combat, stunning visuals and other elements to make it stand out. The story is a bit stale, the controls take a bit of getting use to and the multiplayer lacks enough maps or modes to satisfy but this shouldn't stop any action fan who can handle gore from buying this quality shooter.
-(The Extra Info)-
This was published by D3 and developed by Digital Extremes.
This was released on April 4th and is also on PS3.
This is available from Amazon for £32.48, though it's currently out-of-stock but the PS3 version is available for £34.98.