Product Type: D3 Publisher Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Dark Sector (Xbox 360)
Member Name: zombieflesh
Dark Sector (Xbox 360)
Advantages: cool weapon, fun gameplay and plenty of action, nice surroundings and atmosphere
Disadvantages: might seem a little dated, not quite enough story progression, sometimes a little repetitive
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.
Summary: Dark Sector
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