A game dropping to around £10-£15 within weeks of release is never a good sign. As such, Dark Void is a game that, to be honest, I expected to suck royally, but I added to the bottom of my rentals list anyway. Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered that Dark Void was in fact, about average.
For some reason, Dark Void takes place in the 1930s, when mankind is on the verge of splitting the atom. It's a good thing the game tells you this at the very beginning, because otherwise I would have had no idea. Most of the time you're running around shooting robots and aliens with futuristic energy weapons - the only time the 1930s makes itself felt is right at the very beginning (even then only because the game tells you it's 1930), at the very end when your enemies reference that mankind is about to split the atom, and when you occasionally whiz past a biplane. Dark Void could have been set in 2230 and the game needn't have changed a bit. The stoytelling as a whole is quite weak - I really didn't understand why I was supposed to be destroying every robot in sight, and who the weird alien guys were who kept cropping up in cutscenes were until the penultimate level, when the game pretty much explains itself in its entirety in a 3 minute cutscene. Graphics, much like the rest of the game, are perfectly serviceable but ultimately unimpressive.
Lame story and questionable setting aside though, Dark Void isn't actually all that bad. It's by no means great, but it's certainly worth the £7.99 I saw it instore for today. In a nutshell, it's primarily a poor man's Gears of War, with some jetpack-assisted flying sections thrown in for good measure. Your weapon selection is rather limited - you get a standard machinegun, an energy pistol and a couple of low-ammo count heavy weapons when you need them. By and large though, I found the heavy weapons a bit useless, and was able to beat the game using the two most basic weapons almost exclusively. That's not any testament to my amazing ability as a gamer, but it basically boils down to two things - one, until about the final chapter of the game, punching an enemy in the face is far, far more effective than any of your guns are. As you're fighting solid metal enemies, you're required to empty pretty much an entire clip of ammo into your foes before they die. And clips in Dark Void are pretty large - around 40 shots apiece, so unloading all that ammo takes some time. Far more time than running towards an enemy and killing him with a single punch to the head. Yeah, it struck me as a bit weird too, but it works. The second reason is that you can upgrade your original weapons so that by the time the harder stages roll round and charging through relentless enemy fire armed with your bare fists becomes a bit difficult, they actually pack a solid punch, and the un-upgraded heavy weapons suddenly feel a bit feeble in comparison.
During gunfights, you can get into cover and shoot Gears of War style. You know how this works by now, but one little innovation I found quite interesting (and I can imagine being stolen in future!) is the use of vertical cover. It's a bit difficult to describe, but when you're standing at the very top of a long series of ledges, you can peer over the ledge you're on, using it as cover, and shoot the enemies below. You can then drop down to the next level in the same way you would usually jump over a crate, for example, and continue your killing.
The flying sections aren't perfect either, but they're still functional enough. You begin armed with your lowly jetpack and need to shoot enemies out of the sky with your jetpack-mounted machine guns. Sounds simple enough, but everything else is really fast, and there's no lock-on mechanic, so targetting is more than a little chaotic, and hitting what you want is a bit hit and miss. What is fun about it though, is that you can hijack enemy aircraft you come across, which will boost your firepower and give you some much-needed armour to hide behind.
Overall, Dark Void is a perfectly competent shooter, but it really doesn't bring anything new to the table. It has a few neat little mechanics, but nothing that's going to blow you away. There's certainly worse games you could spend your money on though, so if you can find it cheap enough, or can rent it, it's worth a shot.