'Dark Void' dumb but fun


Funny dialogue awaits you in "Dark Void." But I think it's accidentally funny, instead of funny on purpose, like in a B-movie. Then again, this is a humans vs. aliens shooting game, set in the Bermuda Triangle, so that's kind of accidentally funny in itself.

Anyway, you play a character named ... wow, I don't know what my character's name is! That's a testament to some unmemorable character-building.

Anyway, you portray this guy who flies around with a jet pack on his back in the Bermuda Triangle, shooting at alien creatures who once enslaved humans in the 1930s, but now it's war!

And at one point, you (jet pack-flying guy) are traveling alongside a woman, and she sees a campfire-type blaze burning in the distance, and she says:

"Look, there are fires burning."

And you say, "Yeah. Somebody lit 'em."

Ha-ha. Well, I imagine somebody did set those fires, since they were quite obviously sparked by someone.

A few minutes later, you and this same woman walk up to a bunch of grumpy humans wearing headdresses, and you say:

"Must be the welcoming party."

She says, "Not very welcoming."

Then the chief headdress-wearer tells the both of you, "Your presence is unwelcome."

Can you say "welcome" one more time? ("You're welcome.")

I'm making fun of "Dark Void," but it's a pretty good game. Not great. But good enough. The coolest thing about this third-person shooting adventure:

There are moments when you climb cliffs, and the camera angle looks dead-center, straight up. You must jet pack-jump up to these cliffs above you, and hold onto edges by your fingertips, while you shoot at aliens shooting down at you from higher-up cliffs.

You also can merely grab these cliff aliens and toss them over the edge to their gravitational demise into a canyon.

I can't remember any other video game ever using this cliffhanging/jet pack-hopping technique, which "Dark Void" designers call "vertical cover." It's fun. It should be copied in more games in the future.

For most of the game, you simply run through jungles, hiding behind cover (wall corners, etc.) and shooting aliens.

I think the guns stink. It can take 12 bullets to kill one alien. So I choose instead to run up to aliens and punch them once, and they die. Such is the math: One punch equals death.

That's fairly satisfying. Less satisfying is when you fly with your jet pack, or when you highjack an alien's little one-man flying saucer then shoot at other flying saucers.

The problem all the way around: The controls aren't tightly responsive, whether you're jumping during "vertical cover," or trying to punch an alien, or flying a UFO.

And there are flaws, such as the time I re-spawned off the map of the world, or the handful of times I re-spawned midair and fell to my dumb death.

All in all, though, "Dark Void" is a fair distraction with an original feel. A sequel, with the bugs worked out, could actually be superior -- as long as everyone stops saying "welcome" and "fires."

("Dark Void" by Capcom retails for $60 for PS 3 and Xbox 360 -- Plays just fun enough. Looks pretty good. Moderately challenging. Rated "T" for animated blood, mild language, violence. Three stars out of four.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

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