Dark Void Preview

We fly into the void with an Xbox 360 build of Capcom’s jet-powered action-adventure.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, December 8, 2009

It wouldn't be a Capcom game without some kind of giant robot-animal boss.

It wouldn't be a Capcom game without some kind of giant robot-animal boss.

The addition of jetpacks leads to three kinds of experience. The first is a sort of long-overdue “fuck you” to third-person cover-shooting orthodoxy. Sure, you can still find, fix and flank shiny Watcher robots to death if it suits your stagnant tastes, but at any given moment there’s the option to double-jump into hover mode, boost five hundred feet up and hurl fusion grenades at suddenly ant-like opponents, bombing those boxy cover layouts to within an inch of their second-hand, ubiquitous lives.

Usefully, allied soldiers become far more numerous on the other side of the dimensional rift, engaging enemies deep in the earthbound nitty-gritty of Dark Void’s tactical logic, and thus granting the player leisure to circle the battlefield on high, swiping gold and red experience orbs and probing for windows of attack. The former buy you upgrades for the game’s weak-kneed arsenal, which comprises two assault rifles, a sniper rifle, bazooka-type thingy, charging omni-killer energy cannon and a half-arsed take on the Gravity Gun. Three mods are available for each, usually nothing more adventurous than added splash damage or greater clip capacity.

The Watchers in the flesh. Likeable chaps.

The Watchers in the flesh. Likeable chaps.

Of course, the Watchers wouldn’t be much shop as a super-advanced race if they didn’t have aerial units of their own. Squadrons of jet-packed snipers provide additional incentive to keep on the move, while hovering “Knight” behemoths do the opposite, pinning Will down with turret fire and missiles. By alternating between airborne and ground threats, Airtight does a reasonable job of fending off the repetition which occasionally stumbles even the most stellar of its contemporaries.

Full flight mode is less of a success, as are the missions founded on it. Tapping Y during hover mode (or twice while on foot) ignites the main thruster, drop-kicking Will into supersonic flight. Infrequent but regular jousting matches with flying saucers (hijack-able, providing you have the patience for button prompt sequences) give this functionality a chance to stretch its legs; the trick can also be pulled during basic missions, whether to make a fast exit or gain height (your altitude slowly dwindles while hovering), but at the risk of head-butting the relatively cramped scenery.

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