Coming straight out of Santa Monica from D3Publisher's pre-E3 event, PSU had the pleasurable chance to sit down and get hands on time with one of the best looking 3rd person shooters of this generation, Dark Sector.
Perhaps to start, a little background information can be given about the title. Dark Sector was one of the first next gen titles announced for PlayStation 3 way back in E3 2004. Then in 2006, the game was shown having a completely revamped graphical style going from spaceship sci-fi to a gritty post Chernobyl Eastern USSR .
Gamers will play as the CIA Agent named Hayden Tenno who is sent to an Eastern Europe city named Lasria to extract information. While there, Hayden is attacked by an unknown enemy and awakens to find part of his body altered by an infection, granting him inhuman abilities.
The hands on demo that Digital Extremes and D3Publisher had set up was playing on a Vizio 1080p HDTV and running on a debug Xbox 360 unit (apparently it is hard to come by PS3 test units despite PS3 being the game's lead platform).
The demo begins with Hayden in an war-torn alley where the environment is dark and debris and dust float free in the wind. Once you make your way down the alley you come to a graffiti logo above a sewer locating the spot to purchase weapons and ammo for your arsenal. Most likely this represents some kind of underground resistance that Hayden can buy goods from. The weapons available to purchase included a pistol, Colt 45, Sniper Rifle, and a couple of sub-machine guns, but once you start killing, forget guns...you have a freaking glaive!
The glaive is one of the coolest, most original and most entertaining weapons since Gears of War's chainsaw bayonet. The glaive is used for everything including:
- Shattering lights, lamps, light posts, and so on to create shadow coverage
- Glaive can be thrown into circuit boxes and fires to give it a new touch (electricity, fire)
- Stealth kills - Can be thrown at enemies to dismember legs, arms, heads, and torsos
From talking to one of the developers, Digital Extremes has had a blast coming up with ways that players could dismember and kill enemies. A few examples of some of the stealth kills included: throat cutting, gut spilling, and neck breaking.
Also mentioned was the fact that they are looking at supporting PlayStation Home with some cool items or possibly even having Hayden's metal arm as an unlockable for your Home character.
The demo was fairly easy and could be played through in about 20 minutes. During the course of the demo Hayden encounters gas mask wearing soldiers, virus infected humans and a metallic monster about the size of a small building.
The graphics and audio blew past games out of the water, as they were absolutely fantastic. The only issues that Dark Sector currently has is the AI and camera.
It seemed as though there were parts in the demo where the AI of the soldiers was impressive. They would take cover, flank, and use vantage points. However, in other parts of the demo they would take cover or see Hayden and shout to their squad units, yet allow the player to walk untouched around them making for easy, yet still enjoyable kills. It seemed as though the AI was a little inconsistent.
The other critique that could be made is one aspect of the control, although it's nothing major. When you jump down from high areas, Hayden uses his glaive to scrape down the side of the wall. However when executed, the camera angle would move to an angle where you couldn't properly see the nifty animation. This should be a simple fix, but it was a mentionable flaw.
In the end Dark Sector takes everything great about past shooters (Gears of War cover/sprint/climb controls, Resident Evil 4 shoulder camera and gore) and mixes it with its own creative style and storyline. Dark Sector is definitely a title worth keeping an eye on and probably a title that all shooter fans should buy.
Look for Dark Sector on store shelves sometime in early 2008, and be sure to check back in with PSU as we'll keep you updated on the future of this promising title.