Dark Void Review (Xbox 360)

Games Reviews Xbox 360
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<em>Dark Void</em> Review (Xbox 360)

Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Capcom’s sci-fi take on The Rocketeer loses altitude fast

Dark Void has all the trappings of an absolute mega-blockbuster title. The game’s storyline piles on intrigue, following cargo pilot William Gray, whose plane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle. From there he crosses into a parallel universe called the Void, which you’d swear was the mystical Paradise Falls from Pixar’s Up, save for the malevolent robotic cult stirring up mischief. Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary wrote the game’s phenomenal score, and one of the videogame industry’s most talented voiceover actors, Nolan North (Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed), brings to life the game’s protagonist. With such a bulletproof formula, it’s utterly confounding that—with the exception of some thrilling, airborne rocket-pack freewheeling—Dark Void just isn’t particularly fun.

The game’s level design feels downright prosaic: You slog through unremarkable set pieces shooting wave after wave of robotic Watchers, all of which look basically the same except for some minor differences in coloration, behavior and arsenal. Despite wielding a presumably substantial production budget, Dark Void’s art department appears to have collectively moseyed into the office after lunch, traced a few stencils of droids from the Star Wars prequels, shaken each other’s hands and called it a day. Several hours into the game, Dark Void provides the perfect metaphor for its own failure. While liberating some trapped human survivors from the futuristic pods holding them captive, I was prompted to “press B to rewire control panel.” When I hit the B button, instead of doing any appreciable rewiring, Gray simply punches the unit and rips out the device’s innards. While this hamfisted approach may prove successful in opening futuristic prison pods, games require a bit more finesse—and a lot more inspiration.