Dark Void‘s a new game coming your way from Airtight Games and Capcom that’s probably best described as Gears of War meets the Rocketeer. It was really Russ’ interview with the developers that put the game on the map for me with its promises of new gameplay experiences and awesome flight mechanics. It’s from the guys who made the very enjoyable Crimson Skies, and they seemed to have taken the flight portions from that and added a 3rd person shooting game to the mix… definitely an intriguing combo. But what the hell was this vertical cover, anyway? How could that work?
At E3 this week I talked with Jim Deal (president of Airtight Games) about the game. He gave me the basics on the gameplay and backstory (you’re in a parallel universe where aliens have taken over the world, and are fighting back with a jetpack) before handing me the controller to try it out myself. The first section he threw me into was an early part where you were engaging in firefights with the aliens. The game controls a lot like Gears of War. There’s a cover system, a quick kill button, and even a similar running cam. You’ll fight strange-looking aliens with big guns, but the real creatures actually sit inside the creatures and pilot them, much like the weird little guy from MIB. There will be different “models” they pilot later on in the game.
The shooting seemed a little loose, but that could have been just me being a spaz. At first I completely forgot that there was a cover system and played the game like a maniac, running up and meleeing people to death (with some fun animations), but then I realized that taking cover was far safer, of course. Although it does seem to be more fun to play this game a little unhinged.There’s a nice selection of weapons here and you can pick up any from your downed foes.
Everything seemed normal till you get to the bottom of a cliff. From there, the vertical combat begins.When you first start the game you’ll have a hoverpack that barely has any power, but will allow for some hovering and quick vertical boosts. It’s got a very nice feel to it, and you’ll have to make some big jumps across precipices fairly often. You’ll also use it to ascend during the vertical sections.
It starts like this- once in a while you’ll reach a dead end, with a place you have to go above you. You’ll jump up and cling to the bottom of a cliff, (or ledge, as shown above) and the view will switch so that you can see the levels above you. From here you’ll be able to slide left or right to other platforms (which ironically is controlled just like jumping left or right from cover to cover in Gears of War) and you can jump upwards to a further height. Enemies can be shot or pulled off the cliff if you get up close to them, and it controls pretty much the same way as the shooter it was before… just vertically.
It’s really interesting change-up for the game and makes getting to new parts of the levels very fun.
After this section, it was off to check out the flight system. Jim loaded up the level and handed it back to me. You start off here with an updated jetpack, on the edge of a cliff in front of the ocean. A quick jump and I was flying in the air, and as you’ve probably already seen, it’s quite beautiful up there. Hitting the Y button changes from hover mode to zooming straight ahead, and I shot forward to get right near a ufo-looking aircraft that was firing at me. A quick hit of the B button and your character lands on the ship and gets ready to take it for yourself. Pretending that the pilot is William Shatner, you grab a metal panel on the ship and wrench it up by holding down a button, while trying to avoid the ship’s guns. When you get that panel up the shield protecting the pilot falls away, and you mash some more buttons to kill him and take the ship for yourself.
It’s a fun little minigame, and when you finish it, the ufo is yours. Piloting it really brings back feelings of Crimson Skies… it’s so much fun to engage in dogfights with the other ships and zip around the world. Just incredibly fluid and responsive controls. After you’ve killed all the enemies and landed on a platform the demo ended as some gigantic mechanical insect-looking things crawled towards you. A boss fight!
The game’s not set for release till Fall of 09, so keep in mind that this was a very early version and a lot of things could change (like, hopefully, the title). But all in all I was pretty impressed, as it’s definitely looking like one to watch out for.