While Capcom had plenty of 2D fighters and zombie games on display at their Captivate 09 press event in Monte Carlo event last week, one of the more interesting games on display was their anticipated sci-fi shooter Dark Void.
Being developed by Airtight Games (Crimson Skies), this game is, at its core, a third-person shooter; it’s just when and where you do said shooting that sets it apart. While you get into shootouts on the ground, and can use cover like in Gears Of War, you also get into them in mid-air, both while using your jetpack and while piloting single-person flying saucers. But there are also times when the fight goes vertical, say while you’re going up or down the side of a cliff, with the cover mechanic intact. You can even lean out of your vertical cover to grab someone and pull them over the side of the cliff they were stupidly leaning over to see where you’d gone.
All of this is driven by a story that casts you as a cargo pilot named Will who mistakenly flies into the Bermuda triangle and ends up…somewhere. Except he’s not alone, since his new home not only has some hostile enemies but some other people who’ve crossed over as well, not the least of which is Nikola Tesla, the Austrian inventor and electrical engineer. (One of the developers also let it slip that you might also run into famed missing aviator Amelia Ehrheart in the game, though he was very clear that such similarly “are they or they not dead?” people such as Elvis and Tupac wouldn’t be in the game.)
Tesla actually helps you out in the game, in fact, since he invents some of the cooler weapons you’ll use, such as the Lightning Gun, though you’ll also get other interesting ones, including some pulse weapons, from your enemy’s cold, dead hands. But while the game has a sci-fi bent, it’s somewhat more of a steampunk one, hence your main mode of transportation: your jetpack. In fact, one of the developers joked that this was the Boba Fett game LucasArts never made (other pop culture references that came up in the demo included the pulp movie serials The Rocketeer and Doc Savage).
The thing about the jetpack, though, is while there are times when it is rather handy — and can be used to fly or hover like Iron Man’s jet boots — they can also be rather dangerous. Especially, as we learned during out hands-on time with the game, since the flight controls can take some getting used to. Turning the jetpack on, for example, can very quickly send you slamming into a wall (it’s not for nothing that the animation that kicks in when you turn on your jetpack has Will flailing his legs rather wildly).
Otherwise, the game seems to be shaping up rather nicely. The cover system works well, and the vertical fights don’t seem to be any more vertigo inducing than Mirror’s Edge, though we do kind of wish they were including some competitive multiplayer modes. Plus it seems like the developer liked our idea to put in an Achievement/Trophy for dying a bunch of times called “He’s No Good To Me Dead.” We’ll find out whether it makes the grade, and how well the game stacks up, when it’s released on the 360, PS3, and PC later this year.