Capcom has made millions with its Resident Evil, Street Fighter and Mega Man franchises, but that doesn't mean it won't take risks. Its new third person shooter, Dark Void (developed by the team behind the Xbox favorite Crimson Skies), has the makings of a hit, with guys using jetpacks, hijacking UFOs and decapitating aliens in some whacky dimension. It's just like the Rocketeer, but much cooler.
You play as Will, a pilot and cocky son of a gun that somehow flies through the Bermuda Triangle and winds up in another dimension, or as the game's title suggests, a dark void. A mysterious race of aliens known as The Watchers seek to make his life unpleasant, and he finds himself pursued by UFOs and evil robots both big and small. Luckily for him, he meets up with The Survivors, a group of people that were also stupid enough to fly into the Bermuda Triangle, and together they battle The Watchers on their own turf.
Because they had no weapons, The Survivors fought for and eventually scavenge The Watchers' technology, granting them flight via jet packs and a bunch of high-powered rifles. For reasons Capcom hasn't explained, they anoint Will their leader and plunges them into battle in what appears to be an intense and addictive shooter where you'll use a combination of jet pack flying and good old fashioned blasting to destroy your enemies, but with one notable exception. Dark Void features what Capcom calls gravity-defying vertical-combat, where you'll not only shoot enemies in front and in back, but also up and down. Throughout the game, you'll use the Grip System, which is PR speak for being able to grab onto things, to ascend and descend cliffs and other structures, adjusting the camera and shooting enemies above and below you. In addition, you can grab onto an alien and yank it off its perch, watching its body plummet into oblivion.
Dark Void's jet pack enables you to hover (the better to reach high places) and zip through the air at high speeds. Doing this looks exhilarating for two reasons, the first being the animations. Instead of watching a stiff looking Will, the guy's arms and legs flail around depending on the jet pack's propulsion, which is a neat feature. Secondly, you have the ability to hijack UFOs by getting close to them and pressing a button. Doing this commands Will to land on the sucker, where he avoids the spaceship's laser beam and looks to rip off one of its panels. Once you do that, achieved by frantic button mashing, the alien exits the vehicle and a tug of war ensues, with both characters fighting over a rifle. Quickly tilting the left analog stick is the surefire way to victory, and the game rewards you with an animation of Will knocking his adversary to the ground and blowing off its head.
Once inside the UFO, you'll dog fight a series of enemies, and although we didn't get a chance to play, the controls look solid. Turning these suckers seems like a chore, but not a surprise, given their immense size and shape. If you tire of flying, or want to avoid blowing up, you can exit the UFO at any time and continue onward via jetpack.
As for the rest of the combat, Dark Void works similar to other third person games, with Will taking cover behind objects and peeking out to shoot his enemies. He will also acquire different weapons, most notably the disintegrator gun, which does exactly what its name implies.
On the downside, the game won't feature a multiplayer component, which is a shame, given the possibilities of intense UFO deathmatches. As a single player adventure, however, Dark Void looks sweet, and we'll hopefully kill a few Watchers at next month's Electronics Entertainment Expo. Check back with us for our skies on report.