Tech News on G4
Halloween Gaming Deathmatch
October 31, 2007
By John Powell - G4 Canada
It is that one night of the year when long-legged beasties and things that
go bump in the night are welcome sights. Don’t want to venture out of the
house to face them or all the little ghosts and goblins in your
Imagine ‘Blade’…only worse. A vampire plague has spread across the U.S. Hordes of the bloody-thirsty undead have swarmed their cities and towns. To combat the threat, the government has created an elite military strike force specially trained to hunt down and eliminate the Nightwalker menace. That means shoot them and shoot them until they are dead…again.
Sights and Sounds
You’d swear you’ve loaded up your PlayStation by mistake. The colours are
wishy-washy and the graphics are blotchy. Everything is so awfully dark
that it is hard to make out your enemies and the obstacles in your way. In
the same black spandex battle suit and combat goggles, the main character –
John Lloyd – is a blatant Sam Fisher clone. The ‘You’re Dead’ cut-scenes in
which the vampires tear you to pieces after you have botched a mission have
been unashamedly lifted right from ‘Resident Evil’. Like the sights, the
sounds are unremarkable.
Don’t even bother. Borrowing heavily from ‘Splinter Cell’, the game is
nothing but mundane scavenger hunts, sabotage objectives and
‘The Darkness’ is based on the superbly disturbing comic book series by Marc Silvestri. An ancient power - ‘The Darkness’ - is passed down from father to son and can be used in many devilish ways. You can fashion weapons out of it, use it to blind people or even summon demonic ‘Darkness’ minions to do your bidding. The only major drawback is that the power cannot be employed in lit areas so you best be shorting out the electricity or breaking a lot of light bulbs and because you are possessed by the evil force, you always have to keep ‘The Darkness’ in check.
In the game, you play as the Jackie Estacado, a hitman for the Franchetti Family mob who ends up in the middle of a bloody and heart-breaking mob war. It is a war that starts in the streets of New York and ends up in the fiery pits of Hell or the ‘Otherworld’ as they call it in the game.
Sights and Sounds
If you ignore the fact that the characters’ mouths don’t voice their words well, ‘The Darkness’ has an exceptional look since everything is so crisp and clear. The graffiti on the subway walls, the scratches in the pay phone booths, the scorched earth that is the ‘Otherworld’, everything is razor-sharp. The sound really accentuates the finely honed graphics. The gritty ‘Sopranos’ style dialogue is not for everyone’s tastes but it does give the game authenticity. The raspy, creepy demonic voice of ‘The Darkness’ is provided by singer/songwriter and former 'Faith No More' front man Mike Patton. How appropriate is that, eh?
Although all the shooting and shelling is fun, the artillery is
predictable. The real hook of ‘The Darkness’ are the powers themselves. The
Clive Barker’s Jericho
If nothing else, with ‘Books of Blood’ and ‘Hellraiser’ author/filmmaker
Clive Barker penning the storyline, you know the plot is going to be
Before there was an Adam or an Eve, God created a being in his own image and called it the Firstborn. Left unfinished, God kicks the Firstborn to the curb - or in this case the Abyss and goes on to create man and woman. Attempting to reclaim what it thinks is its birth right, the Firstborn seeks to break through into the mortal world at the cradle of civilization: the Middle Eastern city of Al-Khali. Standing in its way is 'Jericho', a unique strike force who have military training and are skilled in the arcane arts such as telekinesis, summoning and exorcism. Their job is to confront and rub out paranormal threats by any means necessary.
Sights and Sounds
Much like 'The Darkness', 'Jericho' has a really polished look with little effects here and there bringing the whole screen to life. You can see the dust motes and fog twirling and coursing through the ancient Middle Eastern ruins. You can see the actual folds in the leather battle suits worn by Jericho. All of the horrific creatures you stumble upon are really the stuff of nightmares...or worse. Even the Start screen is a patch of bloody, severed flesh. Nice. The ambient sounds are spooky and at times very unnerving.
The is where like a zombie from a George A. Romero movie, 'Jericho' stumbles. On the positive side, you can switch between your team-mates at will and combine their exceptional powers in complex attacks...and what powers they are. Delgado summons a flames spirit that barbecues enemies. Simone can slow down time itself. Abigail can fire a “ghost bullet”, a telekinetic projectile. ’Billie’ can freeze enemies and shoot flames. Father Paul and Devin can heal people. Oh, yeah. Healing. You will do a lot of that as members of your team fall like flies in combat. Half your time will be spent fighting and half wrenching people back from the brink of death.
The bulk of the battles are regrettably in closed quarters. With enemies using rapid fire weapons and there being so much smoke, dust and fire everywhere making it hard to locate them, prepare for many exasperating fights that will have you cursing like a netherworld demon. In their gear reminiscent of the Cenobites in ’Hellraiser’, the squad sure looks awesome but the AI is too darn smart for its own good. Overzealous to a fault, they will do a lot of the fighting unless you push your way through the mayhem to make your presence felt. Some of the game’s momentum is slowed though by the load times and interactive cutscenes requiring irritating timed button mashing.
Pound a stake in its heart. Vampire Rain just sucks. That leaves us with 'The Darkness' and 'Clive Barker's Jericho'. The biggest difference between the two is level design. The levels in 'Jericho' are just too identical while 'The Darkness' has more elaborate maps and locations. You will never get tired of deploying Jackie Estacado’s powers in combat while despite the assortment of arcane abilities, the showdowns in ‘Jericho’ are set up in such a way as to wreck havoc with your blood pressure...and not in a good way. ‘Jericho’ does have some great things going for it, it is just the entire package needed more refinement.
Vampire Rain: 2 / 10
Winner: The Darkness
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