Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy |
Sept. 29th 2005
Introduction:High Moon Studios revives Darkwatch from its original developer Sammy bringing us this high intensity gothic western shooter. The Wild West has never been this wild thanks to Darkwatch. Buckle up Silverado and read our review of Darkwatch.
The Game:Darkwatch follows the story of Jericho Cross, Cross is your normal old-west bandit who gets mixed up with some vampire folk when he is tiring to rob train. Of course Jericho being in the wrong place at the wrong time gets turned into a vampire and that's where the real fun begins. As the obligatory confused vampire Jericho searches for rhyme and reason oh his twisted existance while hunting the undead with a group called The Darkwatch. You'll have to stick it out for half the game before it really gets cooking into the whole Darkwatch deal, but the plot is fairly good considering it's only a shooter.
The gameplay in Darkwatch will be familiar to any gamer who has played a FPS. The controls are easy to master and you will have lots of practice considering they just throw waves of enemies at you relentlessly. I would compare the gameplay of Darkwatch to Serious Sam. Darkwatch plays like a classic shooter which keeps your chamber reloading until your finger falls off! In the vain of Sam, Doom and any old classic shooter from the 90s, Darkwatch will keep your anxiety up with your eyes glued to the screen. If you're playing on Cowboy level or lower it might be a little easy, so bump it up and get ready. It's not a game until you're out of ammo running around beating the Skeleton legions with the butt of your gun.
Speaking of weapons Darkwatch is pretty inventive and everything has a tinge of the Western gothic horror feeling. The design of the game is done well and it's fresh to see a game that combines these two elements. The weapons although standard in nature look cool with huge blades and spikes. They have a dual purpose because you can use them for melee or ranged attacks. Each weapon will deliver a strong or weak melee attack which is a cool concept in a shooter. I found myself shooting a lot and then finishing the bad guys off with the blade of weapon. Everything is slightly grounded in realism so you wont have any BFG's, it's just pistols, shotguns and crossbows for the most part. Although they did manage to thow in a rocket launcher and dynamite for gamers who love the big bang.
Every game needs a gimmick and Darkwatch has one two. The interesting idea that Darkwatch brings to the table is a morality check where you can choose good or evil branches in the storyline. The effects of being either good or evil are slight so in the end it really doesn't matter. For each side there is a bunch of powers you can get which are labeled good or evil, but you can get both by playing the middle of the fence. You will have to have a sway to one way which affects the final boss of the game. I guess it's enough reason to play the game again which is good because shooters are rarely revisited once completed unless you're going online.
Darkwatch is fast and fun, you've played this type of game before, just never this way. They nailed the gameplay and it manages to entertain with a good enough story and easy to learn mechanics. Darkwatch will not disappoint those looking for a fast paced FPS.
Graphics & Sound: Graphically Darkwatch impressed me more with its art direction and astonishing attention to detail. At times it's even hard to see the level of detail because the game rushes by you so fast, but if you take the time an examine the creatures, characters, enviorments and weapons you'll find some nice nuonces (example the star badge logo). The art direction also plays a big role in Darkwatch and its success. This game is very dark and moody with a presence all of its own. They put together a nice package that works in every instance and believe it or not the "Western Vampire" deal works. Shooters normally don't have this outstanding attention to detail which makes Darkwatch stand out. Kudos to High Moon for the outstanding quality of characters and weapon design. Darkwatch gets a win in the books.
Like the graphics the sound is excellent in Darkwatch and it must be played loud! This game sounds wicked pumped up with the Dolby on. High Moon did a great job nailing the sound effects. On the other side the ambience is well dealt with using the standard old school "western" vibe. The characters are also acted good enough to be believable although the voice over work would have to be the weakest area of Darkwatch, or wait is that the script? Overall Darkwatch has a full enough package to make it stand out.
Innovation:Innovating a shooter is a tough job considering the staggering amount of FPS that is being released. Darkwatch pulls away from this and gives us more of a straight forward experience. They do mix it up with the good-bad story line and powers, but it's really not enough to make it innovative. Your powers as a half-vampire are a little weak and it would have been nice if they explored that area more. Jericho can hold his wait without the powers, but a little spice in that area would have been nice.
Mojo:The mojo creeps out from the floorboards when Cross glides his vampiric body across the floor. This game is pretty cool and the subject matter has been vacant for a while. We have seen some Western styled shooter comes out; Red Dead Revolver comes to mind, but nothing as fierce and strange as Darkwatch. If you didn't know even the red hot vampire vixen Tala has been in the pages of Playboy magazine. That's some pussycat appeal along tagged with some undead violence and we have some fine mojo moonshine.
Lowdown:Want to run around the old West as a vampire with a loaded gun and a bad attitude? Then Darkwatch is your game. Every classic shooter fan will dig the unique Gothic Western theme Darkwatch provides. Darkwatch is cool fresh idea that has the goods to deliverer. Pick this vaquero up!
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8. Final: 8/10