Hands-on with Dark Void

One of the in-development video games that we're more intrigued by every time we see it is Dark Void, Capcom's upcoming sci-fi action title. The basic hook is simple -- while strapped into a Rocketeer-style jetpack, a cargo pilot sucked into the Bermuda T

Capcom

One of the in-development video games that we're more intrigued by every time we see it is Dark Void, Capcom's upcoming sci-fi action title. The basic hook is simple -- while strapped into a Rocketeer-style jetpack, a cargo pilot sucked into the Bermuda Triangle has to zoom around and rescue innocent humans from some alien types.

Pulp origins aside, the game mixes fast-paced aerial combat with a standard cover-based third-person shooter. That you can kick your jetpack into high gear at almost any time makes the action unpredictable -- you can just as easily zoom past enemies and attack them from behind (or above), as shoot through them the old-fashioned way.

Getting a chance to have some hands-on playtime with the game recently, it lived up to many of our expectations, but also showed a few challenges. Flying around in wide-open outdoor spaces was easy to get the hang of, anyone who has flown a video game airplane or spaceship will find it feels familiar. Smashing headfirst into a rock formation was predictably fatal, but at least somewhat easy to avoid.

In a nod to Grand Theft Auto's near-universal sublimation of the entire games industry, one can also "hijack" the one-man (one-alien?) space scooters the bad guys fly around in and use their increased firepower and shielding.

When the game transitions to the ground, things get a little tougher. The concept of standing behind some crates taking potshots at enemies isn't exactly new, and the cover-and-fire system in Dark Void works reasonably well, but isn't nearly as interesting as the in-air portions.

Capcom

While zipping around the clouds is fairly idiot-proof, using the jetpack in more confined situations proved to be a task we weren't up for, and always ended up with us splattered against a wall (to be fair, using a high-powered jetpack in a confined space is probably a bad idea in real life, too). The game's developers say they're still tweaking the difficulty and controls, and we hope they can find a more user-friendly balance.

Perhaps the game's most unique element is what they refer to as vertical cover. Our jetpack-enabled hero can periodically find himself at the bottom of a cliff, in a missile-silo-like tube, or some other high-rise environment. In these cases, he can jump up vertically from ledge to ledge, holding onto the underside and peeking out to fight, then using a jet-assisted jump to reach the next level. Similar to the old PC classic Descent, it's an interesting way to mix up the X and Y axis, and can be disconcerting if you're not good at instinctively figuring out spatial dimensions.

Hopefully we'll get a closer look at Dark Void at this year's E3 video game trade show , and the game is expected later in 2009 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Find Your Tech Type

Take our tech personality quiz and enter for a chance to win* high-tech specs!