Dark Sector - updated hands-on

High-stress gunfights, flying buzzsaws and horror come together as we mutilate our way through abandoned Eastern Bloc streets

Of course, Dark Sector isn't just a mutilation-heavy bloodbath. In the early parts of the demo, we needed to keep moving constantly, and because Hayden's new superpowers don't make him bulletproof, we frequently found ourselves pinned behind cover as squads of baddies hammered our position with AK-47 fire - or, worse, rockets. We could snag the weapons our enemies had dropped - often by throwing the Glaive at them, which was cool - but since these lasted only as long as the bullets that remained in them, they were small comfort. Apparently, Hayden will be able to upgrade his conventional weapons in the final game, but - much like the mysterious new superpowers he'll be granted later on - we didn't get to see any of that.

Still, even with the near-constant gunfire and crushing despair of the dead environment, it was a pretty cool place to explore. The browns and grays of the city streets weren't much to look at, but they were phenomenally detailed, and it was fun to vault over cover points, commandeer rocket-launcher nests and climb up onto high ledges to get the drop on the soldiers ahead. The only real sticking point was trying to run, which moves the camera to a tight close-up on Hayden's back as it shakes all over the place; it's a cool effect, but it's disorienting, especially if you're the kind of nit-picker who likes to see where you're going.

Also disorienting were the pockets of radioactive gas we'd occasionally wander into, which messed with Hayden's mutated senses, turning our vision into a distorted, blurry mess. Imagine looking at a funhouse mirror through thermal goggles, but with slightly differentiated shades of gray instead of colors, and you'll have a basic idea.

As it turned out, all the wandering and fighting was just a warm-up for when Hayden finally found his way indoors, blundering into a large building that was choked with some sort of infected plant matter and swarming with low-level, zombie-like mutants. The zombies weren't too much of a threat; they could absorb a lot of bullets, but they'd go down quick with a hit from the Glaive. Even so, it was creepy to suddenly run into small groups of them while exploring the building's dark, decaying rooms.


After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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