Dark Sector - updated hands-on

Although the glaive provides a lot of the game's fun, it's really the least of what Hayden can do. As his infection advances and he becomes more powerful, he'll be able to generate a bubble-like shield to deflect projectiles, or unleash an explosive burst of whatever element the glaive is charged with. These talents will come in especially handy as the monsters he faces get beefier, going from militiamen and slow, stupid zombies to dog-like horrors, metallic humanoid monsters (some of them invisible and sneaky) and huge, four-legged walking tanks.

To be fair, though, there'll usually be a bazooka handy to help you deal with the walking tanks, and we're told that you'll even get to pilot one later on. As badass as they are, though, they're a lot less threatening than the soldiers who show up in hulking, robotic armor, of which we've seen exactly one. Tough, nigh-invulnerable and persistent, these things haul around terrifyingly huge Gatling guns, which will start to whine ominously every time so much as a part of your body is visible to the robo-trooper. Taking them down means disabling three weak points on their robot suits before delivering a toe-to-toe finisher, which is tougher than it sounds. Sadly, once they're down, their fearsome guns are too big to just pick up and wander off with - although Hayden will later score his own special suit of armor that'll give him the strength to haul them around.

Gigantic cannons aside, guns play a huge role throughout the game. Hayden's equipped with little more than a pistol to start with, although you can steal your weapons from dead or disarmed enemies - but thanks to DNA trigger locks, these won't work for long before short-circuiting. Lucky for you, then, that the game is littered with entrances to the Lasrian black market, where you can buy a staggering assortment of exotic guns and grenades with the money you'll get from breaking open chests or selling the weapon upgrades you'll find.

In fact, the game's first level is all gunplay (as well as all black-and-white, for reasons that will soon become obvious). As the game begins, you'll control an as-yet uninfected Hayden as he blasts his way through a Lasrian prison to find a captured CIA operative. This mission - which is presented entirely in black and white, for reasons that will soon become obvious - plays like a straight-up Gears of War knock-off, with players sticking behind cover and popping out to shoot at Lasrian guards in a prison complex.

Apart from an irritating inability to blind-fire around corners and an irksome tendency to walk backward very slowly, controlling Hayden felt natural and responsive, and we were easily able to gun down prison guards in rapid succession. They caught on quick, though, and turned out to be smart enough to flank around us, stick behind their own cover and force us into a retreat more than once. Even so, they were nothing compared to what waited up ahead.


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