Later on, there is a small but mightily effective armoury available to you – an SMG, which fires 60 rounds at a blistering rate; the workhorse assault rifle; a shotgun and a pistol. You can use these in conjunction with some of the unique environments in the ship to amusing effect. One section has you running around a gravity generator; as you blast enemies, they drift off eerily to the center of the generator. As well as the many weapons, there are mech suits, drones, and even the mighty alpha drone for you to periodically commandeer. It’s great fun, though it’s a formula familiar to anyone who’s spent any time with a modern FPS.
There are complaints, but they mostly center on the loading screens and the checkpoint system, which can trap you in those situations where you have one block of health left, but are dropped straight into a boss fight-type encounter. They also lend a trial and error element to play, thanks to the frequency of autosaving. If you don’t know what’s around the corner, there’s no penalty for blindly running in and factoring that into a plan of attack. You can do it repeatedly until you nail it. One example was a sequence which saw us on a lift that descended through a huge storage bay, and then we came under fire from all angles with only a dead drone’s rifle for protection. We died lots, but soon noticed another enemy position, so there came a point, after the umpteenth death, where we could nail them all in one run. A rating system might have eradicated this.
Alongside the usual Capture the Flag and Death Match multiplayer options are two great modes: Pitch Black and Butcher Bay Riot. Pitch Black wins out – it’s a six-player gamethat has five playing as Mercs, with only weapon-mounted flashlights to see by, hunting down Riddick who can see in the dark. The tension here is brilliantly thick, and there’s a balancing act in choosing weapons – the more powerful it is, the weaker the flashlight. Butcher Bay Riot sees players splitting into teams of Mercs, prison guards, and prisoners and battling over an all-important power cell. Teamwork is key; the two modes really top the package.
The chassis of Dark Athena is five years old and it makes for a safe and at times a predictable experience. Still, this is a credit crunch-busting package, and it’s highly recommended.
Apr 7, 2009