9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Super light-hearted action,
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This review is from: Dark Void (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I have just finished Dark Void and I enjoyed it immensely. This game has been pasted by some of the critics but I think this is largely unjustified. The story is quite good - you are flying through the Bermuda triangle and are transported to the Void. An alien race was banished here by humans years ago and is trying to re-establish its old dominance of earth. The story can be a little difficult to piece together however if you don't find enough of the journals scattered throughout the game that fill in the background.
This is one of the few games that uses GPU based PhysX (like Batman: Arkham Asylum). To access this feature you must install a large patch (approx. 320MB). However there is a problem as this only enables PhysX at its low level. If you want to access medium and high you need to patch the patch (approx 35MB download). This second patch kept breaking the game for me - it crashed to desktop immediately. I got it to work by ignoring the instruction within the patch to restart my system until after I had launched the game once and checked the higher levels of PhysX were present. I've got a dedicated GeForce GT220 for PhysX processing and this ran PhysX on high no problem despite the game claiming you need a dedicated GTX9800. That seems like overkill - there was a similar claim in Batman but the GT220 coped without any difficulty in that game too. If you've got an old GeForce 8000, 9000 or 200 series graphics card from a previous build try installing it in a spare PCI-E 16X slot and enable GPU PhysX in the forceware control panel and see what you think. I achieved a consistent average framerate close to the vsync cap of 60 FPS with the GT220 for Physx and my main card a GeForce GTX285 for the rendering on a 24" monitor at 1920x1200. I monitored the GPU usage using FRAPS and the dedicated card was working fairly hard much of the time, particularly when hovering with the jetpack. There were a few stutters during the game but thankfully these were few and far between. The most obvious stuttering occurred in some cutscenes which seemed strange but this was confirmed by some reviews so it is the game not my system. The game uses the ubiquitous Unreal 3 Engine and in my opinion the graphics in Dark Void are much better than many recent games that use this engine. Textures are reasonably detailed and polygon counts fairly high. I was particularly pleased by the vivid colours which looked very vibrant on my H-IPS monitor. The character models looked a little cartoony but this is a bit of a comic book type adventure so that fitted the style of the game quite well. The first part of the game is set in a jungle and I found the blurring of the background had been overdone - anything more than a few feet away was blurred which gave me eyestrain. This prevents pop-in completely but could have been toned down a little. This was less noticeable on later levels. One criticism I have of the graphics is the game does not appear to be set up for the 16:10 aspect ratio. At 1920x1200 resolution I got black banding at the top and bottom of the screen. However if I set 1920x1080 resolution, a 16:9 ratio, the whole screen was filled and the stretching of the HUD was only slightly noticeable as the circular radar became oval.
The best part of the game was the ability to fly using a jetpack which I've never experienced in a game before. Initially you can just hover but later you can fly properly. I found the default for the mouse was the wrong way round - every time I tried to climb I nosedived into the ground but this is easily corrected in the options menu. I've got a programmable keyboard which records macros so by tapping a single button I could perform spectacular barrel rolls and aerial u-turns which was great. The jetpack is armed with machine guns which led to some fantastic aerial dogfights with enemy flying saucers. There is the normal element of RPG in Dark Void in common with most recent shooters (Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, Red Faction Guerrilla). By killing enemies and collecting the energy this releases you get tech points (experience points) which can be used to upgrade weapons. Unfortunately the game uses checkpoints for saves - there is no quicksave. Fortunately these were quite close together so if you were killed there was not much backtracking. One anomaly was that you kept all your tech points and weapon upgrades if you went back to replay a level (called chapters). This means you can grind if you want to and unlock all the weapon upgrades much quicker. Another quirk is the production of a log file in Documents\My Games\Airtight\Dark Void\Sky Game (or a similar filepath depending on the operating system). This appears to serve no useful purpose but halfway through the game had swollen to about 2GB in size! Deleting it regularly seems to have no adverse effect on the game at all. One criticism I have with the gameplay is that the objectives were sometimes unclear. I sometimes had to replay a section to listen to the verbal instructions from another character again as the on screen objectives were not sufficiently detailed to enable me to progress.
Overall I found this a thoroughly enjoyable adventure romp. It seemed about the right length and pacing to me - it moved on fairly swiftly and finished before it ran out of ideas and got too repetitive. If you want a fun game that has an interesting story, good music, good fighting, great flying, runs fairly smoothly and looks fairly good then you should get this. It isn't pretentious, arty or deep which is how I like my games - they should be fun!
Hope this helps.