Review by sfcalimari
"A fun game at a good price."
Dark Sector is a 3rd person shooter that has a lot of elements similar to games like Gears of War or Resident Evil 4, but with a unique gimmick that sets it apart from the herd of third person shooters: the glaive.
Basically, you're some kind of government agent spy guy sent into a fictional former Soviet state, and early on in the game, you get a power that allows you to throw out a disk from your arm that you can use to hit enemies or collect items, then it boomerangs back at you. It's not a particularly mindblowing twist to the genre [really, it's been done before with the hookshot in Zelda games], but fortunately the gameplay and action in this game is fun and solid enough that overall this is a fun game to play. Plus it was released for PC's at a budget price so if you are looking for a decent single-player action game, there's no reason not to check this game out.
This is a third-person game and like Gears of War or many other games of the type, you can press a button to use walls and barriers for cover, then lean up and shoot around the cover. You can also dash forward or roll in any direction to evade fire. In fact the basic controls are almost exactly like those of Gears of War [other than the glaive].
The shooting mechanics are pretty similar to Gears too, but again, the glaive is what sets this game apart and will really affect how you use weapons in the game. Early on in the game (after a prologue level that introduces you to the game's sort of generic style of gunplay) in a cutscene you get infected for some reason by the main enemy and your character's arm gets all weird and suddenly you get glaive powers. Well just watch the cutscenes for yourself, the game doesn't do a very good job of detailed or interesting storytelling.
The glaive is a rather nasty-looking, spiky disk thing. You basically use your aiming button/key to aim it, then pressing the glaive fire button has your guy throw it out like a frisbee. You can use it to hit enemies, though it doesn't do much damage unless you hit their head, then it's usually a one-hit kill. If you don't hit their head it will usually stun them and make them an easy target for your gun, or will make the enemy glow red, then you can walk up to them and get a prompt to hit a button or key to do a finishing move, which has you do a little animation and kills them with one blow. Also you can use the glaive to pick up items like ammo or weapon upgrades, or hit switches. Or if you throw it into a flaming object it will set on fire and it becomes much more powerful and will set your enemies on fire if you hit them with it, which is always fun. Or throw it into a sparking electrical device and it will get charged with electricity and shock enemies to death. Later in the game you find some weird refrigeration devices that give your glaive freezing powers if you throw it into them.
Also you get new glaive-related powers as you go further into the game, all of which give you an advantage against the enemies as the game gets tougher. The game never really explains why you get them, you just progress to some point in the game and your guy clutches his arm as it glows and makes a weird noise, and you get an on-screen message saying you get _____ power and tells you how to use it. One power lets you slow down time and take control of your glaive so you can direct its movementsvery useful to hit out of the way switches or enemy heads. Another gives you a shield that deflects bullets. Another lets you turn completely invisible for a short while, which is fun to use to get stealth kills though it maybe makes the game a bit too easy.
Ok now that I've explained the glaive, I guess I can explain why it makes the game pretty intense and fun. Another unique gimmick of the game is that you can pick up enemy weapons, but they explode after about 30 seconds because they have sensors on them that self-destruct if you pick them upit's explained that the sensors pick up the mutant infection that you have. It's a bit of a gimmick, but basically it means you can't rely on enemy weapons to blast your way forward. It's pretty intense to be swarmed by like 20 enemy soldiers and have to rely on weapons you pick up from them that self-destruct after 30 seconds. You always carry a pistol, but it's a bit weak and no good at long ranges. You can however buy new weapons at a black market which you access from manhole covers, and the money to do so is lying around in levels which often requires some hunting. However, the money in the game can get really scarce, so you only really have the chance to buy one or two weapons. You can buy stuff like different pistols including an uzi-like one, a few shotguns, a couple of assault rifles, and a carbine rifle. Even though ammo is strewn throughout the levels, you run out of ammo pretty quickly so you have to be really careful about your purchases and how you use ammo, but at the same time you can't really depend on your glaive. So basically you have to be really resourceful, picking up enemy weapons when you can, using your glaive to weaken enemies or pick up their weapons, and using any other things you can find in the area. I don't know how you will like this style of play, but I really enjoyed having to be really resourceful when faced by dozens of angry enemies all toting automatic weapons.
Another thing in this game that kind of reminds me of Resident Evil 4 or other games is that often you will have to figure out something of a puzzle to get forward. Like at some point you'll come across some weird black thing stretched over a door you need to get through. You have to figure out on your own that you have to start a fire by turning on a gas pipe and using your glaive to set it on fire, then throwing the on-fire glaive into the black thing to burn it. There's quite a bit of stuff like that, which can sometimes get frustrating but it's a nice change of pace I guess.
So yeah overall the gameplay is pretty intense and a nice change from your average shooter game. The single-player game is fairly long, though it could have been longer, and I think it does a good job of keeping you on your toes by putting you in intense scenarios just when you think the game is starting to get get repetitive or boring.
As for cons, the game definitely doesn't really ever bother to give you a coherent or interesting story, which is annoying. Also the game doesn't really look completely polished. Also there's NO multiplayer aside from a LAN option. I can't really imagine the game would be unique or much fun online anyway though.
I would give this game probably a 7 if it was released at a $50 price tag, but fortunately for us pc gamers it was released at $19.99 (though a year after the console release date) so I'll give it an 8 for being a solid game at a good price.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/14/09
Game Release: Dark Sector (US, 03/24/09)
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