September 22, 2005
VIDEO GAME REVIEWS
by Glenn Given
Vampires! The Wild
West! Two great tastes that taste blah together. Into the creaking, aged
first-person-shooter genre limps Darkwatch, a game about a
totally-kick-ass-rocket-launcher-toting vampire who is stalking
supernatural evil in the gothic-tinged (read: everying is dark) backdrop
of spaghetti westerns. Actually, it’s not even that cool. It’s the kind
of concept that an ADD addled Hot Topic tween would pitch.
“Yeah, Vampires! Like
you’re a vampire with an evil horse and you’re, like, helped by a hot
chick with dynamite crossbows and killing skeletons who pop up with guns
and crap! Sweet!”
I can see the dollars
flashing in Capcom execs’ eyes. After all, how could you go wrong with
that? Vampires are cool. Westerns are bad-ass. Skeletons with guns are
scary. Hot chicks with dynamite crossbows are dangerous ... ly awesome!
And, yet, Darkwatch fails on nearly every level.
It’s a poor
first-person shooter with a limited selection of all the weapons we’ve
seen before. It shoehorns standard powerups (sniper scopes, thermal
sight, body armor) into the mix by calling them Blood Vision and Blood
Shields and other such nonsense.
It actually angers me
to reminisce about the sheer laziness of Darkwatch. They don’t even play
the one angle they have (the gothic-themed west) that well and the one
truly western element (horseback gunfighting) is an on-rails affair that
feels stilted and slow.
And the plot! Zounds!
Sweet Mary Tyler Moore Show on TNT reruns!
O.K., you don’t buy an
FPS title in hopes of an interesting story. But it’s certainly pleasing
when there is one, best exampled by Deus Ex or Half-Life. On the other
hand, sometimes the “story” can force itself onto your screen and scrub
raw what little enjoyment the mindless twitch, twitch, bang, bang of a
by-the-numbers FPS can muster. Get this, you’re Jericho, a wild west
train robber but this train, my friend, contains pure evil in the form
of uber-vampire Lazarus (a back from the dead character called Lazarus!
Who’d have thought?). Unwittingly you release this evil upon the land
and in the process get all turned into a vampire, too. Now you must
blast your way across the west until you send Lazarus’ foul corpse back
to the nether world. Pardon me is there a Pulitzer prize for hackneyed
gothic horror plots combined with revenge westerns? No? Well that’s a
Darkwatch does have a
solid 16-person multiplayer mode with a vaguely interesting “Soul
Hunter” game where players race around collecting souls to fill up an
on-screen meter. But it is hardly worth my $50.
There’s this game, called Halo 2, which does everything you need in a
first-person shooter. Darkwatch is the 98-pound weakling that Halo 2
pushes into the sand. Except here, Darkwatch will never, ever, ever
ever, benefit from Charles Atlas’ Dynamic-Tension program and return to
avenge his humiliation. Nope, sorry Darkwatch, Halo 2 took your lady
friend, and they’re off making babies.