Content at a glance:
Violence: Enemies, both human and mutant, can be decapitated and/or dismembered, with large blood and goo spray (often in slow motion), and some enemies scream in agony.
Language: 7 uses of s**t, and 1 of “Oh my God”, d**n, and “Holy Mother of God!”.
Other Issues: The games’ atmosphere is dark, and your character starts out as nothing more than a morally ambivalent assassin.
You play as Hayden Tenno (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum of Smallville), a “clean-up” man employed by a top secret U.S organization. As the game begins Hayden is seen infiltrating a military compound in the fictional Soviet nation of Lasria, which has been overrun by a virus, all the while complaining that he has a splitting headache.
And that is the only thing he can feel.
You see, Hayden suffers from a real-life disease (congenital analgia) that doesn’t allow him to feel pain. So when he is infected, he isn’t driven mad by pain like every other victim of the virus. This allows him to use the virus-inflicted mutation in his arm (which shows itself in the form of a “glaive”, a disc with 3 nasty looking blades attached) to his advantage. And that’s where the fun begins.
Dark Sector plays out much like Gears of War. You control Hayden from an over-the-shoulder perspective, and from there you can zoom in to use your weapons. You’ll also have to make good use of cover if you don’t want to be blown to bits.
The game has received quite a bit of criticism due to it’s similarity to Gears of War and other games of the genre. I disagree. Dark Sector takes all the great elements of the games that came before it, and it polishes them to a level never seen before. For instance, in Gears of War the same button that made your character sprint also made him take cover, which resulted in many untimely deaths due to control mistakes. Dark Sector fixes this problem by making you press the dodge/cover button twice when your near a wall or overturned car. This seems weird at first but once you get the hang of it the game becomes incredibly smooth.
But now comes the main thing Dark Sector does differently: The Glaive. While Hayden can carry a pistol and temporarily use other guns (like assault rifles), the glaive is always with you, and it’s constantly evolving. It starts out as a boomerang type disc that you can throw at enemies from afar or use to slit their throats up close, but as the game progresses you gain new abilities, like being able to control it mid-flight, using it to pick up “elements” (like fire, ice, and electricity), creating a shield that deflects enemy fire, and even turning temporarily invisible. All of this keeps the game fresh and fun until the very last minute, unlike Gears of War which I found got tedious and repetitive.
All the areas in the game have a post-apocalyptic look to them, complete with destroyed buildings, ruined vehicles, and a constant gray look. All of this is accentuated by an incredible graphics engine, which makes even this colorless world seem vibrant. The character models all look great, and enemies look bone chillingly disgusting.
All the characters in the game are voiced by professional voice actors, and it shows. Dialogue has the right amount of emotion, inflection, accenting, etc, that makes it a great addition to the game, as opposed to boring padding. Sound effects are good, with the glaive making different sounds depending on the surface it hits, and all the guns have distinct sounds to them.
Violence: There is no real way to put this nicely, so I’ll just say it like it is; the game is very bloody. Shooting enemies will make them spurt a reasonable amount of blood, and grenades send them flying. But the real carnage comes with the use of the glaive. Enemies can be decapitated and dismembered, which is seen in very close detail if your guiding the glaive. All of this loss of limbs is shown in bloody detail, and is often accompanied by disturbing screams of now armless enemies. You can also execute finishing moves, which include breaking enemies’ necks (no blood), breaking their arms and then slicing their throats, breaking their backs from behind, and one especially bloody one (only used on certain mutants) has Hayden slicing his way up an enemies’ abdomen and then decapitating him.
The mutant enemies themselves are more disturbing than bloody. They spew black goo, have extremely deformed limbs, but they don’t act like humans (think of them as zombies).
Language: Surprisingly mild. The 10+ hour game has a total of 7 uses of s**t, 1 “Oh my God”, 1 d**n, and 1 “Holy Mother of God!”.
Sexual Content: None.
Moral Content: Hayden starts out as a morally-ambivalent character who cares nothing for other people’s lives. Early in the game he shoots an ally in the head after he’s gotten the information he needs because his boss said it would be too troublesome to extract him. However, as the game progresses, Hayden shows signs of change, like when he disobeys orders to go save a man who helped him, and he seems truly repentant about his past actions.
Dark Sector is fast paced, action packed, and incredibly fun. It stays fresh until the very end, and I had a great time playing it. The violence is harsh, but far from “realistic”, and it’s not nearly as bloody as say, Dead Space. But as the ESRB rating says, I don’t think anyone under 17 should be playing it.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
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