First Impressions

Happy Weekend TAY!

I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend around my house. I just spent two days driving back and forth for medical appointments in Toronto and with all the traffic, construction, and accidents, I spent way too much time in the car. It certainly didn’t help my aching back or my nerves. I’m not used to driving in Toronto during rush hour anymore and I was amazed what a stressful drive it was. Too many cars and too many people live in North America’s fourth-largest city and it has been decades since I lived there. I guess I’m just not a big city boy anymore.

So, with my back still bothering me and gaming being a little difficult, I decided to put Prey down after my initial stab at it and try something I was less eager to play. Boy, did I pick a doozy.

I decided to play Capcom’s Dark Void.

So, I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat, I don’t really like Capcom’s games.

Sure, there are some Capcom games I’ve had fun playing. I played the crap out of 1942 when it hit the arcades and who can deny the greatness of Ghost ‘n Goblins. Capcom had a strong presence during the heydey of arcades and were pioneers in both gameplay and graphics. Leaving their arcade presence aside, I struggle to think of Capcom games that were made for the home market that I’ve truly enjoyed.

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Part of it is that Capcom just rubs me the wrong way aesthetically. Often their audio and visual choices are offensive to my senses. From terrible dialogue and awful voice acting to gaudy visuals and crappy character animations, I almost never find myself drawn to Capcom’s titles.

Yes, I know Capcom has many fans from Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, and Mega Man but I’ve never really enjoyed the games from even these big franchises. Sure, Resident Evil (1) was a multimedia pioneer for the PS1 and I played a lot of Super Street Fighter on the SNES, but I always preferred the stylings of Mortal Kombat and Silent Hill to Capcom’s more flamboyant titles. Thankfully, we live in a world where there are games and game companies that appeal to a widely diverse customer base.

When cornered to pick my favourite Capcom titles, I think of Maximo and Dragon’s Dogma, though, I am looking forward to trying Resident Evil 7 and DmC.

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Dark Void is definitely not changing my mind on Capcom. I feel there is a wall in the lobby of Capcom’s headquarters with the slogan “Strive For Excellence, Settle For Mediocrity”. Dark Void definitely fits this bill.

For those who don’t know about Dark Void, it is a third-person cover-based shooter with a jetpack. Yes, a jetpack! I love games with a jetpack and all those yummy physics to play with. Yet, even with a jetpack, this game can’t escape the ho-hum approach.

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Drake, Is That You?

Dark Void makes the worst first impressions I have ever witnessed in a game. The game is split into three episodes which I am estimating will take me 9 hours to complete. (I’m just starting the third episode).

The first episode is dreadful. You don’t have access to the game’s main draw (the jetpack) until the very end of the episode, so the player is forced to play a very unsatisfying third-person shooter for quite a while. The mechanics are serviceable but not terribly fun and the accompanying dialogue and cutscenes are painful to endure. Think of a really bad Stargate episode and you’ve got the story of Dark Void.

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Even the immensely talented Nolan North can’t save the dreadful lines that he was paid to deliver, I can almost hear the cringing in his voice when he delivers some of the worst of the dialogue. It is also weird that he is using his standard “Drake” voice and that your character looks a little like Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. I get confused in the game when they call me William instead of Drake.

The second episode sees the jetpack come into full play and the game does start to pick up. Nothing is saving this game from the terrible presentation, but the mechanics of the jetpack are fun and being able to immediately transition from ground-based shooting to full 3D flight are well done. However, it isn’t until the end of Episode 2 that the player’s skills with the jetpack are even remotely challenged.

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I have high hopes for Episode 3 which seems to have started off well. I’ve gone from thinking that Dark Void is crap to something bordering on “alright”. It feels like this game didn’t have enough time or money to really build the experience these developers clearly wanted. I at least give them full marks for the idea but it falls short on execution. I would have liked to see a sequel, possibly in an open-world setting, but I doubt Capcom will resurrect this franchise.

I also finished Sonic Mania with my son last week. I could write pages on how cool this title is, but I’ve blathered on too long about Dark Void. Suffice it to say that Sonic Mania is the second best Sonic 2D game I’ve played (Sonic CD is still better) and absolutely is a must play for every Sonic fan.

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I’m hoping to finally watch Wonder Woman on 3D Bluray this weekend and likely polish off Dark Void. My son is starting up with testing again at school and I have a math test to help him study for, but I am also hoping my son and I can start in on Halo 2: Anniversary on Xbox One.

So, what are you playing this weekend?