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Monday, July 8, 2013

DARK PC Review - 5.5/10

There is a sort of unspoken rule among gamers that every single vampire game is horribly flawed. Suffice it to say I haven't found a satisfying vampire game to date. You want to know what the best one I've found is? Vampire The Masquerade. So, an unfinished game is better than this? Yes, emphatically yes. This game is bad. At first I was into, after I played it I hated it, before this review I thought I should at least get to a further point in the game before I reviewed it, but I've finally had it.
It goes under the guise of (and I'm quoting Wikipedia so don't get any gripe) "a stealth action role-playing video game", to which I have to say we can break this up into four separate categories. The first is stealth, second action, third role-playing and finally video game. Easiest first is this is a video game. Second is stealth which is done very basic and sometimes poorly which I will focus on later. Third is action to which I have to say "I've had more action with Animal Crossing" (which is not a compliment). Last is perhaps the most infuriating which is role-playing to which I have to say you need to redefine what your vocabulary says about 'role-playing'.
You know, I actually wanted this game to be good. "Role-playing, vampire, stealth game" just makes me so happy. But then reality sets in and I remember the vampire games I've played and how they disappointed me in one way or another.

The Good:
I do like cell shading graphics. Nice on my PC and nice on the eyes.
I don't hate the writing. It's a bit cliche but when seeing the things this game does, I wish cliche was on the list of things they did.

The Bad:
The stealth is irrevocably flawed. Enemies walk around in a set path, save when they notice you and if you've picked up this game then you'll either know or know soon enough enemies will notice you often. It's easy to get into the pattern but it's flat out boring. I don't hate it, but where it goes into bad is the execution. You have basically two stealth attacks: feeding and 1-hit kill. Feeding takes longer and replenishes your blood level which is used for powers. The 1-hit kill is a lot more stupid. You have to be right up next to the enemy and wait about half a second for said ability to pop up and say "That's good, you can use it now", same for feeding. This is stealth. Quick, fast and sneaky. I don't want to wait.
Combat is a graceful way of saying "trodding around like a ninny, taking bullets like a sponge till you drop". That 1-hit kill I mentioned? Ya, people can actually block that if they notice you. Stupid right? So on top of being shot at, you also have to deal with this long as fuck little kill animation (which makes no sense at all; snap his neck or something you dolt, don't fuck around and do some acrobatic shit, you are being shot at), which, by the way, happens EVERY SINGLE TIME you try to kill someone. I've estimated the time and it takes about 2-3 seconds. That may not seem like much but like I said, this is stealth which is fast and quiet. Acrobats have no place here. Your walking animation is so damn slow by the time you reach one guy, hit him twice (because obviously he blocked) and finally he's dead, you're pretty much screwed because you've just been hit enough times to die. That is not combat in the slightest. To make matters worse: you have no weapons, whatsoever. Okay so you might considering that I never got too far in this game, but this is about the second mission (trust me that's about 5 hours of perfect gamers and 8 hours of annoyance for everyone else) and I have no weapon to either defend myself or use as a ranged weapon. My powers just barely fit any criteria of a weapon. Guns versus Fists, who will win? Guns obviously.
"It's okay to kill these people because they are all evil" is constantly used as far as I saw. The story goes that this guy was turned into a vampire and now he needs his creator's blood to fully make the transformation or else he will turn into a ghoul (zombie like vampire). But, plot convenience! Drinking the blood of a powerful vampire will stop him from turning into a ghoul. The first guy is a curator of a museum, murders his own guards to put more guards in (cause that makes sense), cuts up a few museum visitors and feeds them to his own personal ghouls. Oh don't worry! The guards he put in place are in league with him and use ghouls as well! So it's all good! The same can be said for the second 'boss' who picks people up and uses them as his own personal hunting game. Oh and his name is Vlad... ya, really original. Gone is the moral dilemma of the vampire, "To feed, or not to feed?" just to say, "Nah, it's cool." In the second mission, you can't, I repeat, CAN'T kill civilians. Oh not like a 'Mission Failed'. You just... can't. Oh and they will alert the guards to your position so double fuck you.
This game is horribly linear. You start off in a club (small as hell), go to a museum and as you progress are locked out of most previous areas. If they put 'adventure' in the description for this game I would throw my computer at the wall. I could understand for certain things like making the game run better but even that fucks itself over. In conversations, the camera does this horrible disorienting thing where when it cuts to another person talking, the camera looks like it actually cuts. This is horribly disorienting because... why do it? A small gripe but when you think about it I am playing on my computer which is close to my face. Oh, this doesn't happen that much, just every single time someone starts talking after another person.
The vampire powers are... basic. Imagine the same upgrade system in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but totally wrong. You know those abilities that branch out to give you different effects or allow you to do different things with said abilities? Well there's all of one of those. The cool down time for abilities is atrocious and only when you've gotten to at the very least second tier you can lessen the cool down. The blood power meter is awful as well. You get two bars to which two skills can be used before you have to feed on someone again. The max for this is four. To make matters worse, you get one point for every 'level-up' you get. So powers that cost 3 points are going to screw you over because you'll have to level up more than three times (three times is usually for the last level of a power so add the three on the previous initial points you had to spend to get to the final level) and you'll be stuck with your powers which are becoming stale and boring. On top of that, some of them are worthless. One is supposed to make you less noticeable, but there's little to no change when the power is active, other than you just wasted a blood point. Another one makes enemies stunned for all of 2-3 seconds. Upgrade it more and it can be five seconds! (sarcasm) I've never seen something so worthless, ever.

The Meh:
There was one really good stealth thing that was done poorly. Sometimes there will be certain items on the ground that if you step on them, enemies will know where you are. It goes into Meh because it's usually used in places like boss rooms simply to make things more tense I would think.
The voice acting isn't terrible but it goes sour when you see the animation on the character's mouths when they are talking: it doesn't match up, at all. This isn't bad because it's minor and passable. Then again, why didn't they just do a comic book style conversations where characters are completely still? It would have made it look artsy and added to the game's feel.
Is there any music in this game? I don't even remember. Then again, I'm not going to start it up again just to see because I get bad feelings when that game is even on.

Personally, this whole experience has soured me to vampire games in general. Needless to say I won't be buying any anytime soon. Buy this if you hate yourself and your wallet, or if you're hoping to make a good vampire game and need an example to say "Okay, this is what they did wrong and we should stay away from this."

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