Darkwatch Preview
PS2 – First Person Shooter
By: Andy Levine

Falling into the same horror genre with games such as Resident Evil 4, Sammy Studios’ latest production is entitled Darkwatch. While playing, you’ll find yourself in an all-out battle against the undead as your fight for the sake of your soul.

The main character, Jericho Cross, was a former outlaw who maintained a fat wallet by robbing trains in the West. Unfortunately, on your last job an Ancient Vampire Lord bites you, turning you into a half-man half-vampire being. Afterwards, you are forced to work for the Darkwatch Society, where you must destroy the undead not only to save humanity, but to save yourself as well.

With the help from other members of the Darkwatch Society, Jericho fights his way across the West, in pursuit of the vile Vampire Lord. Using your superhuman capabilities, you know have the strength to take heavy damage, perform unheard of stunts, and wield an advanced array of weapons to destroy everything that crosses your path. Only by engaging your arch nemesis with your newly acquired powers will you be able to save mankind from eternal damnation.

This first person shooter has a very distinct feel that most other games are lacking. For instance, if you are walking and stop all of a sudden, your character will drift in a ghostly fashion and slowly break to a standstill. While you can still expect the traditional aiming style for any shooter game, a Matrix-type element can be used if you kill enough enemies. It allows you to slow down time and make your enemies glow, allowing you to take your time and destroy an incoming horde of enemies. The double jump, a technique mastered by the vampires, allows you to jump a great distance above the undead, making their melee attacks useless. Most importantly, Jericho has a rage meter, and when it is full you can expect all Hell to break loose. When you activate the rage mode, your melee and weapon attacks will deal a great amount of damage, resulting in one-hit-kills most of the time, except for some special bosses. While this might seem like a lot to handle, the controls are very easy to learn, and Darkwatch really manages to feel like a first person shooter should feel.

The graphics in this game, while not jaw dropping, are still aesthetically pleasing. The character models are rich in detail, allowing you to see every bone in the skeleton’s body. This comes in handy because the character’s have region specific hitboxes, allowing you to blast off a leg or an arm if you want to. All of the levels take place at night, so it was important for the developers to create a giant, glaring moon overlooking every level. A lot of the environment is interactive, such as tombstones, TNT explosives, and levers and switches that unlock new areas. Every gun has a luminous metal plating, giving them an authentic western look. They also have a nice kick to them once fired, and the muzzle flash displayed is also pretty to look at. The bullets even leave a trail of turbulence as they pierce the air, which is a nice feature. However, there are many instances where the frame rate drops to a point where the game is almost unplayable. Other bugs include the muzzle flash disappearing on some weapons, reload animations simply not showing up, and a rather limited view distance that makes the scope on the sniper rifle almost pointless.

Darkwatch delivers a great audio performance as well. A very low breeze in the background adds to the sense of horror delivered, the nonstop crying of the undead as your creep through the graveyard will send sharp chills up your spine, and the roaring of weapons firing as you keep up with a train on horseback will make you understand how admirable the sound is. If you play this game alone in a pitch dark room, expect to be frightened out of your seat a lot.

Overall, Darkwatch is a very promising first person shooter game. The horror aspect is well portrayed due to the details of the enemy, the gloomy settings, and the rich sound all blending together to create a terrifying experience. Darkwatch is expected to hit the stores this upcoming May.