Darkwatch comes at a time in this generation of consoles that most people will more than likely overlook it. For Xbox owners it seems like just another imitator in a long line of FPS games, to PS2 owners, well they never really have embraced the genre as much mostly because of the lack of a truly stand out title on their system. While it has a lot riding against it, there is certainly something you can appreciate about this game. It doesn’t try to pretend to be something it’s not. This is a straight ahead first person shooter with a vampiric overtones and a good back story. With a little moral choice thrown in for good measure Darkwatch certainly has a way of sucking you into it’s story and not letting go.
You play Jericho Cross, a rugged outlaw that is about to rob his last train. You start the game off by opening the door for one intense demon known as Lazarus. He was sealed up by the Darkwatch and now you have unleashed him to wreak havoc, way to go. In the process you are bitten by Lazarus and begin turning into a creature of the night. This aids the story and game play along quite nicely because as you continue to morph you will gain access to new powers such as super jumping and blood vision, which is a very cool effect that points out enemies and markers with white outlines. Your powers are also determined by the path you take, decide to take the souls of all your helpless victims and you will gain evil powers, think of it as a gothic version of the force.
The first thing you will notice about Darkwatch is how fast the action is. Almost from the start you are faced with seemingly endless waves of baddies for you to mow down. Best part is the action rarely ever stutters and the resolution is incredible, think TimeSplitters and you will have a good idea of the speed. There is also an abundance of weapons to choose from, whether you prefer the exploding arrows of the crossbow or the simple terror caused by a double barrel shotgun this game packs weapon style in spades. You can also use a melee attack which will become your best friends during reloads.
The levels can seem a bit drab at times; almost all of them have that eerie empty ghost town vibe. There are a few standouts such as the Darkwatch Outpost that really show how big the environments can be. Most levels however will have you tearing down walls of enemies with little more than fog and grave stones to look at. Don’t get me wrong the levels are very fitting I just would like to have seen some more outdoor type terrain.
The biggest problem with Darkwatch is that it can become repetitive at times. After you have gunned down crazy skeleton with scythes for the 500th time you will begin to question if the game has any meat to it. Thankfully the story and simple but effective control scheme never bring you to the point of true boredom. There is also multi-player for those of you who enjoy playing with others. Now pay attention because this is where it gets confusing, each version has its own style of multi-player for two completely different audiences.
The Xbox version sports the standard 16 player massacres enjoyable over Xbox Live. You can play an array of games such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a new type called Soul Hunter. The variety of maps is nice; especially considering you can play some of them at day or night time. My only gripe is that with more than eight players the game will not allow you to play standard deathmatch, it forces you to play team games. This is perhaps a designer choice because without teams it would become too hectic, but I also like to have my options available. The PS2 version on the other hand is an entirely different approach. You can only play two players on the PS2 and only in co-op. This is what I simply do not understand, people love co-op but to completely miss out on the opportunity to put a great shooter like this on the PS2 without online was a bad call in my opinion. Why not have both modes on both versions? It’s a simple request especially if we could play the co-op over the internet. Regardless both games offer some replay to accent the solid single player experience.
What this all boils down to is that if you are tired of the usual sci-fi and war themed FPS games plaguing our consoles today this is a breath of fresh air. It isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it gets the job done and is actually pretty damn fun to boot. I definitely recommend this title if you are into shooters at all and definitely if you are tired of the same old song and dance we have been enduring over the last two years.