Chocolate and peanut butter, bacon and eggs, waffles and golden syrup... sometimes when you take two great things and combine them you get something even better.
However, as Britney Spears and K-Fed have shown us (as shocking as it is for us all) sometimes these things just don’t always work out, and Dark Sector is another unfortunate example of this. It takes inspiration (or one might even say, it steals) from the features of some really great games. Gears of War, Resident Evil 4 and Heavenly Sword to name a few. How can this go wrong, you ask?
You play as Hayden Tenno, a CIA cleaner sent to a fictional country where a madman has released a dangerous infection. To cut a long story short, you get infected, and that’s where things start to get interesting. Let me take a quick second to mention that the game makes some curious artistic choices. My favourite example of this is the first level, which takes a page out of The Wizard Of Oz (congratulations if you can understand that) and it’s only when you become infected that colour comes into the world.
It’s also at this point that your body slowly starts to become encased in metal and you grow a three bladed "glaive" from your arm. The glaive is the key weapon in this game. You can throw it as a boomerang, and fairly early on you'll gain the ability to guide it mid-flight (that’s the part “inspired” by Heavenly Sword). I must admit, this is a lot of fun; especially when you guide it perfectly to chop up multiple bad guys. There is actually an achievement (Xbox 360 version of course) for getting a double decapitation – awesome! There are also lots of other powers you develop throughout the game, such us being able to absorb fire, electricity, and ice into the glaive for added effects. You can also turn invisible (Predator-style) for a few seconds, and more. By the end you feel like a fairly powerful hunting and killing machine with a really sharp boomerang at the ready.
So yes, you can chop people up and when you aren’t throwing the glaive you will probably be ducking behind cover and shooting at the bad guys – “inspired” by Gears of War – with a very limited arsenal of guns. You may also pick up enemy weapons, but they will short-circuit after a few seconds when an infected person is using them. There are also a few context-sensitive close-up finishing-off or fighting moves (thank you Resident Evil 4 for the inspiration); which all look pretty damn cool even if you get tired of seeing them by the end of the game.
This is the biggest problem with Dark Sector. I just got tired of it all by the end. It starts off very strongly but does not maintain the momentum. The story had potential to be interesting but in the end fails. This is mostly because nothing is truly explained and we never know anyone's motivation for anything. Apparently we play as someone who is not a good person and has done some dark deeds in the past. We never know what though; a flashback was needed. Same goes for the bad guys, we just don’t know why anything is happening or the point of any of it. I’m big on stories in games, so this was particularly disappointing for me. You could tell this one had potential but it just wasn’t fleshed out enough.
Neither was the gameplay. There are a lot of cool ideas – especially boss fights and puzzles – and they do go together well for a while but eventually it all just starts to feel very repetitive.