Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Darkness

Well, I've played another couple of hours of Darkness. And it's been up and down.

I really like the way they do cinematics: They are basically used to cover loading screens. As soon as the level is load you can skip the rest (press B) or you can watch the whole cut scene. It makes the best of a necessary evil. It helps that the cinematics area actually kind of amusing and entertaining. They definitely help set the mood and add some color to the main character (though the lack of lip sync tech is really noticeable in the dialog sequences).

On the down side, I'm having some issues with controls and -- indirectly -- save points. The crawling arm thing is really hard to control, especially when you need to creep into little gaps in order to unlock some gate/door. Between the level design and scripted AI reactions (my little critter points out gaps when he comes across them) I can tell where I need to go. The problem is that the crawling arm is really hard to aim with precision. It took me a couple of minutes to simply shoot through a vent on the floor. After I completed the task I was ambushed and killed because the enemies crept up on me while I struggled in vain to make the crawling arm attack them.

It was at that point I realized that the check point system could use some optimization: I was forced to replay about 15 minutes of game play instead of a more logical (based on my progression through the level) 2-3 minutes. At this point I turned off the game.

I also just discovered the Back button menu. It has access to all sorts of important information and I think I've figured out more about how my powers work. Sadly, I still don't have the kind of control over my weapons and abilities that I think I should. I've already mentioned the issue with weapon loading and switching. Other issues include:

  • Not knowing when my critter has died/got stuck behind me. Also, not having good ways to target and position him with confidence.
  • Not really following what my objectives are. I basically just shoot everyone until I can't find any more people. At some point my objectives get updated and I clear out and then wander around until I find some more people to kill. One prime example of this: I picked up dynamite, gasoline, and started a power saw. Yet I can't figure out why I needed to do any of that -- nor can I see the dynamite/gasoline in my inventory. What am I supposed to do with them?
I'll try it again for another hour or so, but I'm worried that the game play just won't be interesting enough to keep me going.

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