Preview: Dark Void


333w ago - Right, we're gonna get two words off our chests straight off the bat. Crimson. Skies. See, you won't read many previews of Dark Void without the inevitable mention of this all-but-forgotten stylised Xbox airplane shooter, which sadly joined such luminaries as Beyond Good and Evil and the ace Psychonauts in the 'bloody great but no bugger bought them' category of videogames. Which was a real shame, since it was very good indeed.

Still, it looks as if somebody pretty senior at Capcom still believes in devs Airtight Games, and the result is Dark Void. Dirge plot aside (some ancient devils who used to rule over Earth but were turned upon by humankind have risen again for vengeance) Dark Void is every inch a sexed-up next gen Crimson Skies lovechild - from its Nathan Zachary-alike chiselled hero with a giant rocket pack strapped upon his back to the very steampunk aesthetic and the presence of, yep you guessed it, all sorts of flying contraptions straight out of Terry Thomas' wildest fantasies.

Void Zilla
Though the trailer hinted at demonic forces straight from the ninth level of hell, the actual adversaries appeared to be machine-gun-toting weirdos donning gimp masks. Gaze past the dull-looking scrapping and shooting though and Dark Void appears to have neat tricks up its coiffured sleeve.

First up is that rocket pack, which promises to give the otherwise laboured platforming a sloppy kiss of life - since our chappie is able to blast across yawning chasms, up vertical, dizzying heights, freefall from outer space and mosey along the outside of spaceships in a Zero-G environ-ment. Gamers who suffer from vertigo might blanche, but we couldn't get enough of the snazzy blur effects and the eerily realistic sensation of gravity - and the potential pitfalls one wrongly timed boost could herald...

Then there are the vehicle bits, which recall some of the battles in Crimson Skies - with you piloting a futuristic bi-plane (if that doesn't sound like the absolutely biggest contradiction-in-terms ever) and some bizarre UFO-meets-gyrocopter contraption in exhilarating dogfights. Fingers crossed Airtight will pull both potentially excellent but disparate sections into an equally compulsive whole.



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