Dark Void - Hands on preview

First look

Dark Void Logo
Last week Overclock3D was privileged enough to be the sole PC gaming website to be invited by Capcom Europe to their headquarters in Hammersmith for a sneak hands-on preview of Airtight Games' Dark Void. So it was that on a wintry Tuesday the Overclock-mobile was full of your favourite reviews heading towards the big smoke, talking rabidly about our current projects and our expectations of this unique game.
 
For anyone who has never been in the offices of a gaming or hardware company, suffice to say it would be much easier to stroll into the Tower of London and stick the Crown in your pocket, than to accidentally catch a glimpse of the latest slice of digital entertainment. We were led through so many key-card doors and up and down lifts that if the doors had opened to reveal Goldfingers lair, we wouldn't have been surprised.
 
Once ensconced in the test room the fun could begin. Naturally when releasing a multi-platform game it's far simpler to demonstrate it on the latest consoles, than to have tons of PCs with their various foibles, and so our preview utilised the Xbox 360 version of the game. Although this might be considered a negative, actually the game was easy to pick up and play with the clumsy pad, and the graphics suitably impressive, that we can only slaver in anticipation of the full-fat PC version.
 
 
Impressions
 
With a console each it enabled us to all try out various facets of the game. Believe me when I say there are lots of facets to try out too. An easy to navigate menu had the option to either play through the story mode, or to pick an individual level from the three main parts of the story and replay it.
 
The initial stages of the game are played on foot with a 3rd person "over the shoulder" style reminiscent of Resident Evil. Your character, William Grey, responds quickly to inputs, as he moves about the nicely rendered environment. Artistically similar to Uncharted or even the Tomb Raider series, there is a nice mix of discovery and action as you attempt to get a handle on why you are here.
 
Once combat arrives, and it does so regularly as it's the meat of the game, the crisp nature of the controls is brought into even starker contrast. Within half an hour I was blatting people with ease, and I'm very much a mouse/WASD guy and almost wholly useless killing things with a pad. Kudos to the development team there.
 
As you can see from the two screenshots below you aren't solely limited to gun-play. A very good cover system has been employed that manages to provide extra tactical depth without falling into the usual trap of you sticking to almost everything or leaping from one piece of cover to another when that wasn't your intent. The melee is one of Dark Void's hidden gems. For a long while it's only natural to play utilising the bravery of being out of range, but eventually you'll run out of ammo and have to get up close and personal. I lost count of the amount of Watchers (the antagonists) that I beat to death, and cannot recall ever seeing an identical animation. It's a claim often made about a game, but certainly in the three hours we had to play it holds true.
 
Dark Void Melee  Dark Void Cover System
 
The story is very immersive with lots of talk into your helmet from your fellow humans giving you guidance or hints, or performing some nice exposition. Without spoiling too much it quickly becomes apparent that, like all such things, all is not well. Dark Void would be pretty unremarkable if it was your standard shooter, but luckily the developers have had a moment of brilliance and, as the story progresses, you obtain a jetpack that gains more and more abilities as you progress. From the initial ability to jump higher and hover for a bit, soon you'll be flying and performing amazing manoeuvres and twists whilst blowing up all and sundry. The controls, once again, shine. If ever you've fancied yourself as a bit of a Rocket Ranger or, for the younger generation, replicating Iron Man, then this is the game for you.
 
Dark Void Jetpack 1  Dark Void Jetpack Combat
 
The interface is well laid out with a map on the top right showing you threats in the area, and your ultimate goal at that particular time. It certainly isn't as obtrusive or hand-holding as the ridiculous Oblivion compass or similar solutions and will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Elite, or X3. Each item on the mini-map either has an up or down arrow to indicate where they are in relation to you, or a full diamond if you are on the same plane as them. Whilst it's not quite so important in the relatively calm foot stages, once you're in the air this becomes a vital component to help reduce the frustration that can quickly occur when you finish a fire-fight only to find you haven't a clue where you are.
 
Graphically the game moves at a fair clip without ever stuttering even as everything around you burns and explodes. As this was preview code some of the effects were slightly rough. The lighting system wasn't fully in place leading to some odd shadows now and again, and the lack of anti-aliasing on the Xbox 360 was quite visible when up close. However at the distance you'll play the game it's unnoticeable and certainly on the PC we can easily sort that out.
 
Dark Void Rocket 2  Dark Void On Foot
 
The music for the game was produced by Bear McCreary who did the composition for Battlestar Galactica. The quality of his work shines as the music only enhances the experience rather than being some generic licensed tunes that play regardless of the action taking place.
 
Finally, it's not at all a mindless kill-fest. The story moves along nicely and there are some journals to acquire that I definitely wont be spoiling. Suffice to say whomever wrote them has a brilliant sense of humour and some of them made me laugh long and hard.
 
Any game in which one of the loading screens mentions 1.21 gigawatts of power can quickly take a place in our hearts, and we look forward to the anticipated 22nd January 2010 release.
 
Dark Void Pack
 
Many thanks to the fine folks at Capcom Europe for allowing us to get a sneak preview of Dark Void. Discuss this in our forums.
 
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Most Recent Comments

17-12-2009, 22:01:34

tinytomlogan
Just recently myself, Lasher and VonBlade all traveled to the Capcom UK HQ to get the chance to play an early version of their upcoming game Dark Void.

Continue Reading

18-12-2009, 01:11:45

AMDFTW
looks nice, good graphics

18-12-2009, 03:23:27

sammytomjohn
that blokes helmet looks suprisingly alot like the 1 out of timeshift i think it was called?

18-12-2009, 10:25:54

f0x.
Reminds me of rocketeer, love that film <3

18-12-2009, 18:16:35

zak4994
Pre-ordered ages ago alongisde BF:BC2 and SC:C

But I wonder if there are any acheivements?

18-12-2009, 18:27:42

Toxcity
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='zak4994'
Pre-ordered ages ago alongisde BF:BC2 and SC:C

But I wonder if there are any acheivements?
Here's a list of all games and upcoming games which have LIVE.

18-12-2009, 18:28:54

zak4994
Thanks for the list dude!

It was just as I had expected. I wonder how hard it would be to put in acheivements?

Edit:

The DarkVoid logo/text sucks btw. Looks like a comic book title lol.

19-12-2009, 04:14:32

Rastalovich
Nice article, have to say tho - did they confiscate cameras ?

19-12-2009, 08:51:21

tinytomlogan
no mate Ive got pics and a video, but we just need to remove the sound as you can here me talking shop with their rep, and some of the content cant be aired yet!

YouTube is a PITA with audio now too

19-12-2009, 13:03:56

lasher
Was a great day out and im sure once the polished version hits the streets it will be even better than the code we were allowed to play with.

The gameplay was a bit nauseating at first but that might be due to driving almost 400 miles and then sitting in front of at 32" monitor

( or the fact i was ill from paying £12 to park for a few hours, although top marks to Capcom for covering the expenses )

02-01-2010, 18:11:44

Apans
Looks cool!

will the game use DirectX 11?

02-01-2010, 18:12:53

Apans
Looks cool!

will the game use DirectX 11?

03-01-2010, 05:45:44

zak4994
I doubt it.

They seem to be sticking to Dx9 for simplicity I would imagine. Its not that big a game so no special treatement.

03-01-2010, 05:47:50

Apans
oki to bad. still looks like a great game.

11-01-2010, 10:41:35

Bungral
Only just got around to reading this.... Hammersmith ay... That's only 5 mins from me. Sega isn't too far away from their either.. Like 10 mins.

10-06-2010, 07:04:50

honeyhoney102
Finding Drivers for Unknown Products (no model numbers)

Finding drivers for unidentified hardware is perhaps the most frustrating task involved in computer services. It is a time consuming operation, aggravating to the technician, and often requires a continuous boot and reboot process. Research seems to pay off. A specific driver shows promise. But upon attempted install, it is rejected by the operating system. Now a failed install is one problem, but sometimes the wrong driver can bring about a complete system crash. In this event, even “safe mode” may fail to boot. This amounts to a dead OS and a serious restoration problem.

With over twenty-five years in computer service, I still grit my teeth when an operating system fails to identify the installed hardware. No matter what version of Windows is running, the “driver files search results” screen will look something like figure one.



And the dark cloud of finding drivers for unknown products (no model numbers) suddenly looms over my day.

When Microsoft Windows installs correctly, accurately identifies all hardware and associated drivers, and is then ready for the loading of application software it is an aid and a service to business and personal pursuits. But take away the audio drivers, and the musician’s task becomes impossible. Strip out the printer driver, and the author loses the touch and feel of printed material. Crash the video driver and the animation specialist is crippled. Crash the video to the maximum, and the operating system goes completely down.

So where should the search for drivers begin?

First, come to a full understanding that a complete system crash can be the end result of any mismatched hardware to driver situation. Thus certain preliminary steps should precede any efforts to correct an unknown driver problem. A current hard drive backup is the most complete solution to this threat. Several online companies offer free basic versions of their hard drive backup software. If you have the time, and the available storage space, make this your first priority.

If a full backup does not fit your schedule, at least backup your Windows registry. The steps are simple, and it may preserve your youth. As an added precaution, you may want to burn the backup to a floppy drive or a CD.

The following links to the Microsoft support site will detail registry backup methods for different versions of Windows:

• 98 – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/256419

• 2000 – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322755

• XP – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756

• Vista – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Back-up-the-registry

• 7 – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Back-up-the-registry

As an additional precaution, you may want to create a bootable CD. Though various methods for doing this are available, I find that Bart's Preinstalled Environment (BartPE) is free software that functions without error. Further details can be viewed at the following website: http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/.

Be sure that your registry backup is included on the created boot CD.

You can also create a system restore point. If working under Vista, perform the following steps:

• Go to, “Control Panel,” from your start menu and then

• Open the “Backup and Restore Center”

• Under tasks, select “create a restore point or change settings”

• Select a suitable destination, and then click “Create”

• Restore is a matter of repeating these procedures, choosing “Restore” rather than “Create”

Looking now at some of the process involved in finding drivers for unknown products (no model numbers), let’s address the missing video driver that is displayed in figure 1. Windows has already installed a default VGA driver, or else we would not have a screen display to view. So it is safe to select the “skip driver installation” option, and then click “finish” so that the OS will complete this stage of the procedure.



Figure 2 illustrates the screen properties as available through a basic VGA display driver. Note that the maximum colors are 16; the maximum screen resolution is 640*480. Most modern applications will not function within these display limitations.

In modern computing, two hardware components with associated drivers are completely indispensable. We must have some form of video display. When Windows installed a default VGA driver, the basic function ability of this first issue was sufficiently addressed. We can use the machine for driver processing purposes. Next, we will need Internet access. This means a network card with an appropriate driver must be installed on the computer system.

Figure 3 is a screen shot of the Window’s 2000 Pro device manager. Microsoft likes to change the location and access methods of “device manager” – this promotes the illusion of an OS upgrade – so I will not walk through a step-by-step of how to get here. I want you to note, from the screen shot, how a yellow question mark is placed over the video controller. This is what we are trying to repair. Network adapters are listed directly above the video listing. In this instance we have a working 3com network card.

Now if you have no other machine from which to work, and if your system lacks a driver for the network card, you may well be dead in the water. You might try defaulting to a basic 3Com or NE2000 network driver, but keep in mind that a faulty device driver can result in a complete system lockup. Thankfully, many modern network cards are present in the Windows generic kernel.

As we set about the task of finding drivers for an unknown product, this article assumes that your major issue is not in how to select and install a driver, but rather in how to find the correct driver. I leave the rest of this subject matter as is.

Name brand computers usually provide a web site with their own drivers and problem solutions. Yet even top names have produced some generic computers.



Figure 4 is a shot of an ESC K7SEM motherboard. This unit is located inside of an unmarked IBM school desktop system. Notice mid-picture. The ESC model number is located between the white PCI slot and the brown AGP slot. Though you may not see it clearly in the picture, the part number also includes a motherboard revision number. As all components: video, audio, network, modem, mouse, etcetera are motherboard inclusive, this number provides the resource as to locating any drivers required by this computer system. The system had no external identification. Opening the computer case provided the only means of acquiring this number.

When dealing with unidentified computers and drivers that the OS cannot isolate, there are two methods of approach. The first, and what I believe is really the most sensible method is that of opening the case. Though not every device will be stamped with a manufacture’s name, none have ever failed to be marked with a part number. Finding drivers then becomes a matter of Internet searching. The search fields might look something like the following: “+component +part number +driver”. The plus signs are used to force the search to include specific words. “Component” represents the name of the needed driver. “Part number” is to be the actual number as pulled from the part.

Driver detection software provides a second method of identifying components that defeat the OS. Though not always accurate, these type programs are quite efficient. I use them in conjunction with method one. Since the ultimate goal of finding drivers for an unknown product is to install without suffering a system crash or other software conflict, I count a confirmation between the two methods of driver identification as my mark to go.
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