The Five: Dark Void
The 10-cent tour: The Rocketeer meets Gears of War.
1. The title refers to a section of the Bermuda triangle where Will, a down-on-his-luck cargo pilot, is stranded after a crash. Things start out looking relatively normal, but quickly become more foreign as Will encounters all sorts of weird machines and hostile alien creatures deeper in the Void. Luckily, Nikola Tesla (yes, that Nikola Tesla) just happens to be hanging around, ready to provide Will with some firepower and the rocket pack that forms a large part of the gameplay.
2. You can fly. Will's retro-futuristic rocket pack looks and feels like something out of the movie "The Rocketeer," hurling Will through the air with impressive force (I especially like the flailing limb animation on display as he hurtles side-to-side). There's complete freedom to go in any direction, and even pull off 360-degree loops with ease. Don't worry -- there's a self-balancer and a re-orienting "hover mode" to help prevent vertigo. And there are built-in shoulder guns for strafing runs, so Will isn't a defenseless speck up there.
3. You can fly anywhere. While other games might have a specific flying section followed by a run-and-gun fighting section, in Dark Void, "once we give you the jet pack we don't take it away," a Capcom PR rep explained. Pinned down by enemy fire? Fly above and behind them to turn the tables. Or just rocket past them to the end of the corridor and make a break for it. Be careful, though -- indoor flying can easily lead to some rather ... explosive collisions with walls.
4. Combat goes vertical: Using the rocket pack, you can grab the undersides of platforms, using them as cover from alien enemies firing at you from above. You can even reach up over the lip and fling nearby aliens down the shaft behind you. Think Gears of War turned on its side. It can all be a bit disorienting at first, but eventually you get used to the skewed perspective. "You can always determine which direction you're going by which ways the body falls," a PR rep said.
5. Be prepared for a lot of Quick Time Events. There were at least a dozen situations during the short demo in which a button appeared on-screen, just begging to be pressed quickly to trigger a pre-set animation sequence. Hey, if you're into that kind of thing, more power to you.
The Crispy Forecast: It looks like they're trying to meld the best of action flight sims with the best of first-person shooters. A tough combination, to be sure, but they seem to have some good ideas about how to pull it off. Dark Void is one to watch for.
This preview is based on a hands-on pre-alpha demo of the game at CES 2009.