D3 Publisher gave me a chance to check out and play Dark Sector on the Xbox 360 and it rocked. The demo starts off by throwing you into the action and in control of Hayden Tenno. He’s your traditional superhero. You know good with guns and mutated by a cold war experiment to evolve a sharp disc throwing arm… maybe he’s not so traditional… enough about Hayden though. His back story wasn’t the focus of the demo, this was about action.
In the demo you’re walled up in a ruined, dimly lit fort where masked super soldiers try to spray you with intoxicating gas. If you step into the gas cloud the screen changes to swirling colors, which makes it difficult to aim and dodge gunshots. Hayden has to fight back and you can use his firearm, a standard pistol, to shoot rounds of bullets. When Hayden aims his gun the screen shifts to an over-the-shoulder camera, similar to Resident Evil 4. It will take more than a few shots to incapacitate a soldier and it is best to do this behind cover. Hayden can place his back up to a wall or duck under a pile of sandbags. After a soldier is shot down you can scavenge better weapons like a machine gun and a shotgun. Guns are one way to dispatch enemies, but after being mutated Hayden has a unique weapon, a retractable glaive. Hayden can aim the glaive to hit specific areas of an enemy, like their legs either directly or on the rebound. The glaive also has unlimited use, but it’s slower to throw compared to instantly firing a gun. If Hayden gets close enough to a trooper he can do a stealth kill where he uses the glaive to cut an enemy.
After moving further into the level you’re introduced to a new kind of enemy, a ghastly pink mutant that drags a hammer on the ground. You know when you’re about to encounter one of these because you can hear the creepy sound of metal from the hammers screeching on the rock floor. These enemies run right up to you and try to smack Hayden square in the face with the hammer. A few shots from a gun is one way to push them back, but Hayden has another trick. There is a dark room with a flickering fuse box that Hayden can find if he uses his glaive as a makeshift flashlight. When Hayden throws his glaive directly into the box it is temporarily imbued with electricity and it can shock enemies. Once the monstrosities are slain, Hayden can use throw the electric glaive into an open flame to charge it with fire. The fire powered glaive lets Hayden open a door by igniting vines holding a door shut.
I was told that there are going to be more glaive related puzzles in the final game and they are going to be intuitive like using the blazing glaive on the vines. However, the focus is clearly on making Dark Sector a quality action game. Digital Extremes is also working on some kind of multiplayer feature, but details about it have not been revealed. The other mystery about Dark Sector is the Playstation 3 version, which was not around to test out. The Playstation 3 version is still in development and it will use Sixaxis control… somehow. After playing a little bit of Dark Sector it’s shaping up nicely and fans of Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War will want to keep an eye out for this when it comes out in the first quarter of 2008.