Dark Void Preview

Capcom shows off its Airtight-developed title that pits you against aliens and flying saucers.

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Dark Void has been a pretty inscrutable title since it broke last October. Besides the announcement video and initial word, there hasn't been much going on for it. Thankfully, the silence was broken at Capcom 's recent press event, where reps from Capcom and developer Airtight shed some light on the upcoming game and demoed a level. At its heart, the game asks a very simple question: If aliens kidnapped you, would you freak out or stay mellow?

The game's story casts as you as a fairly unlucky guy who's sucked into an alien vortex and winds up in the void, Bermuda Triangle style. It turns out you're not the first human to get nabbed by the aliens, called Watchers, and there's a small contingent of humans surviving within this mysterious space. The action revolves around you exploring your new surroundings and trying to find a way out.

The demo kicked off with our character waking up and discovering he's not in Kansas anymore--unless Kansas is currently under siege by alien forces. The demo recalled the opening of Halo in that you're running about as all hell breaks loose around you. The pacing sped up as our guy grabbed a weapon and started defending himself. While at this point the demo seemed pretty standard, the action shifted considerably when the jetpack and vertical combat came into play. The notion of the vertical combat is straightforward; the character just zips up, grabs onto something, and starts climbing up, using anything he can for cover. But once you factor in the mobility offered by the jetpack, the action gets awesomely frantic (though not necessarily friendly to those prone to motion sickness--anyone watching may need to pack some Dramamine).

Capcom and Airtight will be pitting you against aliens in the upcoming Dark Void.
Capcom and Airtight will be pitting you against aliens in the upcoming Dark Void.

A bit later in the demo we saw more free flight as our boy upgraded his hover pack to a jetpack. As with most of the weapons and accessories you'll collect, your gear is upgradeable to bigger and better items. The jetpack was key for the final sequence of the demo, which showcased air combat, jetpack versus flying saucer. Yes, at first blush this doesn't sound too fair, but that was before the air jacking, when our intrepid hero yanked at some plates around the saucer and got rid of the pilot. From the sound of it you'll have at least two options when trying to take a craft, either disabling it or taking out its shields and knocking the pilot off so you can take the controls. The demo faded out as a massive, robotic, beetlelike boss hauled on up and gave us a menacing glare.

The look of the demo showed some promise and nice bits of tech. The visuals were detailed and the environments had a nice sense of scale. Everything felt big and wide open, which helped sell the sense of flight and vertical combat. The art style and designs in the game looked interesting, especially for the Watcher vehicles. We're curious to see more of the aliens and their world. The demo's New Mexico-mesa look was a good fit for the action, and the closing tease of the boss has us eager to see where the visuals are headed. We also have to call out how smooth the action runs, even this far out. While the animation still needs some polishing, the game's frame rate was surprisingly smooth.

Dark Void is looking like an intriguing title to keep an eye out for. Airtight seems to be getting into the right zone, crafting a slick successor to Crimson Skies. We don't care if it isn't a proper sequel, we're just looking for some flying, ship jacking, and action done right. If the game can deliver this, we'll be pleased. At the moment we see some promise and are hoping to see everything take a more consistent shape. Dark Void is slated to ship next year. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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