From Dusk Till Dawn Preview
We take a look at the PC adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's quirky horror movie.
For those who may not know, From Dusk Till Dawn was a horror film released in 1996. It was written by Quentin Tarantino, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and based on a story by Robert Kurtzman. The game takes place after the movie and has very little ties to it, but nonetheless it should be pointed out where this game comes from, just in case anyone is afraid that it is based on the two miserable sequels of the original (which wasn't exactly Citizen Kane to begin with).
Nonetheless, From Dusk Till Dawn the game is a third-person action title from Hubert Chardot, the creator of Alone in the Dark, and his development team at GameSquad, whose previous title was The Devil Inside. While Hubert may have created the survival-horror genre with Alone in the Dark, this game is a far cry from the fixed camera angles and puzzle-oriented gameplay of that classic title. From Dusk Till Dawn has virtually nothing that resembles a puzzle and instead focuses entirely on action--and lots of it.
This game thankfully has dropped the cumbersome stationary camera and instead lets you manipulate it with the mouse while controlling the character's movement with the keyboard. This setup will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played almost any third-person title. Like any game of this nature, there are the occasional camera goofs, but it works pretty well nonetheless. Like a few other recent games, when the camera gets backed up against a wall, it simply pops into a first-person perspective. In fact, it's actually possible to play the game from a completely first-person point of view, although it does look a bit odd when playing this way.
In From Dusk Till Dawn, you take the role of Seth Gecko, the role played by George Clooney in the original film, although he does not provide the character's voice here. Gecko has been arrested and sentenced to die for the murders committed by his brother, the psycho Richard Gecko, who was portrayed in the film by Quentin Tarantino. The game begins with an in-engine cutscene that shows your character being put on death row. Meanwhile, in a different part of the prison, a convict turns into a vampire and starts a riot, killing guards and going about his vampire business. When you're given control of your character, your jail cell opens up, and you walk out to find the place in total chaos. The game isn't too heavy on storytelling, but there is a story here, which isn't all that different from games like Half-Life. Essentially, your character has to find a way to get out alive, and to do so, he'll need to find help from others in the same predicament. The game is pretty linear, with very little backtracking. Most levels have you running to one particular area, where you will meet someone else or have to pull a lever or switch of some kind. From time to time, you'll be joined by a computer-controlled character, some of whom will fight alongside you, while others will run for cover as soon as a vampire shows up. The story is pushed forward through real-time cutscenes, which appear when a story event is triggered. There are few, if any, scripted sequences that happen during normal play.
Bring it On
Not all levels are the same, of course. One level early in the game drops you into a first-person perspective from behind a giant Gatling gun, which you'll need to use to mow down the hordes of vampires that are coming down the hallway. It's fun in a way that's reminiscent of the old light-gun shooters from days gone by. Other levels have you escorting people from one location to another, and there are also a few levels in which you're defending an area from an onslaught of vampires, backed up by a group of computer-controlled characters. There are a lot of enemies in this game, but there aren't all that many different monsters. Throughout the game, you'll see only a handful of different models and animations, and you'll see them quite often. The only real variety is in how they appear, as some will be lurking behind doors or objects and others will drop down from the ceiling above you. Some enemies are more powerful and therefore appear less often than others, but even these are repeated frequently throughout the game.
One thing that needs pointing out is that the enemy AI is not particularly sophisticated. Once an enemy spots you, it will run toward you or occasionally run for cover. There are a few quirks in the AI, however, as it's possible to actually kill an enemy before it spots you. It'll just stand there idly, waiting for you to come around a corner. Enemies will run for cover, but they'll also sometimes run around in a small circle, posing no threat but making you waste ammunition as you attempt to put the poor thing out of its misery. Hopefully, this will be addressed in the final version of the game.
From Dusk Till Dawn is pretty much a pure action game, but the influence of Alone in the Dark isn't completely gone. The game isn't particularly suspenseful, but it can be a bit nerve-racking nonetheless, because ammunition can run low pretty quickly if you aren't careful. Also, while there are items you can pick up to restore your health, long stretches of the game will go by before you actually get your hands on one, and your health and ammo are not recharged between levels. As you progress through the game, you'll come across 19 weapons, which range from the standard pistol and shotgun to more interesting ones, such as a flamethrower, electric sander, crossbow, and flash grenades. In true Duke Nukem fashion, your character will occasionally spout witticisms depending on how you are doing. Some of these are actually pretty clever in their own demented way, like "I'm gonna beat you like a red-headed stepchild." But others are just a bit puzzling in the context they're used, like "Remember the Alamo!"
From Dusk Till Dawn is already available in Europe, so the version we were able to try out is the one that's out overseas. The game ran smoothly without any serious bugs, and there hasn't been any need for a patch. When it's released here, the game will be virtually identical, with the only change of note being the switch in publisher, from Acclaim--who distributed it overseas--to Dreamcatcher Interactive. Look for it to arrive at the end of September.
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