GC '07: Dark Sector Hands-On

D3's action title was playable for the first time at this year's Leipzig Games Convention, so we tooled up for some hands-on time.

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LEIPZIG, Germany--Not much has been seen of Dark Sector, but developer Digital Extremes and publisher D3 chose the Leipzig Games Convention to give the game a playable unveiling. This third-person action game sees you taking the role of an infected black-ops agent endowed with superhuman abilities. Now being chased by the agency he was once a part of, Hayden Tenno harnesses his infected body to become even more powerful, while outrunning his previous employer across Eastern Europe.

After sitting down to play the game at the D3 booth in Leipzig, it's clear to see that the game takes its inspiration from Gears of War. The run-and-cover mechanic of Epic Games' acclaimed shooter makes an appearance here, and the melee kills are rather reminiscent of the Epic title as well. Instead of the futuristic setting, though, Dark Sector takes place in a contemporary Eastern European setting, and you do battle with biosuited government agents.

Dark Sector incorporates a unique weapon called the glaive: a sharp, boomerang-like device that's controlled by Tenno's newly-mutated arm. It can slice limbs off both on its outward and return journeys, and you can also sling the glaive at a number of environmental elements such as fire, ice, and electricity to collect their effects. This means that you can use the weapon to electrocute enemies, set them on fire, freeze them, or even just light the way through a darkened corridor. There's plenty of potential for this weapon in the finished game, and while the demo only showed the electricity effects, the developer promises that the weapon will have uses for both attacking and puzzle-solving.

In addition to the glaive, Dark Sector puts a whole host of traditional handheld weapons, gun emplacements, and melee-kill options at your disposal. The demo we played offered an arsenal of handguns, shotguns, and grenades to play around with, all of which provided different ways to dispatch the enemy. The handgun is fairly weak but it is precise, allowing you to take off an enemy's gas mask from afar. Manage to perform this delicate shot and your enemies will run around trying to hold their breath, at which point you dish out destruction much more easily with a shotgun or your glaive. Go up close to an enemy, press the B button, and you can perform deadly neck-breaks instead.

The government operatives won't just stand there and take your attacks. They promise to dynamically adapt to your offensive, taking cover from glaive attacks and tossing gas grenades at you to compromise your vision. The Leipzig demo also offered a chance to see the first boss of the game, the colossus, who makes an appearance in the fourth mission. He's fairly stupid, climbing around a church and throwing debris at you, but it's meant to be a gentle introduction to using the advanced features of the glaive. To beat the creature, you need to cover the weapon in fire and then throw it at the enemy in order to stun him. From there, you go in close to the colossus and perform a series of button presses to wound him, much like the quick-time events in Shenmue and Tomb Raider: Legend.

It's clear from the demo that Digital Extremes intends to combine the gameplay of Gears of War with the horror element of Resident Evil 4. At the moment, it's also reminiscent of the recent Playlogic game Infernal, and it's clear there's still some work to do before the February 2008 release date. We also know very little about the multiplayer game at this point, other than the fact that the developer promises it will be innovative. We'll keep an eye on how the game is progressing, and as soon as an update arrives, we'll make sure we check it out.

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