dark thumb Darkest of Days Xbox360 Review

Time travel, we’ve all thought about it, it’s a fantasy of most everyone really, what if we could go back and change history for the better, or for the worse.  A first person shooter based on that premise might be rather good right? It would have to be handled correctly though and done right to make it a good game. What if you could go back to the Civil War with a pulse cannon and kick some butt, or back to another part of history and change the tide of war, in the game I have for review today you can do that and more. Sounds like a great game right, well it is and it isn’t…

Today for review I’ve got Darkest of Days for the Xbox360, and it’s a game like no other really, it’s premise is time travel, it’s a first person shooter and one that allows you to fulfill your time traveling fantasies.  When I first heard about this game I was rather excited, it sounded like a great idea, the screen shots and trailers I saw looked fantastic, but once I started playing the game I quickly realized that it just wasn’t all I was hoping for. Though I can concede that usually when I look forward to something it’s normally a letdown, so I shouldn’t’ have been too surprised by this really… but the game isn’t all that bad, read on to check out a couple movies and screenshots and the rest of the review…

As usual we’ll start off with box shots.. not sure why I include these all of the time, just habit I guess, but sometimes the box art is worth it..

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We’ll start with the idea behind the game, you work for Kronotek, the company is not really a company but an organization that polices time travel. In the future Kronotek has developed the ability to travel in time, but they found out they couldn’t actually do it, so they go throughout history and collect MIA people and soldiers to work for them. The idea behind this is that you’ll never be missed since you’re listed as MIA and no one knows just what happened to you. You start out the game at the Battle of Little Bighorn, there you’re fighting Indians, you get shot and then just in the knick of time a time agent pops in and saves you from your impending doom. You’re listed as MIA because of an apparent paperwork screw-up, imagine that right, that puts you somewhere else, so according to records you weren’t even there. Somebody lost the paperwork plain and simple…

Once you’re in the future you’re healed and put to work by Kronotek, and well, from what I gather, you don’t have much of a choice but to work for them, so you’re sort of a slave to the company. In the future you’ll meet Mother, supposedly she is just an assistant that has taken over for the head scientist that has went missing, and well you’ve got to fix a bit of history and find the scientist.  Mother is just a set of eyes on the viewing screen and a voice that tells you what’s going on and what you need to do next.

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While you’re playing you’ll have access to many different types of weapons from the future and from the time period you’re in, but there’s a catch there, you don’t get to pick the weapons, you’re partner Dexter does that for you. There’s the first flaw in this game, I can understand keeping the time stream and keeping up the appearance of being there, but they even tell you in the game that you can use the futuristic weapons because it’s so frantic on the battlefield that no one will notice. So if no one will notice why can’t I just use them anytime I want?!

You’ll get points for completing missions, and there isn’t many of them really, but the points will vary on how well you complete the mission, and you can put those points toward upgrades. The upgrade idea is interesting in itself, but it’s generic, apparently you seem to be upgrading your skills with the weapons, but you’re not because one of the upgrades is for the clip capacity of the guns and another is for rate of fire. So, I guess in the future any upgrades you get carry over to any weapon you ever use…

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Sometimes you can choose what mission you want to go on, towards the end of the game though it’s only one choice. Before each mission you’re brief by Dexter about what’s going on and what needs to be done.

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Then off you go to travel through time in a time bubble..

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The graphics in this game can be confusing at times, what I mean by that is that some things look great, and other look like something that was produced five years ago…

Specifications:

DARKEST OF DAYS

In DARKEST OF DAYS , you’ll get to experience some of the most varied gameplay ever released in one title.  Things will never get stale as you travel to distant times and fight alongside people from that time period.  Fighting in Antietam (the bloodiest day of the American Civil War) feels much different than fighting on the side of the Russians at Tannenberg (where the Russians withstood 140,000 casualties in WWI).

Fight in FIVE different Time Periods     
Whether its in Pompeii, Antietam, WWI, WWII,  or Little Big Horn you will fight with real weapons from the time period. You will battle against enemies that fight in different ways, all reflective of how fighting was done at the time.

- You will fight against the Confederates (and the Union at times), facing a staggering number of troops, all fighting in unison. Ready, aim…steady men…FIRE!

- You will jump from the trenches in WWI to lead an attack against the Huns.  You will fire artillery to hit distant targets.  You will defend to the last man!

- You will fight in Pompeii, while Mt. Vesuvius is spewing ash and fire into the atmosphere. You will fight amongst a frightened population, fleeing for their lives.

Play From Opposing Sides Of Conflicts    Nearly every time period offers game play from each side of the conflict. In trying to keep history pure, you have to undo mistakes you make, which may require fighting from the other perspective to "mend"

Unleash Hell With Futuristic WeaponryWhat could you have done with an automatic rifle during the Civil War, or some futuristic laser sighted pulse cannon in the trenches of WW I? There are times where you have no other choice but to bust out the big guns.


Another interesting aspect of the game is the ability to use more than just the weapons you carry, you’ll be able to use some things that are in the game like cannon, howitzers and mounted machine guns, they mix up the gameplay a bit.

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You’ll notice for those shots above that the game is dark, a lot of the game is like that, I don’t think I saw any sunny days at all, but I guess that’s where the title comes in right?

Along with period weapons you’ll get to use futuristic ones as well, everyone loves a sniper rifle and sadly you only get to use it through one mission.

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During the game you’ll run across people who cannot die, it’s called the Butterfly Effect, if one of those special people get killed then all of history will be changed. Luckily for us those people are lit up like Christmas Trees, or more specifically they glow a bright blue, an aura it’s called. These people cannot die, you can wound them to get t6hem out of the way, or you can use a special weapons, these little balls are attracted to the special people and you can knock them out with them. Cool concept and a good way to knock out a bunch of enemies at once.

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Like any fighting game you’ve got to reload your weapon at times, in Darkest of Days a meter appears on your screen with a sweet spot in it, if you hit the sweet spot your reload will be faster, if you miss the gun will jam.

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I mentioned Dexter is your partner, for many missions he’ll be there to help you, but he doesn’t help, not at all. You’ll get shot and killed and he’ll be standing there watching it happen, he does nothing but get on your nerves really. I tried to shoot him just to shut him up many times, sadly you can’t kill him… and Dexter is just like you, an MIA, but he’s from 2001, specifically 9-11, he was a fireman, but he wasn’t on duty, so he’s listed as MIA. For the most part this isn’t a bad thing, but for many people it still might hit a nerve and they won’t appreciate the reference at all. It’s a gamble…

The actual gameplay isn’t too bad once you get past the stuttering and frame ripping that goes on quite a bit. There are parts in the game where things just slow down a bit too much, and the you’ll see the frame just splitting, not good for continuity at all. Here’s an example of what I mean by frame rip, that would be part of the hand just plainly cut off:

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Load times for Darkest of Days are horrid, I even transferred it over to my hard drive thinking that would fix it, and still the load times were just unbearably long.

One other thing that bugs me about this game is that there is no damage meter, you’ll know you’ve been shot by a red mark appearing on your HUD in the direction of the shot and as you get shot more the border of the screen turns a bloody messy red. It’s to the point sometimes that you might as well be dead because you can’t see anything anyway.

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Darkest of Days is short, way to short for a single player game, and it doesn’t have much replay value either. Of course they leave the game opened ended as well, once you finish you’ll be left with you jaw open saying ‘what?’. Obviously they left it open for a second part, but it would have been much better had the entire storyline been included.

A saving grace for this game would have been a multiplayer option, I think it could have been done well and it could have saved the game truly. I know I would have loved to be able to be fighting other players on line in certain time periods, it could have been a great game really…

Back to shooting people, there’s going to be two videos below, watch them and see what happens when you shoot someone, there are times when I can blatantly miss the target and it’ll fall down. Things just miss when they shouldn’t and hit when they shouldn’t. The game can also be frustrating as well in regards to missing other things, there was one point where I had to run back across a log, I must have fell off and died 10 times before I finally made it across the log. I was blatantly on the log, but yet I fell off anyway… Oh well, check out the two videos below and that’s that…

I love the idea behind this game and it could have been awesome, but it just fell flat in too many areas


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Conclusion:
Darkest of Days could have been an excellent game, they started with a brilliant idea, but they just implemented it badly in the end.

If there would have been a multiplayer part to the game then it might have been salvageable, but really it’s just not worthwhile.

I’ve also got the PC version of this as well for review, and I’ll be taking a look at that shortly to see if there are any differences between the two versions, so here’s hoping right!

Honestly I did have fun playing the game, I did want to continue playing to find out what was going to happen next even with all of the faults it was still a bit enjoyable…

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Pros:
+Excellent idea and premise
+It is fun once you play it for a bit and get over the faults
+Graphics are decent when not stuttering and tearing

Cons:
-Terrible and useless AI
-Long load times, even from hard drive
-Frame rates drop all of the time, screen tearing as well
-Shot detection is way off
-Game is short
-No multiplayer
-Bad acting

Grades:  
Overall score 7 10 thumb1 Darkest of Days Xbox360 Review
Design score 7 10 thumb1 Darkest of Days Xbox360 Review
Performance score 6 10 thumb1 Darkest of Days Xbox360 Review