A HUDs Up On Dark Sector

Enjoying my cup of hot chocolate as I was, up in the games room of TSA Towers, I was startled when I heard Alex’s cries of, “Dark Sector, Dark Sector!” Terrified that our harddisks were about to revolve no more, I scuttled into the computer room to investigate. I was relieved when he said Dark Sector is the new game from Digital Extremes, it’s out this March, and could I make up some stuff about it for the site. I set aside my hot chocolate and got to work.

Dark Sector introducs a new hero to the PS3, an elite black-ops (something we’ve not had before) agent called Hayden Tenno. Essentially, a third-person action adventure game (something we’ve not had before), Tenno is sent on a mission into a dangerous Eastern European city called Lasria. The differentiator here is that while in Lasria Tenno is attacked by an unknown enemy, and when he wakes up he finds he has developed some inhuman capabilities. They key to the game will be harnessing those powers to survive. If anyone is thinking we’re talking about Second Sight, then just stop it right now.

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It’s been built specifically for the next-gen consoles and utilising that power we can expect a cinematic experience and hopefully the storyline to match. The game will be about more than just mission objectives, but also about Tenno’s journey in coming to terms with his lethal superpowers. If anyone is thinking we’re talking about Second Sight, then just stop it right now.

There’s a unique and compelling weapon that Tenno can use, but to be honest we couldn’t find a description of it, so we’ll tell you about the Glaive instead:

The Glaive is a bladed disc growing out of Tenno’s infected hand, and it can be used in a variety of unique ways. Except when we say ‘unique ways’, we just mean ‘ways’.

Way 1: It can be thrown at enemies – think Ratchet’s spanner.
Way 2: It can collect elements from the environment – fire, electricity and the like – to be used to interact with other things in the game – compelling, no?
Way 3: It can be used as a light source in dark areas – say what you like, that’s hardcore uniqueness right there.

What is more interesting is the boast that Dark Sector will not feature a HUD as in most other games. Instead, the character of Tenno will act as the HUD by showing ammunition levels, inventory, and health directly on the character. This sounds like a great idea, keeping you focused on the character and action, and not the HUD.

The conventional weapons in the game will be upgradeable, meaning they can be made more powerful as the game progresses. Along with the intuitive controls (pressing buttons) and the dynamic camera (it moves about), Dark Sector is hoping to deliver an experience that lets you focus more on the character and action than the muddlesome button-bashing and HUD scanning of other games.

AI is a hot potato these days, especially with the power that the PS3 can wield. Dark Sector’s AI is set to offer evolving enemy tactics, because they’ll be able to communicate amongst themselves, and therefore offer realistic repsonses to player actions.

The multiplayer side is broken up into two types: namely Infection and Epidemic. Taken straight from the PR blurb, here’s what to expect.

Infection

The Infection game type is a match between Hayden and the Lasrian military. One player assumes the role of Hayden while all others (up to nine) assume the roles of Lasrian Troopers. Hayden is considered the infected target, and it is up to the Troopers to bring him down. Once Hayden is brought down (“finished”), the Trooper responsible becomes infected and a new round begins. A match will run until either time expires, or a set number of points are reached. The ultimate goal of an Infection match is to have the most number of points when the match is over. Points are granted to Troopers by either stunning Hayden, finishing Hayden, or assisting in bring Hayden down and points are awarded to Hayden by killing Troopers (Troopers can lose points by committing suicide).

As a Trooper, the player will be armed with either an assault rifle or a shotgun, have a couple (of, OF – ed) grenades, and one proximity mine. Troopers can only attack Hayden, and so they can either work together (communicating via a shared chat channel) or go solo. In order to bring Hayden down, they must inflict a set amount damage which will stun him, and then, while he is stunned, perform a “finisher.” The Trooper that performs the “finisher” becomes infected and plays as Hayden in the next round.

As Hayden, the player has no allies, but is armed with a Tekna 9mm, the Glaive, all three Evolutionary Powers, and any weapons dropped by the Troopers or lying around the various maps. Hayden also has access to the elements fire, ice, and electricity (depending on the level) to use against the attacking Troopers.

Epidemic

The Epidemic game type is a team based match between the Lasrian military, and the Agency. Players are divided into two teams where (on each team) one player assumes the role of Hayden, and all others assume the roles of Troopers. Matches end based on a time limit, or point total, and rounds end whenever a Hayden is brought down. Team points are awarded whenever an opposing team brings down the other team’s Hayden, and individual points are awarded to players based on kills and assists (players can also lose points by committing suicide). Players can only communicate with other players in the same team, and can only attack players on the opposing team. Both the Troopers and the Haydens retain the same functionality they have in the Infection game type.

Muliplayer is available over a LAN or via the PSN, with each game supporting up to 10 players over 5 different maps. Each map promotes a different play style due to the unique layout and weather. Customisation via variables such as time limit, score limit, bots etc is also available. Online leaderboards feature too, so you can see how much better than TSA you are.

Dark Sector sounds like a next-gen Second Sight, but with an interesting multiplayer component added to the mix. If the no-HUD risk pays off and the AI is sufficiently clever to offer interesting combat scenarios, then maybe Dark Sector can rise above the average third-person shooter into something far more interesting.

Either way, we’ll know later this month.

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