Dark Angel - Box

Dark Angel
Ages: Teen

James Cameron's, Dark Angel starts with all the components necessary for truly great gameplay. There's a strong heroine with a compelling quest. There's a bleak and believable near- future milieu. There's a faceless evil corporation. There's voice talent from the TV show. And finally, there's the Xbox - the most technologically advanced gaming console in the world.

It's almost criminal that so much potential was utterly squandered.

The game starts out engagingly enough. We're treated to nicely-rendered video scenes of our heroine, Max, in her future dystopia of "Post-Pulse Seattle". We find out that she's a genetically engineered super-weapon who's escaped from her creators. We're sympathetic to her quest for identity and peace as she passes from adolescence into womanhood.

Unfortunately, we're then dumped into a terrible ripoff of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Brainless, repetitive bad guys? Check. Glowing stuff you're supposed to pick up? Check. Awkward sniper mode? Check. Clumsy hand-to-hand fighting controls? Check. Gratuitous, supposedly witty comments from the heroine that get old by level two? Check.

But Dark Angel doesn't stop there. Early in the game, we find out that we're supposed to be...wait for it...STEALTHY. Max has a "stealth mode" that allows her to move silently in a crouch. She can also move silently/stealthily by hugging walls, fences, and other large objects. The only problem is, the bad guys are set up to move in interlocking sentry patterns. Once they spot Max (and it doesn't take long), it's the same old button mashing story. To add insult to injury, a timer starts when Max is spotted. If she doesn't escape the level before the timer runs out, she's captured and it's time to restart the level. It goes without saying that the timer is unforgiving.

It only took me a dozen or so times to get through thet through the first level like this (the third level in the game). I quit playing the game in frustration after another dozen times through the next level. I'm 30 years old. I've been playing computer and console games since Pong came out. I shudder to think of what this game must be like for a 12 year old girl.

Hey! Game developers! Wake up and smell the silicon. "Keep on dying until you beat the level" is not the same as "engaging gameplay". Great story, good puzzles, responsive controls, and thoughtfully planned levels are the way to win over your audience. Is that really so much to ask? For Dark Angel...apparently so.

Summary: An unqualified disappointment. James Cameron's, Dark Angel gets a big thumbs down from me, and a loud raspberry to boot.

Reviewed by: Finn Kish - 01/03

  • Dark Angel
  • © Vivendi Universal $19.99
  • Xbox, PS2
  • To Order: PS2 http://www.amazon.com
  • To Order: XBox http://www.amazon.com