Fed up with walking through those same research facilities over and over again in first person view? Seen enough mutated monsters? Sick of having to play that one Special Forces commando? The Darkwatch is the perfect FPS for you! You take on the role of Jericho Cross, en route through a world that mixes a western, a vampire tale and a horror movie. A game with fangs, or one with anaemia, read on to find out!
As said, you’re Jericho, an overall bandit. Unfortunately, your last holdup gets a bit out of control when you free the soul of Lazarus. He thanks you by cursing you into becoming a vampire and finds it necessary to unleash the necessary undead vermin. What follows next is a story in which you try to reach Darkwatch, an organisation that’s capable of stopping your new best friend. You get the help of some lovely females but you’ll have to do most of the shooting yourself and use your recently acquired vampire forces in this western shooter.
No shooter without weapons and Darkwatch doesn’t disappoint in this area. You get a pistol, rifle, shotgun, crossbows, dynamite and even a rocket launcher. Each one of them are nice toys and what comes in really handy is that they’re also powerful enough to bash someone’s head. I caught myself often just running towards my opponent to kill him quickly that way and save some bullets.
Next to your arsenal, your curse gives you also vampire powers. These include higher jumping power, a blood shield (which functions as an armour) and some sort of infrared view which lets you identify opponents and important things easier. The weapons, special powers and the fact that your opponents get location-based damage make for a very enjoyable shooter gameplay. The shooting itself feels powerful, the combat is swift, intense and challenging, and the controls are well done for a console game. Also the savegame system is quite alright.
The singleplayer campaign is quite short (10 to 12 hours) but very varied and entertaining. You get both exterior locations with flying and nicely modelled chicks as opponents but also claustrophobic underground corridors that are inhabited with hundreds of zombies. On top of that there’s a lot of different levels, the necessary variation during scenes where you can kick ass on your horse while gallopping through the immense plains or are humping around in a buggy, and there’s even some bosses for additional challenges.
Extra depth comes in the form of some sort of RPG-addition: you can choose between good and evil. This in the fact that you can choose between four good and four evil vampire forces which you can build up and that you can either free or eat the souls of Lazarus’ victims. Depending on your choice your forces will become more powerful. It’s therefore also necessary to remain consequent if you want to reach the highest levels of your powers. Unfortunately, this isn’t worked out any further and next to two different endings it will never influence the gameplay.
For a lesser known game, the graphics are excellently done. The atmosphere is over-the-top but the game does breath that typical western atmosphere, added with the necessary gore and horror which makes the whole unique. A welcome variation with the typical settings of other FPS games. The opponents are beautifully animated and also visually very cool. The same can be said about the surroundings that never bore and are filled with inspiration. Let’s also mention that there are quite some cut-scenes that push the storyline forward and deliver good work both on image and voices. Also the music and sound effects got the necessary attention with the typical western soundtrack and a lot of punch with the many shooting and explosions.
As good as the singleplayer campaign is, so bad is the multiplayer. There’s a possibility to play in split-screen and you can go online on Xbox Live with up to 16 players, but both the amount of modes as well as their quality disappoints. On top of that there are also little gamers online so it’s best not to add this part into calculation when thinking on whether or not buying this game.
Darkwatch is an original and very varied shooter with as strongest point the singleplayer campaign. The multiplayer is in the end only a disappointing option but the excellent finishing, both on graphics as well as sound, make up for a lot. Gamers who want something different from the typical settings but do like the usual action will do good to give the necessary attention to Darkwatch. When looking for a couple of days of fun on your own, you can’t go wrong with this Western FPS!