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Darkwatch

Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft Europe / Capcom
Developer: High Moon

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PS2/Xbox Preview - 'Darkwatch'

by Thomas Wilde on Aug. 26, 2004 @ 1:43 a.m. PDT

Darkwatch is a cinematic (FPS with an original premise that blends Vampire-Horror and Western genres. They grind their enemies for fuel, fashion their skin into protective cloaks and create weapons designed to exterminate en masse, and they are the good guys. They are the Darkwatch, a vigilant strike-force that has protected man from evil incarnate since the dawn of civilization.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Sammy
Developer: Sammy
Release Date: Spring 2005

Pre-order 'DARKWATCH': Xbox | PlayStation 2

"Ho hum," say the morons when they first see Darkwatch. "It’s yet another gothic Western first-person shooter, pitting an armed-to-the-teeth, pissed-off dhampir against all the undead forces of the old West."

Then they realize what the hell they just said, do a double-take, and say, "Wait. Those don’t actually come out very often, do they? …has one ever come out at all?"

This would be why they are morons. Some people were talking smack about Darkwatch at E3, because… well, I’m not entirely sure why. It looks great.

Darkwatch is the story of Jericho Cross, the newest member of an ancient and powerful occult organization. Crippled and left for dead by the agents of a vampire lord he unwittingly freed, Cross must travel across the old West to track the vampire down. If he doesn’t, he may complete his transformation into one of the undead, thus damning his soul for all eternity.

There are countless undead monsters between Cross and the vampire, because, hey, undead. Cool. Using a blend of his vampiric powers and advanced firearms (we’ve seen a revolver, shotgun, rifle, and a dynamite launcher; the final build will also include several mystical items created for Cross by the Darkwatch), Cross will of course be smiting said undead minions.

Among other things, you’ll be able to fight from the back of Cross’s demonic steed, as well as from inside any vehicles that you might happen across. ("Historical accuracy" is not on the list of Darkwatch's virtues. "Being a huge badass" is, however.) Each enemy in the game, whether living or dead, features location-specific damage, letting you blow off zombies’ limbs, take the hat clean off a mouthy cowboy’s head, or make a demon dance by shooting at the floor at its feet.

You can also explore the gothic West over the course of several nonlinear missions. As you progress through Darkwatch, your actions will contribute to Cross’s reputation. That in turn will influence how people react to him. When you start the game, ordinary townsfolk don’t know the difference between Cross or one of the monsters he’s fighting; at one point, Cross’s good deeds are rewarded with a signpost through the chest. You can choose to either live up to this bad reputation, or try to rise above it.

Visually, Darkwatch doesn’t look like a PS2 game. It’s coming out simultaneously for the PS2 and Xbox, which usually means the Xbox will look like a PS2 game with a higher framerate, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. Even on the current build, Darkwatch was sporting smooth animation in an engine that featured real-time physics, without any hint of "jaggies" or slowdown. When you pitch a lit stick of dynamite into a tavern full of screaming zombies, and bits of said zombies come flying out at you a second later, it’ll do so without missing a beat.

As of this writing, Darkwatch is also slated to feature a variety of multiplayer modes, with unique maps and games for online play. One would presume that this means the PS2 version will also be online, which brings that particular total to… a mildly embarrassing number. Seriously, what is this, the second online FPS on PS2, if that?

Anyway, that aside, I like killing zombies in new and interesting places and times, so I’m excited about Darkwatch. If you, like me, are a sworn enemy of the undead, Darkwatch is set to come out in the spring of 2005.


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