By Nimish Chandiramani Published Date
01 - Sep - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Sep - 2007

He watched his friends die while he figured out how to work a shotgun, and stared in amazement as two snake-like creatures and a number of tentacles sprouted from his back and started whispering highly un-sweet nothings in his ear. Thus begins the story of The Darkness, and you must play as Jackie and figure out what this Darkness is, why it's infesting you, and, of course, kill people. And other... beings. That'll teach them to make fun of your hair.

The Darkness is a well-made game-I'll give it that. It looks good-even if the HDR effects are a tad overdone-and the background score is brilliant. And it's definitely got style, right down to the loading screens-instead of boring "Loading...", you get little bites of mafia wisdom from Jackie, and the game itself has you shuttling between the real world and a version of hell where World War I never ends. Jackie sometimes "sees things," making for some very F.E.A.R.-esque heebeegeebee-inducing moments.

The concept of this dark force itself is interesting. The creature feeds off shadows to gather dark energy, which in turn protects you from bullets and other forms of harm. You can also use one of the snakes to sneak around and kill enemies in beautifully gruesome glory. And then comes the best part-to gain more darkness levels, you have to consumes enemies' hearts. Ah, the merits of evil... You can also summon darklings: little minions, who lend a little comedy to the game (Ã la Overlord)-to do your bidding, be it blowing up things, riddling enemies with bullets or other activities of general carnage. This is all very well the first time you encounter it, but The Darkness suffers from some very annoying flaws.

First, there's the matter that first-person shooters and consoles don't go well together.  Second, the story-it drags awfully in places, especially the beginning, which tempted me to throw my controller away and call the whole thing off.

Thirdly-and this is the silliest-to keep the Darkness from being harmed by the light, you end up worrying more about lights in the room than enemies. It's like being trapped in a very stupid arcade shooter. Fourthly, this game, too, doesn't escape some of the annoying bugs that plague so many FPSes-you can be stopped dead in your tracks by a lowly tree-root or knee-high obstacles that four-year olds wouldn't think twice about: the same old nonsense. Tch, tch.

Rating : 6/10
Developer : Starbreeze AB
Publisher : 2K Games
Distributor : Redington
Contact : xbox360@redington.co.in
Price :
Rs 1895
Platform :
Xbox 360

Finally, the enemy AI is quite pathetic. The fact that I was more worried about the lights than enemies should have given you some clue to that end.

The Darkness is a decent game-the evil, it gets addictive-but not beyond the first couple of hours. There are much better things to do with your 360. Like play Gears of War.  


Sword of the New World: Granado Espada

Of late, it appears the Ragnarok hype has fizzled down. Now I'm holding a DVD of Sword of the New World, an MMORPG that was launched around May; the person behind this project is the same guy who made Ragnarok Online.

Well, you start the game and there is this painful wait while it gets updated off the Internet… Once logged in, you create a character (like in every MMORPG or RPG out there). There are five races to choose from-Fighter, Musketeer, Wizard, Scout, and Elemantalist, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

(For those who aren't familiar with MMORPGs, they are multiplayer games played alongside thousands of players, completing one mission after another. Experience is gained when you kill monsters, which moves your character to the next level.) Nothing really special there, but what's special is, you can create up to three different characters, and move all of them around the game maps while still having control over every character individually! There are plenty of quests and missions to keep you occupied for a long time.

It's fairly easy to level up, but some of the more powerful monsters can be a little difficult at times, and the lag doesn't help-so choose your monsters wisely.

All seemed to be going fairly well, but then came this monster camp. Get this-first you have crocodiles hopping around like kangaroos. Then you have roosters as large as the crocodiles. Just when you think you've seen everything, some of them explode when killed, into a mango, which you pick up to regenerate health. Perfect! Just like in real life…

The character outfits are very well-made, and more importantly, unique; not cheesy like in most MMORPGs. The environments are simple but colourful and fresh.

We knew lag was going to be the major issue with MMORPG servers based far away from India, but it didn't feel all that bad, surprisingly. There is a slight delay of one to two seconds every time you execute a Move or Attack command, but nothing that really dampens the experience.

Rating : 6/10
Developer : IMC Games
Publisher : K2 Networks
Site : www.swordofthenewworld.com 
Gaming PC 
nVidia GeForce 8800Ultra, Intel Core 2 Duo E6600,4 GB RAM, Windows Vista Ultimate x64, WD 250 GB 

Unfortunately, you don't come across a lot of players in Sword of the New World- it's a very young community as of now.

This MMORPG is only getting started and can be a crowd-puller given the right amount of exposure. No Indian servers yet, so we'll have to do with the European and American ones. Sword of the New World goes far beyond Ragnarok Online, but it's going to be a tall order to knock over heavyweights like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. Personally, I'm not very impressed-I don't see myself playing it for months together. Still, the game is fun-in a weird manner. It's an over-the-top experience Ragnarok fans will undoubtedly appreciate. 

Project Sylpheed

I'm overjoyed at seeing a 32-inch LCD TV connected to our Xbox 360 for one of this month's games to play. Well, I move my focus from the setup to the game title-Project Sylpheed-a space combat arcade game. We haven't seen a game from this genre for a while now, so I feel a bit of excitement building up and some curiosity.

I pop in the disc and all of a sudden I'm in the middle of a good looking CG movie with anime-styled characters-something like Final Fantasy.  At the end of the cinematic, I decide to get the game going but I'm delayed by some more cut-scenes.

In the game, you play the role of one Katana Faraway, a pilot whose job it is to blow the enemy's ships and destroyers into kingdom come with your ship. To help you do this, you fly a small combat ship alongside your "comrades," who are of no use other than screaming at you and keep whining about your higher-ups. You can have your vehicle upgraded with all kinds of weapons from simple machine guns to lasers and lock-on missiles that make mincemeat out of enemies.

The game looks nice-it's cramped with colourful exhausts and weapon rounds from all kinds of ships and space vehicles. The environment is made up well-empty space with stars scattered all over, and an occasional planet. The on-screen display is filled with statistics and pointers meant to lead you to enemies. There are speed meters and a hundred gazillion other things. This is both messy and scary when you first sit down to play this.

The controls are a little difficult in the beginning. The lock-on missiles make everything very easy, though. You hold down a key and manoeuvre your ship so you have your enemy ship into the crosshairs till you get a lock-on. Let go of the key and the rockets will home into the ship, destroying it. The challenge comes in the form of numbers. The missions are quite long due to the masses of enemy ships. The entire gameplay is made up of you chasing one ship after the other-and that's it. This continues till a mission ends, after which certain weapons and achievements are unlocked. You can then add these to your ship before moving to the next mission.

Rating : 6/10
Developer : Game Arts
Publisher : Square Enix, Microsoft Game Studios
Distributor : Redington
Contact : xbox360@redington.co.in
Price : Rs 1895/-
Platform : Xbox 360 

The sounds of the ships are lacking considering it's an arcade game. There's some  fairly decent character voice acting, but the music is just plain cheesy.

The game gets repetitive, and you end up using the same set of weapons and the same strategies over and over. It can provide satisfactory entertainment if played once and once only. There is no multiplayer option either.

All said, it's good to have a space combat game around-something we PC gamers haven't had a chance to enjoy in a while-but then these games are best played on consoles or with a good game-pad, not a keyboard. Retro space-combat-lovers will find a fulfilling experience in Project Sylpheed. I can't call this game fun for everybody; it's not really deep, nor is it very interesting.

Nimish ChandiramaniNimish Chandiramani