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 Home -> Reviews -> Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days By: John "Award" Del Percio
September 18, 2009
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Developer :8Monkey Labs
Publisher :Phantom EFX
Release Date :September 8, 2009
Platform : PC, XBox 360
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

The Long Shot

Based on my early impressions I was initially planning to review this as a "budget" "indie" title with a weighted score. That is to say, not comparing it against the heavy-hitting games, and treating it as a lesser category. While that would likely have yielded a higher score, it would be an injustice to the game. As I learned more about the game I came to see it as closer to a big league title but with faults, than as a budget title that is better than average. Scored as a "weighted" budget game, it could have yielded a score in the eighties, but here it's down a few pegs when compared to the better funded productions. As a surprise to even myself, I've found that it whole heartedly deserves this score even against the heavier hitting titles. It lacks the polish of the big studio games to be sure, and the story is exceptionally thin. But that's to be expected, and graphics and physics models are far from the deciding factor for a game (a concept that id and Epic have recently forgotten despite being the former masters of that idea.) Once you look past the graphics what you find is a well paced enjoyable shooter that takes us to some locations rarely ever seen in the gaming world and presents us with some new ideas of what shooters can be. It's an exceptional showing for a first game, and with a lot more polish, I think it could become a long-lived franchise...there's plenty of story that can be filled in and if enough people don't ignore the game simply based on its flaws, there can hopefully be a sequel and a lot of refinement done. Heck, even Metal Gear started out with a fairly sad amount of story, and we all know how it's become an interactive movie with a cult history since then. This time around, expect an old-school shooter with some new environments, spanning the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and a cameo in Pompeii. At a full $50, though it's a good bit of fun, it probably shouldn't vie for your wallet's time if you're comparing it against the big budget games. It's not Halo 3, Half-Life 2, Crysis, Bioshock, Killzone 2, or the like. But that price will drop, no doubt, and when it hits that golden $30 price point or lower there's little reason not to buy it, especially if you're a fan of the story-less open field PC shooters of yesteryear. Darkest of Days is by no means lengthy, but it at least has some size and challenge to it. A game sweeping so many art styles and gun-play styles may have been a little more than a startup studio could handle all at once, but they came through it with only relatively minor scrapes. While many may complain that it's a great concept, but "studio x" could have done it better, that may be true, but "studio x" didn't do it at all, and 8Monkey did...and they didn't do half bad.

Rating

Personal Note

Graphics - Sound - Gameplay - Depth - Multiplayer  Reviewed by John Del Percio
GRAPHICS
66 %

Overall the graphics aren't all that great. From the puffy trees to the the corn and grass sprites and low resolution textures, they're pretty weak. The redeeming qualities in the graphics lie in the expansive draw distances out over the horizon while still rendering the marching soldiers at that range. Additionally the gun reload animations are great for such manual weapons, as are the smoke effects from the older weapons, namely the Springfield. The long plume of smoke that completely obscures your vision long after a shot strongly adds to the realism. The small trail of wispy smoke from the larger weapons is also a nice touch.

SOUND
73 %

While the voices aren't great, they're not Raven Squad Bad either. The music is forgettable, though I can't say it doesn't add to the atmosphere at all, and the environmental sound effects are generally unimportant. The gunfire from the weapons however is very articulate and detailed for the historical context as are the sounds of shots in the distance between a battle in a neighboring field or off in a distant bridge. Howitzer shells raining down in Prussia have the impact you'd expect. Overall the sound plays an important role, even if it's only some aspects of it.

GAMEPLAY
81 %

As with most independent games, the gameplay is what it's all about; production value rarely comes into play. Here, even if the mechanics are flawed in a number of ways, the environments, context, and setups for the battles more than make up for it. Going through these time periods and fighting the historical battles is very entertaining. Doing so with advanced modern weaponry is even more entertaining, and highly unique. The massive environment, when not inhibited by invisible walls, lends a great sense of historical realism to the game, in spite of its dull graphics.

DEPTH
56 %

The story is interesting and new, unfortunately it's barely tapped or expanded. The characters are thin and uninteresting, and though he grows on you as you play, your sidekick Dexter is annoying as anything in the beginning. If you've read the Raven Squad review, you may recall my statements about the words "Blow this pop stand" and other such cliches. Some people never learn... Additionally the gameplay, while fun, and environmentally interesting offers no great depth. It follows the Halo model of two weapons at a time (you can call it the Halo model, or the historical warfare model...whichever exists in your reality) and mostly involves shooting at people in rail fashion. No engaging complexity is to be found, though it doesn't need it if it's good at what it does.

MULTIPLAYER
0 %

N/A



I make it a habit not to read other reviews that may exist before mine. In the case of Darkest of Days, however, I broke that tradition and read a few others. I wasn't pleased with the game with my initial impressions and was curious if I was missing something. What I found was a huge difference ranging from scores at around 30% through 80%. It's worth noting that players are rating it far, far higher than most critics. In terms of the critics, a lot of that depends on your angle for reviewing it. If you're going to truly compare a game like this to top-budget titles, of course it's going to come out below them. By that same logic, Office Space is a bad movie because Star Wars is better. Boiling a game down to a number doesn't always tell you much of anything about the game. Even with my initial dissatisfaction with the game before realizing it definitely gets better I found those scores to be very inaccurate. I think it's hit or miss in the sense that many gamers and critics that are newer to gaming and accustomed to the "current gen" definition of a game may not understand or accept the more classic forms of gaming. Darkest of Days isn't particularly "next gen" or "current" in most ways, and is, as with many other smaller budgeted games very much retro, at least as far as PC gamers are concerned. But if old means "bad" why are Quake and Half-Life two of the most played games even today? Why do poker and black jack exist at all? And then we come back to Phantom EFX, and the circle is complete.

Overall Rating

 


 


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