Today history came alive! And then I shot it!
I’d be a bold face liar if I said I hadn’t ever though about time traveling back to the days of ancient Rome with an assault rifle. Where my advanced weaponry would make me king. Darkest of Days finally let me live out this brief, sociopathic fantasy if but for a fleeting moment; and that is all that counts right?
Well, not really, but it is still kind of cool.
Darkest of Days is about an organization in the future that has developed time travel called Kronotek. Using this technology to primarily study the past, the organization does also, on occasion, recruit those who are near death in the past to “work” for the company. You are one of these people, having stood with Custer at his last stand and whisked away moments before you were overrun and would have been killed. Recruited for a specific purpose, you are quickly put to work. Someone seems to be going around mucking with the past and you need to make sure two people who were supposed to be in certain places and do certain things do what they were supposed to do. This will send you back to the Civil War and WWI (though some issues will force you to travel to WWII and Ancient Rome as well). Along the way you’ll fight a group known only as the opposition who seems to have very advanced armor and weaponry.
The first few levels in the Civil War and WWI are interesting for two reasons. The first is that they are mostly large, very open maps that allow you to traverse them in many different ways. It is sort of like a closed-open-world game in that respect. These levels are basically battlefields, and the battles that you are making your way through are actually pretty epic. There are a lot of NPC soldiers running around, and I mean a lot (the developers claim up to 300 on screen at a time and I believe it). There really is something about walking through a corn field and coming up to a Confederate firing line that is just cool. The “open-ness” of these levels leaves a lot to be desired actually, but the sheer size of the battles and the fact that WWI and The Civil War are two eras not often depicted in gaming really does make Darkest of Days stand out.
From there the game gets far more linear, and it really does seem like two completely different games. The game improves significantly after this point and the story line really starts to have some fun with the time-traveling aspect (such as having you go and place the bomb used to engineer your own escape from a German POW camp). The game’s drastic improvement about half-way through is great, though it does make the game seem like it had to very different directions during the development process.
The downside to Darkest of Days comes from two major sources. First is that the first few levels (the open world ones) start to get boring and repetitive. Even switching back and forth between WWI and The Civil War when you can just leaves a lot to be desired. The other main issue is that aesthetically, the game looks like an descent PS2 game.
Part of the reason for the blah graphics and poor voice acting comes from the game really being a budget title by a fairly small developer. The other reason most likely comes from the game engine built to have 300 characters on the screen at one time, and the limitations doing such a thing probably required. Can you ignore these things? Well, I could. I sort of thought about it like a B-movie, sure it doesn’t look the greatest but the story was fun.
That’s the real kicker; I actually had fun with Darkest of Days. It is very flawed with some dated graphics, lacking first act and dialogue that might make your ears bleed just a little, but the game’s story is really pretty fun and when it the game finally gets its’ act together it is a lot of fun. Keep your expectations low and you can have a good time with Darkest of Days, sort of like online dating. If nothing else the game is wroth a look just because it is a unique shooter and I haven’t seen much else like it.
Tomorrow I return to a classic franchise in Pilot Wings Resort.
Final Rating: 6/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: Approximately 7 hours.
Gamer Score Earned: 1000/1000
Price Bought at: $15
Current Price: $18.81 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $10 or under.
Why you should buy it: Fun story with some epic battles in a unique shooter.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Dated graphics and lack-luster first act.