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Quick review: The Darkness (Xbox 360)

When Deus Ex: Invisible War came out, I was pretty excited. I loved the original Deus Ex – it’s still one of my favourite games – and the prospect of a new game with better technology had my credit card twitching long before it came out.

And my god, did that game suck.

The game itself was fine, mostly, but what ruined it for me was the loading. It seemed that every time you walked through a door, there’d be an interminable loading screen before you could do the next bit. I reckon for every hour I spent playing the game, I spent 55 minutes watching loading screens. It was like a really good episode of, say, House stretched out to 37 hours because it cuts to an ad break every time Gregory blinks.

The Darkness is a bit like that.

Loading screens ruined the game for me. They are quite witty, but the novelty wears off after a while and you get into a rhythm like this:

  • Get assignment in subway station
  • Get train to other subway station
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Go up the stairs
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Realise you’ve gone to the wrong subway station and head back downstairs
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Get on a train to the other subway station
  • Swear at the loading screen
  • Go up the stairs
  • Swear at the loading screen

And so on.

I’ll cheerfully admit that I’m spoilt by games that have nailed the loading thing – Crackdown, Halo 2 – but surely today’s next-gen console technology means we don’t have to sit through this stuff until the end of a level? It’s particularly frustrating with The Darkness, because it’s based on atmosphere. Every time the loading screen kicks in and you unleash a volley of expletives about the developers, you’re out of the game.

It’s a real shame, because the rest of the game is largely great (despite some minor issues – the city streets are empty of non-player characters when the baddies aren’t around; the hell levels are a pain in the arse to navigate; the map’s useless and once you’ve killed bad guys there’s a lot of wandering around empty stages) and the darkness powers are hilarious and gory. Overall though – for me at least – it’s Invisible War all over again: a potentially great game that really got on my nerves.

Anyone got Resident Evil 4 on the Wii? Any cop?

5 replies on “Quick review: The Darkness (Xbox 360)”

>>but surely today’s next-gen console technology means we don’t have to sit through this stuff until the end of a level?

Actually no. Since the next-gen (or technically current-gen) stuff needs more memory then it takes longer to load. Also, in the case of the 360, since there is not a standard hard-disk then they cannot pre-cache levels as they could in the original xbox so it must load from the DVD. Having said that – Colin Mcrae games on the PS1 got progressively better with each iteration but took less time to load so mibbe it will get better.

So is it just a data-volume thing, so crackdown can constantly preload because it doesn’t have the level of detail you get in the darkness?

I think so. I did sound quite convincing though. ;-)

I think a lot of it is to do with textures. A lot of games use textures and a lot actually draw stuff. Crackdown and similar sandbox type games tend to be quite simplified textures compared to FPS type games as the level of detail doesn’t need to be as high close-up since you don’t really ever go close-up. I have to admit I know next to sod all about these things though.

I took Resident Evil 2 back to the shop because of the loading screens. They were so awful that I was actively avoiding doors, ladders, stairs, etc, which made the game impossible.

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