Set in the crumbling infrastructure of a fictional Soviet-bloc country in the near future, the game features both single and multi-player action, with players working their way through a world where biological weapons are a hellish nightmare, let loose on an unsuspecting populace.
The game's main character is a man named Hayden Tenno (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum of Smallville fame), a morally ambivalent clean-up man employed by the CIA. He has congenital analgia (a real-life disorder) which renders him unable to feel pain. On a mission in a fictional former eastern bloc nation, he is exposed to a biological compound which mutates him, dramatically changing his right arm, and giving him the ability to grow a three-bladed throwable weapon called a glaive at will. As explained in Game Informer magazine, the glaive is a part of his body, can be used to generate light, and can be controlled remotely by the player.
Dark Sector was met with mixed reviews. Many critics compared it to Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War due to the similar style of play and story, yet it was praised for its visuals, originality of action and weapon-based gameplay.
In Dark Sector, the gameplay revolves around the use of the glaive. The glaive is a three-pronged boomerang-esque weapon which returns to Hayden after every throw. The glaive can be used for long-distance dismemberment, solving environmental puzzles, and picking up various items. When up close to an enemy, context-sensitive actions may appear, allowing the player to execute enemies with "finishers". Environmental puzzles in the game usually focus upon capturing various elements (fire, electricity, and ice) with the glaive. For example, a web that is blocking your path can be bypassed by capturing fire with the glaive and then launching it at the web to burn it down. The glaive is dual-wielded with a gun in Hayden's left hand. This allows for combos like stunning a shielded enemy at long-distance with the glaive and then shooting him while unprotected. As the game progresses, the glaive is given several new abilities; it can be guided through the air, being able to kill multiple enemies (This feature is controlled via the Sixaxis on the PlayStation 3 and by the right analog stick on the Xbox 360); a charged up throw for deadlier attacks, and is able to make the user invisible for a short period of time.
The gunplay is similar to that of Gears of War, Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space. The camera is positioned over the shoulder for third-person shooting, and the player can also take cover by standing next to an object such as a pillar or wall. While in cover, the player can pop out and fire, and also throw the glaive; however there is no blind fire. There is also a sprint function, which works similar to that of Gears of War. The game has no HUD (except for the ammo counter); Hayden's health is shown by the screen flashing red when he takes damage. If the player takes too much damage, the flashes will be faster, and a heartbeat will be heard, indicating Hayden is "bleeding out".
Money (rubles), ammo, weapon upgrades, and grenades can only be found in set locations, so they are impossible to farm. Downed enemies drop their guns, though after his infection, Hayden can only carry these weapons for a few seconds before they self-destruct. Permanent weapons can be purchased and upgraded in Black Markets, one small for his off-hand use with the glaive (replacing the pistol) and one large, such as a shotgun or rifle.
Dark Sector also has an online multiplayer aspect. There are only two modes (titled 'Infection' and 'Epidemic' respectively) and they feature: One randomly selected Hayden character in a deathmatch against many soldier characters. Another mode involves two Hayden characters on separate teams; with one team attempting to kill the opposing team's Hayden first. In both modes, Hayden will have superior powers compared to the soldiers. Hayden will be able to become invisible, use the glaive, etc. whereas the soldiers cannot. The developer of Dark Sector, Digital Extremes, has also developed the critically acclaimed Unreal Series, well-known for their frantic and robust multiplayer.
The game begins with Hayden, an American special forces agent, sent to a military-esque compound in the fictional Soviet nation of Lasria. He tries to back out of his mission before it has hardly begun, but his superior, communicating via radio, says that he is "past the point of no return." Hayden makes short work of all enemy resistance and finds himself face to face with his target, a fellow agent named Viktor, tied to a chair. Viktor is under the impression that Hayden is here to rescue him. He even tells him information to aid him on his way. Hayden swiftly puts a bullet right through his skull. After reporting that he has completed his mission, his superior decides to send him after Mezner, the man responsible for the Technocyte infection that has been ravaging the country of Lasria. Hayden proceeds through the compound; defeating several dozen more soldiers and even a helicopter, as well as planting C4 charges throughout the compound. Hayden then finds himself face-to-face with a seven foot tall metal creature of some sort (Nemesis). Hayden attempts to defeat the monster by way of firing an RPG at it, but the metallic figure stops the RPG mid-air and redirects it at Hayden. Hayden is forced to jump off a cliff to avoid the missile, and upon waking up, once again finds himself face to face with his target, this time laying on the ground as Mezner lectures him. As Hayden attempts to reach for his gun, Nemesis appears and stabs his right shoulder. Upon instruction from Mezner, it transfers the infection into Hayden via the wound. It appears that he was going to kill Hayden, but Hayden quickly detonates the C4 charges set earlier and manages to escape.
He then arrives at a radio station to contact his superior for further instructions, with his right arm's skin degenerated and exposed flesh. The superior is informed of the situation and tells Hayden to meet up with their sleeper agent, Yargo Mensik, to obtain boosters for the infection. Soon, he hears the footsteps of an enemy soldier and attempts to ambush him. The soldier quickly gets the upper hand and pins Hayden down. Hayden's infected arm then produces the Glaive, and slits the soldier's throat. Another soldier enters the shed and shouts that he has "found him!" over his radio, only to be brutally decapitated by the Glaive as Hayden throws it at him. Hayden continues along the coast, slowly gaining new abilities with the Glaive as the infection progresses and produces some kind of metal that eventually surrounds his right arm completely, encountering both soldiers, Haz-Mat soldiers in masks, and the infected (people infected with the virus and driven mad from pain.) Eventually Hayden encounters a massive, ape-like monster with flesh covered in the same type of metal as Hayden's infected arm. After a short conflict in which both Hayden and the creature come to a neutral standstill, the monster is called back by some sort of signal.
Hayden then makes his way further up the coast to a temporary military base set up in an abandoned pier. After fighting his way closer to the main building he overhears a Lasrian soldier calling for help on a radio as he is slowly driven insane by the infection. Hayden then delves into the basement area and after taking care of several infected makes his way to the roof. It is there he gains a new mutation ability and finally finds Yargo. He tells Hayden that his orders have been updated and gives him the booster to help slow the infection. Hayden refuses and asks about the new intel.
Yargo tells him that he and the Agency believe that Mezner wants to recapture the infected which Hayden released when he detonated the Lasrian military base. Mezner had retrieved an old transmitter which emits a signal that attracts Technocyte creatures to its location and concealed it within an old church. We also learn that Nadia, a woman Hayden knows, is also working for Mezner. Hayden moves on towards the church to destroy the transmitter all the while taking care of legions of both Lasrian soldiers and infected. Being infected himself Hayden is also attracted to the transmitter. On his way he fights a Jackal Tank and is knocked out after a fight with an agile, humanoid Technocyte creature. He wakes up at night and continues his mission. Eventually, he makes it into the church building where Hayden and the Colossus have one final showdown, after killing the Colossus he makes his way into the catacombs and finds the transmitter. Nadia, who has a deep- rooted hatred for Hayden after his last meeting with her, confronts him. She escapes and leaves him to fight his way through a swarm of infected and escape before the C4 he set goes off.
After making contact with his superior again he is told that Mezner has some infected on a ship and is trying to export the Technocyte virus to the rest of the world. After fighting and hijacking another tank Hayden pushes to the coast and hitches a ride on a helicopter to the ship. Fighting the crew, he makes it into the cargo hold and accidentally releases a highly evolved Technocyte monster which sinks the ship. Hayden escapes with his life but Yargo has been found and captured by the military.
Hayden rushes back to Yargo's place all the while killing huge amounts of infected and a large power-armoured soldier. He finds the place but Yargo has been moved to another location where Nadia is torturing him, demanding that he let her into "The Vault". His superior, seeing the horrible mess of things, contacts Hayden and tells him that he's coming to take over and to stand down. Hayden doesn't listen and goes to save Yargo anyway.
Making his way to the train station he fights through more evolved versions of the infected and even more Lasrian soldiers. He finds Yargo as well as the creature he let out of the ship. After killing it and mutating again he gets Yargo and attempts to use the booster, but Yargo tries to say something. Before Yargo can get the words out, Nemesis appears and forces them to split up. Hayden attempts to take Nemesis head on but he soon finds out he's still not strong enough to fight it. Mezner arrives and offers Hayden a chance to kill him, however Mezner has grown powerful enough to mentally control Technocyte infected victims, and begins to mentally overpower Hayden. In a last ditch effort, Hayden injects himself with the booster, which breaks Mezner's control while simultaneously preventing further mutations. Mezner tells him that he had the same booster and both he and Hayden were being prepared for the Technocyte's release. Hayden passes out and both the Nemesis and Mezner leave him for dead.
Hayden wakes up later with Yargo, who tells him that he laced the booster with Enferon, a chemical that kills the infected. He claims that he was worried that Hayden would turn out like Mezner because he had the same injections and the same infection, he also tells Hayden that he can get a suit similar to the Nemesis' in the same building; the Vosro Research Facility, where the Technocyte virus was made during the Cold War. Hayden saves Yargo by sending him through the ventilation system and makes his way down towards the labs where the other suit is kept. After killing hordes of Technocyte infested mutants and bypassing automated security systems, Hayden discovers the suit in an airtight chamber. He enters the room, shooting the lock as he goes so nothing can follow him inside. Just before he puts on the suit, Nadia arrives outside the door and Hayden pleads with her to leave before things get worse than they already are. She says that she's in too deep to get out now and that she is taking Yargo to open the vault.
Hayden gets the suit and slaughters his way through infected and non infected alike, taking down 3 powered armour soldiers and finally finding Nemesis. In the final showdown, Hayden kills the Nemesis and learns that it was actually Nadia all along. She apologises for infecting Hayden and tells him Mezner is planning a worldwide transmission to spread the Technocyte virus everywhere, Hayden says that he can't stop him because the organization is in the way. Nadia then tells him that she knows he'll "...do the right thing this time", leaves him with the key to the vault, and then dies. Hayden then hijacks another Jackal tank and kills everyone in his path on his way to the vault.
He arrives at the entrance of the vault to rendezvous his superior (His name is revealed to be "Dixon" as seen on his uniform), who says he has made a deal with Mezner and gives him a booster "for the road". Hayden is outraged and stabs him in the neck with the booster, and tells him that he "likes it" [the infection] and goes to destroy Mezner. He kills all of the men under his superior's command and then enters the vault. Once inside, Mezner tries to convince Hayden to join him. This doesn't work and Hayden goes deeper into the vault. He then finds the source of the Technocyte, or at least the first known source: the submarine that appeared off the coast of Lasria, only Hayden finds out that the submarine was actually American (Either by accident or on purpose, we don't know; it is implied that the American government knew all along). After the final showdown with Mezner, and the Technocyte Hydra-like monstrosity he controls, Yargo arrives to tell Hayden that the transmission is still going out. Hayden tries to fry the circuitry by using his glaive but before the dying Mezner, who is not quite dead yet attacks him one last time stunning his right arm, before telling him "You are one of us now". Hayden then catches the now electrified Glaive with his left hand and impales Mezner's skull with it. With the transmission finally halted, the game ends with Yargo saying "That was how it started, the irony of this disease, that in all the others it made evil, but for him it saved his soul".
- Hayden Tenno (Voiced by [Michael Rosenbaum) is the game's main protagonist and anti-hero. Infected by the Technocyte virus, he sets out to stop the virus from spreading across the world.
- Yargo Menshik (voiced by Jürgen Prochnow) is a "sleeper agent" and a scientist who knows the origin of the Technocyte virus.
- Robert Mezner (voiced by Dwight Schultz) is the game's main antagonist. Cruel and ruthless, he plans to expand and spread the virus around the world. He claims he wants to create a new utopia.
- Nadia Sudek (voiced by Julianne Buescher) is a woman who works along side Mezner. Hayden and Nadia apparently know one another, but their connection isn't dwelled upon. She later turns out to be Nemesis, a metallic creature with the same powerful abilities as Hayden's.
- Viktor Sudek is a minor agent captured by the Lasrian hazmat team. He becomes infected and is promptly killed by Hayden under orders to kill him by his superior.
- Dixon is Hayden's CIA superior. He gives Hayden's orders to guide him of out Lasria. However its later revealed he used Hayden for his own evil purposes and he later makes a twisted deal with Mezner. Hayden becomes enraged and kills Dixon.
- Colossus is a powerful creature from the infected virus. It appears to be a large powerful entity which can climb walls and utterly level a building in seconds. Hayden has a few encounters with this creature.
- Stalker is another powerful creature Hayden encounters. This one however is completely invisible and it only reveals itself when shot or frozen in place.
- The Blackmarket Dealer is an arms dealer who supplies weapons and equipment without the governors on them to Hayden for a number of Rubles. He hides in the Lasrian sewers all over the city.
The development of Dark Sector was announced February 11, 2000, on Digital Extremes' own website The game was originally proposed as a follow up to Digital Extremes and Epic Games' critically acclaimed multiplayer first-person shooter, Unreal Tournament. However, the original plan was scrapped and the game would not be spoken of for another four years, during which the game would undergo a massive change in focus (the original design had the game keeping in line with its predecessor as a multiplayer arena-style first-person shooter). An impressive in-game cinematic unveiled years later in 2004, gave viewers a brief look at potential storylines and environments, as well as the graphics of the game. Digital Extremes has specifically stated that the clips are not pre-rendered and are actual in-game footage. The game was shown as the first example of what a seventh-generation game would look like in-game. The game was originally intended to take place in a science-fiction environment, notably in outer space, with players taking the role of a character that inhabits a sleek mechanical suit with incredible powers. The game was officially revealed by Digital Extremes' in late 2005, the time around the original release of the Xbox 360. In 2006, major overhauls to the game were revealed, showing the main character, and a noticeably less sci-fi setting, although Hayden will start to resemble the originally planned main character as the infection takes over his body. The developers (according to the November 2006 Game Informerissue) cited a shift in focus by other gaming companies and publishers as the reason for the change to a more modern setting and reducing its sci-fi elements; adding they wanted to achieve the realism that fans would enjoy. Another reason was that the tech demo was originally built before the team found all the maximum specifications of the Xbox 360 itself. An interview with GameSpot has also revealed that the change in setting is intended to make the main character stand out more, as well as making the story more relatable which they say has been written as a superhero origin story. He added:
At the beginning of the game when we do the prologue he's just kind of this anti-hero kind of guy. And very simply, concretely in the game, there are certain types of barriers that he has to open with contextual stuff. And then when he changes, then he begins tearing those things off and becomes much more brutal. So what we're trying to do is convey that evolution on the inside, but also convey it on the outside so that those game elements that are around him are evolving as he does.
Dark Sector was based on Sector Engine, later changed to the Evolution Engine, both Digital Extremes' proprietary next-gen game engines. Official statements about this being just a name change or a major shift in their technology were not released to the public yet. Speculations about this engine being an evolution of the Pariah engine, a heavily modified Unreal Engine 2.5 were posted at UnrealWiki but were not confirmed by Digital Extremes. Dark Sector's project lead, Steve Sinclair, stated that the engine was written from scratch. The producer of Dark Sector, Dave Kudirka said when they first built the engine, they didn't want it to look like the Unreal Engine 3, and they wanted their own perspective engine. When asked about the games' engine being made on Wii or PC, he replied "plausible".
The game went gold on March 7 2008.
Initially a Windows version of Dark Sector was planned and was to be released on the same date as on consoles. But later it was dropped and there was no news on its release for a while. On January 19, 2009, some sites reported that a YouTube video was available, showing Dark Sector running on a PC. Later it was confirmed that the game was indeed ported to Windows and was on sale, though only in Russia and the language was Russian by default. After a while, hackers found ways to run the game in English. An English French version was added to Steam on March 24, 2009. The PC version's multiplayer mode is only available via Local Area Network play, as the game is a straight port of the console version with no extra code for internet connectivity.
When asked about a sequel in a 2008 GameSpot interview, Steven Sinclair stated that there was "nothing definitive" planned, but commented that he would "love to do one", and that Dark Sector only scratched the surface of the character and weapon's potential.
Digital Extremes has recently created a free-to-play title called Warframe, and is a spiritual successor to Dark Sector. This game borrows many names, similar models, and lore, but is set much farther in the future. The main protagonist faction is called the Tenno, possibly named after Dark Sector's Hayden Tenno. In Warframe, one may also acquire a glaive, which resembles Hayden Tenno's glaive. The Lotus Symbol is also a commonality between the two games. In it's first Open Beta anniversary, Hayden's armor (known ingame as Excalibur Proto-Armor) was made avaiable for 150 platinum for a week. It has never been confirmed by Digital Extremes that Warframe is a direct continuation of Dark Sector, but rather a spiritual successor or "new beginning".
So far, the game received mixed to positive reviews. It has scored an average 72% from Metacritic on 45 reviews. On GameRankings, the average ratio is 73%. Game Chronicles praised the game saying "..Dark Sector will have your adrenaline pumping like no other game currently can.." Other reviews include the San Francisco Chronicle who said "...Dark Sector is a chill thrill.." and gave it a 'Positive'. 360Syncgave the game a A-. IGN gave it a 7.7/10, Gamer.tv gave it a 7/10 and GamesRadar gave it a 7/10. XboxFocus gave the game a 3.5/5, citing the game's combat and weapons as fun, but criticizing its paper-thin plot, Game Informer magazine gave it a 7.5 out of 10, GameTrailers gave it a 7.3 out of 10, calling it "an interesting concept, but bases itself around too many games which came before it." PlayStation: The Official Magazine awarded the game a 4/5. |Hyper's Dirk Watch commends the game for "the Glaive and its aftertouch". However, he criticised it for its "patchy AI and steep difficulty curve".
Banning in Australia Edit
In February ahead of the retail launch in March 2008, the game was banned by the OFLC (The Office of Film and Literature Classification) for sale in Australia.
The sales and product manager for AFA Interactive (the local distributors of Dark Sector), Adam Zweck, told GameSpot AU that the game was banned due to its high impact violence, in particular the finishing moves the player can perform. "Obviously we're disappointed in it." "We feel there is justification for an appeal. However, we're exploring several avenues at the moment to see what we can do to get the game on Australian shelves."
The OFLC responded stating, "Dark Sector contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play." "The finishing movesand most violent game play includes decapitation, dismemberment of limbs accompanied by large blood spurts, neck breaking spurts, neck breaking twists and exploded bodies with post action twitching body parts. These moves are relatively easy to accomplish and once the player has mastered the moves and is able to get close to his foes, these violent moves can be executed," said the OFLC's ruling. "Successfully shooting an opponent results in the depiction of blood spray. When Hayden cuts off his opponent's limb with the glaive, large amounts of blood spray forth from the stump and the injured person screams in agony which increases the impact."
Dark Sector has been one the most recent games to be banned in Australia by the OFLC. However on July 22, 2009, the full version of Dark Sector was released on the coverdisc of PC Powerplay, an Australian PC gaming magazine, although this is the censored version of the game.