Friday, 12 April 2013

A Light in the Dark

I'm slowly making my way through The Darklight Conflict, and it's not too bad so far. I had a bit of a worry at the beginning when the game crashed because of a missing image file, but I created a fake version of the file and it seemed to be happy with that. It's a much more arcadey offering than Independence War was. Where that had a full Newtonian physics model, this game has you turning on a sixpence and stopping as soon as you set your speed to zero. I have no problem with that; it gives the game a different feel. The structure is similar, though. You play a cog in a massive war machine (the gimmick here being that you're a human pilot plucked from your aeroplane and forced to fight for the aliens), and you're sent on various missions by your nameless commander. The missions are quite varied so far, but I have a feeling they're going to start cycling soon. There are your average 'go out and shoot the enemy' missions alongside 'protect the innocent (by shooting the enemy)' missions and 'gather fuel (while shooting the enemy)' missions. There are also my most hated missions where you are placed in a gun turret instead of a ship and have to shoot down invading aliens. The problem with this (realistic, I grant you) situation is that the gun turret has a limited turning circle, so you'll be happily tracking an alien across space, and then you'll hit the end of your range while he'll happily fly over and shoot you. Again, I understand that this might be realistic (as far as these things go), but it doesn't make it much fun. The rest of the game's all about dogfighting, out-manoeuvring your opponent and trying to get in the best position to strike the killing blow, whereas here it's just sit still and mindlessly fire away. You won't be surprised to hear that it's one of those missions I'm stuck on at the moment. Back to the missions - you're given a different ship and load-out depending on the mission, so on some you'll be in a nippy dogfighter, in others you'll be in a slow bomber, and in others you'll be in a tug with a traction beam. That traction beam's a funny thing, you use it to pick up fuel ore, space drones, etc., but it fires forwards like your standard weapons, and you can only fire it when the object comes within range. This means that when you're dragging something through space it's up close right in front of you, so you can't see a thing round it. It's like if lorries had the cab at the back behind the truck. Madness, and it doesn't help much when you've got to fly said object through teleporters or dock it next to the mothership. I've lost count of the number of times I've dragged some stupid cargo light years through space fending off hordes of alien scum along the way only to crash it into the loading bay at the end because I couldn't see what I was doing. Luckily, there's no lives as such, so you immediately start again on the same mission as soon as you die - the designers must have realised how easy and frustrating it was to fail a mission. Anyway, I'm enjoying blasting my way through it so far, with autosaving missions and infinite lives, progress has been gradual but inevitable, with a few speed bumps along the way for tricky missions. My only concern at the moment is that it's going to be quite long. I've done somewhere between 5 and 10 missions so far, I'd guess, but apparently there are around 50 in the game, so unless they introduce a bit more variety, I can see this one overstaying its welcome before too long.

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