Take the side of the Reptons in a war against the Ovons in the spaceship shooter Darklight Conflict. From the training session to the actual missions, DC will keep you flying back for more.
You engage the enemy in more than 50 missions, from dogfights to strategic operations, in various attack ships like gunships and bombers. (Think Soviet Strike in space.) The action's brought to you in smooth, fast graphical splendor-excellent light-sourcing brings out nice detail on all the crafts, whether they're flying through a space portal or being blown to bits. The control is a bit twitchy at first, but is very solid once you get used to it. Sonically, the background music sets the mood with operatic space sounds and crisp explosions.
If you're fond of space shooters, DC is definitely worth a look.
- Point the green cone in the heads-up display straight ahead to locate your enemy.
- Keep your ship in the center of space portals to avoid damage.
Download Darklight Conflict
Darklight Conflict may look like a jazzed-up Wing Commander IV, but it's actually an eyecatching hybrid of old-school arcade shooters and modern sims. Although the more than 50 missions do dole out Wing Commander-style objectives, enemies still lurch out of the inky vacuum in waves-and often in patterns-so the game becomes repetitive fairly quickly. And the enemy Al is a joke. Opposing ships rarely respond to your attacks, often flying in random patterns. Their favorite tactic, in fact, is to jet in so close that you can't help but ram into 'em-not exactly a brilliant strategy. All you gotta do is pop on your afterburner and blast the bad guys from a safe distance. But while dispatching enemies is easy, some of the 50 missions are more frustrating than fun. A few have you protecting friendly bases that are too easy for enemies to destroy. Others stick you in a stationary turret and ramming these gun pods is apparently the bad guys' favorite hobby. The lack of analog control certainly doesn't help, either; you're forced to tap, tap, tap until you're on target. DC does look nice, with vibrant lighting effects similar to those in Psygnosis' forthcoming Colony Wars. But I don't care how good DC looks-when you're forced to repeat a tricky mission 50 times, it just ain't fun.
Although it isn't analog compatible, I like the 3-D feeling of free space that Darklight Conflict provided even with the regular PS pad. The arcade feel of DC makes it everything I wanted from regular space-flight sims. I like the no-frills action of the game and the graphics are incredible-a bit barren at times though. Plus, the voices sound cool.
Looking for mindless eye-candy? Here it is. Although the game looks better than its competition 0-e., Wing Commander IV). the repetitive gameplay and lack of a story line hurts. Sure the missions vary stage to stage, but you are basically doing the same thing over and over. A nice-looking package that lacks any depth a serious gamer would want.
To sum this game up quickly: The PC version is a whole lot better. Darklight Conflict is an ambitious 3-D space adventure that doesn't bother with the cheesy Mark Hamill movie segments. This game is entertaining, but the missions become too hard. Even worse, their difficulty is multiplied by the cumbersome game control (no analog support, either).
Jet jockeys will want to slip into the customized cockpits of Darklight Conflict, EA's sophisticated new space-combat game. Playing in 50 singleplayer missions or in Tag, Death Match, Cooperative (group vs. group), and Capture the Flag multiplayer modes, you must master an array of 15 weapons and cloaking devices as well as the language and customs of your alien wingmen. Graphically, EA's promising impressive lighting effects such as multilight sources and lens-flare effects. We'll see.
At first blush, Darklight Conflict looks like what X-wing vs. TIE Fighter should have been: gorgeous SVGA graphics, amazing light sourcing, and a deep-space feeling that so many games in this genre are just plain lacking. But like so many others, it comes up short. The bottom line is, it's tough to make a really good space conflict game these days that finds the right balance of gameplay, graphics, storyline, difficulty and replayability.
The main problem with Darklight Conflict is that it uses what would be the real physics of space combat. Initially this makes for a very impressive feeling for the awesome dimensions of space conflict and movement, but in short order turns to a nightmare of nearly impossible maneuvers within very exacting missions.
There is also the ridiculous premise of the game, but that hardly deserves examination -- suffice it to say that you are basically kidnapped from your career as a navy top gun to be fused, for some inexplicable reason, into an alien spacecraft where you then, for some equally inexplicable reason, gladly fight and die for your abductors.
In its favor, Darklight Conflict flat blows away the competition in terms of look and feel -- there was obviously a great deal of thought and effort put into the realism of this game, but it might have been better as a deep-space flight sim than an action game for the seeming lack of thought put into making this beauty playable.
In my X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter review I lambasted LucasArts for failing to build a decent single-player mission tree or storyline into their title, so I have to begin this time by saying that the mission structure is there in Darklight Conflict, ala the good old Wing Commander line. However, unlike Wing Commander where a raw novice got some decent training missions to build up his or her skills, in Darklight Conflict the training missions (should you survive them) cannot really prepare you for the bleak realities of the true combat missions.
In Wing Commander you really had a pretty good chance against the Kilrathi; if you flew decently and made intelligent combat decisions, you could progress. It was fun, because you could succeed and progress. Sure, the missions got harder and harder, as they should, but they were never so frustratingly impossible that you just wanted to quit and go play something fun.
In Darklight Conflict, while the graphics are everything that Wing Commander couldn't have been in 1993, it isn't all that much fun once you lose interest in the pretty way your ship blows up every time it gets nicked by an enemy shot. Yes, in real space, if your ship's hull is hit with a projectile it will most likely depressurize and kill you. I'll be extra careful to avoid that the next time I'm really in a spaceship in the middle of deep space combat. Back here in reality, though, I don't want to die quickly and repeatedly in any game unless I set the level of difficulty to Schwarzenegger on my own. Capice, game makers? Don't kill your players for the slightest mistake. It pisses us off.
Case in point: fly a flawless mission, take out a half-dozen enemies, avoid mines and asteroids, hit the jump points perfectly, and then twitch your joystick a fraction as you're triumphantly entering your carrier's docking bay and you'll be killed and have to repeat the entire mission (as soon as the game finishes telling you you're a failure). Fun.
The controls for Darklight Conflict are a bit klutzy as well, which makes the above scenario all the more likely to occur regularly. The problem: every joystick we tested this on had about a 1"x1" dead spot in the center, meaning that it was very easy to oversteer. It was like driving a car with the power steering on the fritz. That, and the documentation and control setup are both lacking in the ability to really get a useful configuration of your weapons set up. More often than not I just ended up using the default beam and missile weapons on my ship, as trying to figure out how to switch in combat was usually fatal.
In a word, wow. Darklight Conflict looks like something from the future, rather than the present. There really isn't a contender out there that looks like this. On a vanilla graphics system, it is gorgeously presented, with silently beautiful ships, the gleam of distant suns on every surface, and a smooth, perfect sense of movement and physics. You really owe it to yourself to see this game demoed, as it is amazing to look at. As I said, if this were a space flight sim it would win awards.
Nothing to mention here. In fact, the audio is eminently forgettable -- just a few swooshes and zaps, and the occasional computerized voice telling you to give it another go.
You know, you would think that most game makers, especially EA with the great success of its multiplayer sports titles, would know that the vast majority of gamers out there want to be able to play over modems and the Internet. In this case you would think wrong, though, as there is NO modem or Internet play supported in Darklight Conflict, only LAN support. True, they give you two identical CDs so that you and your office buddies can get a two-player game going for the price of a single copy of the game (which has bargain-binned to under $20 already), but how many people have ready access to a LAN? Very few. And it's really too bad for Darklight Conflict that there isn't any other method of play, because multiplayer is one area where both opponents are hampered by the same ultra-realism, resulting in a much more entertaining and fair battle than any you will face against the no-mistake computer pilots.
Required: MS-DOS 6.2 or greater, Pentium 60, VGA VESA 2.0-compliant graphics card, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive
Recommended: P-133 or better, 16-bit digital sound card.
Darklight Conflict comes up short because it has too many liabilities -- super-difficult gameplay, poorly-designed controls, the clunky old DOS environment, and a woeful lack of decent multiplayer options. Hopefully, the look of this game will impress other makers to the point where a truly great space combat sim can be born of the recent crop of near misses. As it is, Darklight Conflict isn't a bad deal for under $20, but it only rates a 68 out of 100 in terms of overall value and fun.
Snapshots and Media
- Colony Wars
- Colony Wars Red Sun
- Colony Wars Vengeance
- Wing Commander 3
- Wing Commander IV
- Wing Commander: Prophecy
- Bang! Gunship Elite
- Dark Void
- Homeworld: Cataclysm
- Jumpgate Evolution
- Mass Effect 2: Kasumi – Stolen Memory
- Sinistar Unleashed
- Star Trek: ConQuest Online
- Star Trek: Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates
- Starcraft 2 - Wings Of Liberty
- Tachyon: The Fringe