One of the great things about getting games to review on multiple systems is you can really see what separates the systems under the hood. Sure you can debate processors and all the equipment in the casing, but things don't really come into focus until they, well, er' come into focus, on the two different systems currently playing on my TV.
In Darkwatch, you play a genuine badass outlaw by the name of Jericho Cross. Jericho decides he is going to rob a train in order to steal its gold locked in the massive safe. Whoops, turns out it wasn't gold in the safe, but rather an incredibly powerful vampire named Lazarus who bites you as thanks. Well, never one to be anyone's slave, Jericho joins forces with the Darkwatch, a mysterious group that has been fighting the uncommon evils that have been around since the dawn of time, in order to prevent the eternal damnation of his soul, and oh yeah, save the West from Lazarus' evil intentions.
First-person shooters tend to play a bit better on the Xbox, as if HALO paved the way for what a game needs to do in order for it to work properly. Darkwatch is one of those games that took those lessons and applied it right. It is a dream to control. And it had better be, because Darkwatch is a game where the action never really slows up. The movement of Jericho is nice and tight and the targeting reticule dials in nicely. It does help that the game gives you a bit of a nudge with the auto-aim feature.
Graphically, the Xbox version honestly does look a tad bit better. Some of the cloudy effects seem to come across better as does the 'blood vision'? a sort of vampire night vision. I like the look of the various monsters and undead men and women that come after you with malicious intent. The game never bogs down from too much action and the whole visual ambience just looks right, in terms of the game's horror theme.
The classic western music can be found in the game as well as dark foreboding background music. And even though the voice acting is not too bad, it can be a bit heavy handed at times.
I said it in my other review the game sorely is lacking a strong plot and storyline. There are mini cut-scenes that direct the game down some sort of plot path that are entirely too brief, but basically its one action scene segueing into the next. Not bad for a strong action game, but leave your thinking cap on the couch.
Running amok in the 1870's Jericho Cross is known as an outlaw and thief. But a bit of misfortune befalls him and Jericho finds himself bitten by an ancient vampire known as Lazarus after inadvertently freeing him. Now, as his soul slowly becomes tainted with evil, Jericho must stop the monster he set free with the help from a shadowy organization called the Darkwatch. Saddle up your undead horse because it's time to play cowboys and demons.
For a first-person shooter on the PlayStation 2, Darkwatch is surprisingly easy to control. The game has an ease of control that makes running around blowing away the sinister forces of evil a real pleasure. The left analog stick is used to move your character and the right to aim. The game doesn't seem to bog down when the action starts up and believe you me the action comes at you fast and furious. I noticed that the game does help you out a bit and gives you a bit of an auto-aim assist.
The whole vampire-western thing is a relatively new idea, but long time owners of the PlayStation will also remember a similarly themed game called Silverload?. But still, the inventiveness of this title is one of its strongest points and part of that inventiveness is the addition of steam punk type devices and horror themed characters from that era. As a horror fan, it's neat to me to see undead Indian Braves running at me, tomahawks in hand, looking to dole out some pain. Even neater still is the re-imagining of western era weapons. Pistols have nasty looking blades in the hilt for melee attacks as well as rifles. This game certainly has its share of blood and guts and you will see every pint flow.
Being that you are slowly turning into a vampire, you slowly gain new attributes and powers. As a matter of fact, every once in a while in the game you will be presented with a situation where the game forces you to choose to do the good thing, or the evil thing. Depending on your choices, new powers will become available. It's a clever little idea that allows for some replay-ability for when you finally beat the game.
If there is one real weak part to the game, it's the forced plot. This game really needs a good storyline and a heavier tone and quite frankly, it doesn't happen. Not that Darkwatch isn't fun, because it is, but there will be many gamers out there that will feel a bit let down after completing it. Now in some games this would be ok, but High Moon Studios have really come up with a genuinely clever world here and at the end of the day, there are just too many questions left unanswered.