Dark Sector is a game clearly designed for console play (xbox 360) which means a few things: The graphics are good, simplified controls, and checkpoint style saving. The gameplay is actually very much like Resident Evil 5 & 6. The first thing you should do is make a modification to the games config file DS.cfg and insert the line below (if you have a 16:9 resolution monitor):
The game was messed up in converting to Windows and the 4x3 is actually 16:9. If you don’t make this change the screen resolution will stretch weirdly, and cut things off at the edges, unless you keep the resolution at 800x600.
The game’s story is not fully explained, kind of like starting to watch a movie halfway through. You play Hayden Tenno, some kind of international secret agent sent to the former Soviet country of Lasria to find and stop an evil guy (scientist?) named Mezner. Apparently Mezner is trying to spread a virus that converts people into mindless zombies and eventually mutates them into armored creatures. Unfortunately for you (or maybe fortunately) you get infected pretty early on and have access to a kind of drug that slows the infection while still keeping you from going insane like the other zombies. The virus still gives you powers though, such as a throwing glaive that pops up out of nowhere, and the ability to absorb the powers of some of the boss mutants you fight.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is very similar to the later Resident Evil games. For example it’s a third person “over the shoulder” view and the default movement is walking. You need to hold a sprint button to run, and hold a button to “prepare” your gun for firing. There are a number of weapons in the game which you can pick up from fallen (human) enemies but they all have an electronic device that disables the gun after about 15 seconds. That means you need to find another gun or stick to your personal pistol + glaive. The glaive is a large spiked throwing star (like the Predator throwing weapon in Alien vs. Predator) that you throw at enemies and flies back to your hand. It can be pretty powerful, killing most human enemies in one shot if you charge it up. It’s also used for various puzzle solving since it can pick up “elements” such as fire, lightning, and ice. Most of the puzzles are pretty obvious once you recognize what’s needed, but your first playthrough you might think you’re stuck a few times. The game doesn’t have a map or objective tracker so if you somehow get turned around, you might not know you’re going in the wrong direction.
Regarding the firearms in the game, you can actually buy permanent weapons from an underground black market arms dealer. These guns have no automatic disable lock and can be upgraded with “kits” that you find as collectibles throughout the game. These kits are one time use and do specific upgrades such as increase damage, fire speed, or clip size. You also find rubles (money) throughout the game and use it for your gun purchases. Bear in mind that both the rubles and the upgrade kits are limited. You will only get enough to buy 2-3 guns even if you know exactly where all the money is in the game. You’ll probably find more upgrade kits than you’ll ever use though (guns can only be upgraded a few times), just make sure you find the ones you want (damage and fire speed!). Side note here, the gun turrets that you can commandeer at various points in the game are practically useless. In most games when you jump on a mounted gun, you can kick some ♥♥♥ until you need to move on. I don’t know if it’s because the damage is low or if it’s just wildly inaccurate (old style iron sight), but when you’re using one of these turrets, it takes like 20 seconds of spraying to kill anything. When the enemies use it, they can kill you in a couple seconds if you don’t get to cover. And yes, I did try using short bursts instead of just holding down the fire button.
If you’ve tried the Free to play game Warframe, you may recognize the hero’s name Tenno and the design of the armored creature that he’s slowly transforming into. The same game developer created both games so you can kind of think of Warframe as the distant future of Dark Sector.
+Interesting glaive weapon is used throughout the entire game even though it doesn’t really get “stronger.” Not overpowered, and not too weak. The various elements can look pretty cool, like throwing a flaming glaive will catch your victims in a fiery explosion.
+I enjoy horror games with hordes of zombies and interesting boss mutants. The bosses have weaknesses that you need to learn and exploit. You can’t just fire all your bullets at them. There is no difficulty setting in the game, and it can get pretty challenging at certain portions near the end.
-This is one of those games which can give you a headache visually the first few times you play it. This may have something to do with the dark (almost black & white) game environment, and the slow movement speed (when you sprint, the environment kind of blurs a little around you).
-Despite the fact that you can pick up guns from dead guys, there really aren’t that many kinds of guns. And the limited money you have means you will probably need to save up for a while to buy the “best” gun. That means you’re stuck with pistol + glaive for most of the game. If you just buy the first guns available, you’ll be missing out.
-The game can be kind of buggy. If I alt+tab out, I have trouble getting back into the game window. There are a couple times you get into a power armor/walker and the button to exit doesn’t work. Not sure what’s going on there. Also, the game’s visual resolution setting I mentioned at the start really should have been fixed in a patch.
I would recommend a controller to play the game, except that when you’re using a gun, aim is very important and I have poor control using my xbox controller. Even with my mouse, I miss a lot when shooting at distant enemies. There is only one sniper rifle in the game, and it’s the only gun where your aim drifts around when you’re looking through the scope (for realism). I don’t know who thought that was a good idea. Overall though, I’d say give this game a try if you got it in one of the Bundle Stars bundles a few months back. It’s not horrible but there’s definitely room for improvement. The game takes about 7 hours to complete.