First-person shooters are easily amongst the most popular titles on any platform, but it’s a genre that’s running out of new ideas. Gamers have fought everything from aliens to zombies on battlefields ranging from Mars to World War II, meaning that being new and innovative is increasingly difficult for developers. Adding new twists to an existing idea is a popular route for development studios when dealing with this problem, and Darkest of Days attempts to do just that by putting players into the role of a Civil War soldier who travels through several different time periods to prevent history from being altered. Despite the odd-sounding premise, my interest was piqued. It was all downhill from there, though.
Playing through Darkest of Days is like being forced to watch some terrible remake of the old Jean-Claude Van Damme movie “Time Cop,” only this time around it makes even less sense. Wounded in the Battle of Little Big Horn, your character is about to be slaughtered by hordes of shamelessly stereotyped Native Americans. A portal opens out of thin air and a man wearing something that resembles a space suit pulls you through to safety. A short briefing explains who just saved you and why before sending you out on your first assignment, and off you go. At no point does your Civil War-era character ask any questions. He doesn’t seem amazed by electricity, laser rifles or time travel. In fact, he’s practically an expert the second he’s handed any weapons or equipment. There’s absolutely no reaction at all to being sucked hundreds of years into the future, a theme that persists throughout the entire game and causes any suspension of disbelief to be nearly impossible.
While the box promises that you’ll visit a variety of different time periods, the majority of the game takes place in only two. Regardless, the only major difference between each period is that the bad guys are wearing different uniforms. The same boring landscapes, terrible looking trees and muddy color scheme carries over to just about every level. The repetition becomes even more annoying when you get lost and everything starts looking the same, though a simple map can be brought up to show you the way at any time.
If the environments weren’t bad enough, the brain-dead enemies that they’re filled with should have you shaking your head in disgust before long. Enemy soldiers often fail to notice your presence, even when you’re standing right next to them as you take out their friends. Bad path finding sometimes causes trouble, and I noticed that allied soldiers were especially awful at keeping up with me. Poor hit detection means that attacks sometimes don’t register at all even when you’ve clearly hit someone, and melee attacks in particular suffered from this. Watching as you’re repeatedly shot while your rifle butt clips right through the enemy’s forehead without result is enough to make you throw your controller in frustration and only compounds the many other problems.
Even though it’s not a full-priced game, I’d still suggest waiting for the bargain bin on this one if you’re not just going to skip it completely. With the backlog of new releases I’ve got piling up, I don’t see any reason why your gaming time couldn’t be taken up by something more worth your while.
Title: Darkest of Days
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: M for Mature