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Dark Void

By Anton Belev

  • Introduction
  • General Game Review
  • NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • DDD Tridef Ignition Findings
  • Conclusion


    Introduction


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    Dark Void is a new single player sci-fi action-adventure game that adds another perspective to your typical third-person shooter title. In addition to gun slinging and hand to hand combat, the game features aerial style fighting with the help of a jetpack. But wait! There is more! Even when you are on foot running through the game world, you can jump very high and fight enemies while hovering above them.

    All this creates a completely different experience than what you typically get form a third person shooter, or at least that was what everyone was expecting from Dark Void.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    While the game turned out to be quite good by offering something new and fun, most of the leading reviews gave Dark Void mediocre ratings. Why, you ask? The answer is simple! They forgot to play Dark Void in stereoscopic 3D!

    Yes, we all know that S-3D gaming is still very niche, but in the case of Dark Void, it’s required. Let’s find out why!



    General Game Review

    In Dark Void, you are a cargo pilot named Will Gray who crashes while passing over the Bermuda Triangle in the year 1938 during World War II. Without warning, you are transported to an unknown alien dimension called The Void. Your goal is to survive in this strange and hostile place, and get back to the normal world.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    You will join forces with a rebel human group called The Survivors in their struggle against an ancient and hostile race known as the Watchers (the alien enemy) who have enslaved the humans of the Void for as long as anyone can remember. While trying to discover a way to get back to your own dimension, you have to fight, fight and then fight some more. By the end, you will have done more than just trying to survive and find a way back home.

    At the beginning, you are thrown right in the middle of the action - you are in the air, flying with a jetpack and some friendly airplanes. The enemy attacks suddenly, and you have to fight for your life. This jump into action may surprise you, and you will probably have trouble controlling your character’s flight. While you’ll get the hang of it later in the game, Dark Void quickly transitions to the story line before you can figure everything out.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver
    Dark Void’s story isn’t all that deep, but the explanation of how and why everything is happening gets unraveled with time.

    As mentioned, your character named Will is a cargo pilot that is about to go on some sort of a delivery mission, and you are waiting for a courier named Ava to take along with you. It turns out that Ava is a former lover! While flying over the Bermuda Triangle, something weird happens (you see a flying saucer, wow!). Your plane crashes in an unknown place, and Ava and yourself are the sole survivors in a hostile jungle.

    There are some characters trying to help you, but without much luck because there are also robot-like enemies that are trying to kill you. As a game training exercise, you quickly arm yourself with a gun, get separated from Ava in the jungle, and fight through the jungle to meet up again in a local village.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    The basics of fighting are similar to most other third-person games, but you also have the option to hide behind covers and jump around them while moving and fighting with the enemy. Opponents are numerous, and are constantly coming at you. The aliens are not very hard to kill, and you will easily find new weapons and ammo along the way to help you fight your way through.

    The world around you is very detailed, and I would compare this to games like Tomb Raider. However, Dark Void is a little bit more action oriented with a lot of enemies you need to destroy, while Tomb Raider has more traps and puzzles to solve. While I would say that Dark Void begins as a cross between Tomb Raider and Call of Duty Modern Warfare, things quickly start to change.

    After you wander around the jungle, you will be introduced to a unique vertical movement system that shows the perspective of jumping down different platforms while dropping from very high places. Enemies also get introduced so the new vertical movement system gets even more interesting as you have to shoot enemies, cover from enemy fire, and climb down. Strange at first, you will quickly get the hang of it and it will become a lot of fun...especially when you add the feeling of depth that stereoscopic 3D gaming offers!


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver
    When you finally reach the village and meet with Ava, you will be introduced to an engineer named Nikola who gives you a jetpack (the jetpack finally is yours), and from here on things get even more interesting. The development of the story is not the strongest point of the game because you don’t get clear explanations as things are happening. Details will slowly emerge as you continue your adventure and talk to the characters.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    With the jetpack on your back, you can now climb up as well as down. Holding on to the bottom of a rock while trying to climb up, jumping from ledge to ledge, and trying to surprise the enemy can be very challenging at first. This camera angle also takes some getting used to. When you add the need for some quick reactions to unexpected shakes and trembles, game play just gets more and more elaborate.

    You also get bigger and badder guns that do more damage like dynamite, an alien grenade launcher, and more. You also have weapon lockers to equip and upgrade your weapons. Watch for glowing orbs to earn the required tech points to upgrade your weaponry.

    Similar to other titles, the further you progress, the stronger your enemies will become. I would have liked to see more enemy variety, though.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver
    You will eventually get your hands on another jetpack...a prototype that can not only hover, but fly as well. Did I mention that the jet pack has machine guns, too? If you think flying with the jetpack is easy, try hijacking one of the alien spacecrafts.

    One feature I didn’t like were the limited number of saves. The game only saves your progress at certain checkpoints, so if you die, you are back to square one. This is very annoying because you may have to pass through a lot of stuff several times before you progress. The game can also be very monotonous at times, and suddenly be packed with action soon after.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    Even with the variety of ways you can complete a task, you’ll just end up doing the same thing over and over. If you don’t die too often, you should be able to finish the game in eight to nine hours.

    The lack of a multiplayer mode (although Steam gave me some sort of multiplayer key?!) was a bit disappointing. I think it would have been a lot of fun to do some aerial dog fights with friends, so this is something that definitely should have been there.

    I know I mentioned Dark Void’s S-3D experience a few times now. Let me give you more details.



    NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    NVIDIA specs:
    Dell XPS M1730 Laptop
    Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2,5GHz
    2x 9800M GT (SLI)
    4GB RAM
    Windows 7 64-bit
    NVIDIA 196.21 Stereo Driver
    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Viewsonic VX2268WM Monitor

    NVIDIA provided a profile for the game Dark Void in their 3D Vision driver and rates the game as "Good" in stereoscopic 3D mode. This is fair. As recommended by NVIDIA, you will need to disable the Dynamic Shadows because they cause visual problems in S-3D mode. Other than that, I think Dark Void looks great with almost no serious issues.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver
    You can achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience. NVIDIA’s default setting is mostly depth-only. Some plants can stick out the screen, but just a bit when they are very close. You can increase this effect with NVIDIA’s advanced convergence setting. However, be careful to not overdo it as you can easily mess up the close-up scenes!

    Another plus is the crosshair is rendered in 3D, so it isn’t necessary to use NVIDIA’s cross-hair add-on.

    The added sense of depth really makes the game shine, especially when you are jumping up/down, hovering and flying with the jetpack. The world around you is also quite detailed and it looks simply great in S3D mode, very much like what you see in some of the best examples of games working well in stereo 3D mode like Tomb Raider for example.


    Video sample of Dark Void in stereoscopic 3D.

    NOTE: Visit the original YouTube page to view in stereoscopic 3D. Several S-3D viewing options are available.

    As shown above, one of my favorite S-3D sequences is when you are on a wrecked ship that is starting to fall apart piece by piece as it’s hanging vertically from a canyon. You have to climb to safety by jumping from platform to platform, while fighting enemies above you...with every second counting towards your survival or death. If you play it in 2D it will not be so spectacular, but in S-3D, it will seem as though your life truly hangs on a weak thread that is about to break.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver
    For some reason, Dark Void’s HUD is rendered deep into the scene rather than at screen depth. While functional, not everyone will be a fan of the doubled effect.

    If you have NVIDIA PhysX-capable hardware, you will benefit from much nicer explosions with lots of particles flying around, etc. It’s recommended to have a second GPU dedicated for this purpose for the best effect.

    In summary, Dark Void really shines when played with GeForce 3D Vision. Besides the Dynamic Shadows limitation, and the in-game menus being too doubled at times, the game looks and performs very well in stereoscopic 3D mode.



    iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings (by Neil Schneider)

    The iZ3D System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA GTX285
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    iZ3D drivers 1.10

    Unfortunately, we could not get Dark Void to run with the iZ3D 1.10 drivers because of some kind of injection error. The good news is a much improved driver is just around the corner. We will refer to the iZ3D findings as "TBA" for now.



    DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings (by Neil Schneider)

    The DDD System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA 285GTX
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    Tridef Experience 4.2 Package (with 2.5 Ignition drivers)

    In most respects, the DDD results are on par with NVIDIA’s GeForce 3D Vision solution. DDD’s default profile required an additional adjustment to correct the HUD, but other than that, the two solutions are very competitive.

    In the case of DDD, it’s misleading that you can keep the dynamic shadows left to "on" in the game because the driver forces this feature off in stereoscopic 3D mode.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    The only difference I could see between NVIDIA and DDD was the dynamic crosshair, and while there is a stereo setting in the game INI files, this had no impact on the DDD results.

    There are scenes where a dynamic crosshair would be helpful - like when shooting at targets from a great distance. While DDD’s dynamic crosshair works, it isn’t positioned as well as it is with other titles.

    For CAPCOM’s future reference, the difference in compatibility between the DDD and NVIDIA solutions was just a stone throw apart. I am hopeful that future S-3D support will be more agnostic for their benefit.



    Conclusion

    The bottom line is that Dark Void is really enjoyable, but if you don’t play it in stereoscopic 3D mode, you might get disappointed. The vertical movement and fighting along with the flying really shines when you have the added feeling of real depth in S-3D mode. It just won’t be as much fun otherwise.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.5

    While NVIDIA had the advantage of a developer relationship to help optimize the game, their results were only mildly better than DDD’s. It will be interesting to see what iZ3D’s results are like once their updated driver is available.

    Share your thoughts in our discussion forums, and sample more pictures in our Dark Void image gallery. The forum link also includes the DDD HUD fix described in the review.

    Game Play
    7/10

    Sound
    7/10

    Presentation
    8/10

    Immersive Nature
    8/10

    How Memorable Is This Game
    7/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
    7.5/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
    TBA

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness DDD
    7/10

    NVIDIA Overall Rating:
    7.41/10

    iZ3D Overall Rating:
    TBA

    DDD Overall Rating:
    7.33/10