Author Topic: Eternal Darkness  (Read 3508 times)

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Offline Christberg

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Eternal Darkness
« on: February 10, 2003, 09:06:35 AM »
(Shackreviews repost)

So I'm just about done, and I finally feel qualified enough to write a review of this game. It's going to be a bit long, but it should be pretty informative, so read on...

Gameplay: 10
Silicon Knights has spent 4 years developing Eternal Darkness, and from a gameplay standpoint, it sure shows. Everything from the insanity effects to the magic and combat systems to the story are just dripping with the infamous "Nintendo polish". This game not only has a creepy atmosphere and a great storyline, but above all that, it's just FUN to play and sucks you in immediately. Some things worthy of note: The combat system is great. Most of the time you'll find yourself favoring melee weapons, as a lot of the ranged ones are not so effective, except against certain types of enemies. You didn't REALLY think that it should be a picnic to take down an undead horror with a crossbow, did you? You have to get down and dirty and dismember those bad boys!
Of course, later on when you get things like an assault rifle, a shotgun, and an elephant gun all that changes and you find yourself managing ammunition more. but about 70-80% of this game you'll use some kind of sword or mace.
And surprisingly, despite having only a targeting system adding depth to it... it's still quite satisfying, and between this and the spells, the game is just engrossing enough from a depth standpoint to be great and not too much to lose your attention. Perfect.
Magic is a really well thought out addition to this game, allowing you to either scour the levels for scrolls, or spend time experimenting to find them yourself. Pretty much every spell in this game is quite useful, and the "4 alignments with power words" system is intuitive and actually fits well into the mythos that they create.
Well worthy of mention is the sanity system, which sounds like a silly gimmick: it's not. It fits the type of game this is perfectly, adds an interesting element to the gameplay, and for the most part does it's job quite well of surprising the player. The only minor point off for this is that the "big deusy" sanity effects don't happen until you leave the room. Granted, they're all pretty funny, and in the same room you'll be treated to bleeding walls, auditory hallucinations, etc., but you have to actually LEAVE A ROOM before the really scary stuff happens. I can understand why they didn't include this, as it would make the game much harder, but it'd still be great if they made them trigger simply based on the meter for everything.
Another thing of note:The puzzles make sense for a change and actually fit into the story... imagine that!
And of course the story. You'll find this review completely spoiler free, but once again, the story is one of the best I've experienced in a videogame... ever. If you love HP Lovecraft (like me) you'll enjoy it while getting a kick out of some of the obvious references to his work. One example is the words "cyclopean city", or the fact that the mansion is in Rhode Island. Awesome.

The graphics in this game are great. As mentioned in other reviews, some of the earlier levels are a bit bland, but the further in you get, the more impressive they become. The character models look great when you're running around the map, but higher LOD models would have been nice for the cutscenes, as you can see the poly seams in some of them and the characters look a little blocky. The level engine, however, is spectacular for the most part, and really shows some serious muscle later on in the game when they REALLY crank up the detail. Edward Roivas' level in particular is absolutely beautiful at points. It's a bit weak for outdoor areas, but not horribly so. Still pretty convincing even there.

The sound in this game is PERFECT. Absolutely flawlessly synced, actually emotional sounding voice acting, great panning, great weapon sounds, and just an overall well mixed experience with punchy, crisp sounds makes for one of the best audial experiences a videogame has to offer. The monsters could have a bit wider range of sound, but it's not really something you notice and that's really just nitpicking in the grand scheme of things.

While not as long as Silicon Knights proprietor Dennis Dyack made it out to be, Eternal Darkness is still a bit longer than the average videogame. Maybe 20 hours or so the first time through, including reloads. Still, there's 3 different paths with 3 different endings, and a 4th cinema for those who choose to go through all 3 paths. All in all, you'll find yourself wanting to replay this game at least a couple of times, as the overall length really belies it's size: The actual map area is probably around 3 times that of Resident Evil.

Conclusions: All in all, Eternal Darkness is probably the best Gamecube game you can buy, with Super Smash Brothers arguably either keeping up with it or being a little behind depending on your preferences. Silicon Knights is back in the game scene, kicking ass, and taking numbers.
Of course, it's really disappointing that a lot of people might compare this to Resident Evil, as it really owes a lot more to games like Legend of Zelda and the Soul Reaver games than anything.
Overall, if you own a Gamecube, I'd say that there's absolutely NO reason to not own this, unless you're 10, and then you probably would hate this. It's just too adult for little kids. Period.

Buy if:
You've been looking for a AAA Gamecube title since Pikmin. Here it is. RUN to your nearest store if you're an HP Lovecraft fan, and absolutely, positively buy it if you hated Resident Evil because of it's controls and item management issues. Definitely pick this up if you're looking for a genuinely "Mature" game because this is a great example of just that.

Rent if:
You're not sure you jive with the story, or you think some of the effects might be a little gimmicky. It's beatable one time through in a renting though, so if you like it, just save it to your memory card and go get it. There won't be a better game until August. Granted, there's a couple of pretty good ones- Smuggler's Run and UFC Throwdown both look pretty good.

Don't buy if:
You're a younger person, or don't like adventure type games with a lot of depth. Despite being nowhere near the length of games like Morrowind, this game isn't really for people looking for an instant gratification gory beat stuff up kind of game, although there's a lot of that in here. It's just too all over the place, too long and not predictable enough for that.

Overall rating:9.6
In conclusion, this game screams "buy me" to anyone looking for a "mature" Gamecube title and anyone looking for that AAA title that hasn't peeped up since last December. It's about damn time, Nintendo.