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Western-themed and supernatural-tinged - surely a recipe for shooter success?

Darkwatch takes an appropriately scattergunned approach to its gaming influences. It doesn't quite know how it wants to play, so instead it plays a bit like everything. Setting itself out as a Western-themed, supernatural-tinged everything-fest, it predictably comes up short.

To its credit, it dispenses with all that namby-pamby tutorial stuff and decides not to insult your intelligence by assuming you've played a first-person shooter before. So instead the game begins in the thick of the action: playing as Jericho, you decide to have a crack at a riches-laden train before hot-footing it south of the border. Unfortunately for Jericho, the train is actually carrying Lazarus - an evil vampire lord bent on spreading his pointy-fanged love throughout the Wild West. To make matters even worse, Jericho is infected with whatever it is that makes vampires develop an infernal bloodlust. And so he must join the mysterious vamp-baiting Darkwatch in order to purge his soul and then rid his country of undead sorts, like the rather tasty Tala (below). Shame, eh?


Almost immediately it becomes clear that there are some glaring imbalances in Darkwatch's gameplay. After a few minutes, you'll find that you can conserve ammo simply by using your melee attack to take off an attacker's head - it's quick and a damn sight more effective than pumping bullet after bullet from your ineffective handgun into their skull.

But this is where that melting pot of influences almost comes good. Weapons are numerous and fairly enjoyable to use, but if you tire of those your new vamp abilities can be called upon. There are certain role-playing leanings here, as your actions can dictate what they'll be, but it's fairly superficial stuff. Your Halo-style Bloodshield offers more than enough protection, and there's even some rudimentary vehicle-based action later on.

Ultimately, though, this is quite a dull shooter which has tried hard to get you to love it. So hard, in fact, that it comes across as a bit of a desperate, dirty games tea-leaf.

The verdict

We've used words like reasonable' and 'fairly' a lot here, all of which marks this out as a thoroughly 'average' shooter.

PlayStation 2
Action, Adventure