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Dark Void

Capcom shoots for the sky with this vertical shooter

Before Dark Void, developer Airtight Games was working on a very different style of shooter. It had originally planned a vehicular-combat title before one big idea came along and changed everything...

"Once we'd come up with the idea of making a vertical shooter, all our work had to be thrown out and we started from scratch," says lead designer Jose Perez.

The concept of 'verticality' comes from Airtight's belief that most 3D games aren't actually 3D. You move away and towards the camera, but rarely on more than one axis. By giving Will - the central character - a rocket pack, the developer wants you to battle enemies above and below, as well as in front and behind.

Sounds good, but the really clever bit is a unique cover-fire system that allows Will to cling underneath platforms and ledges. The platforms offer solid protection against enemies shooting down at you, but stick your head out for too long and there's a risk of being shot and knocked down.

There's a cliffhanger moment when you try to regain your grip by mashing the q button. It's not made clear why a rocket-powered hero would need to worry about falling, but hopefully this will be explained in due course.

Bermuda Triangle
Perez is tight-lipped about the storyline, but does reveal under pressure that Will is an average pilot who flies off course and ends up inside the Bermuda Triangle. This mysterious phenomenon is actually a gateway to the Void, a dimension ruled by an alien race known as the Watchers.

Apparently, in the early stages of the game, Will steals some Watcher technology to create a hover pack, and this can be upgraded into a full-blown rocket pack later in the adventure. Later on, Will achieves free flight and can soar around the huge open-ended maps in the vein of an aerial-combat game.

Enemy UFOs aren't just there to be shot down, they can also be hijacked and their superior weaponry used to deal with the game's gigantic boss creatures.

With Capcom Japan keeping a close eye on the game, plus over a year's development time remaining, it's hopeful that this title will gain all the polish it needs to be a huge hit.