Dark Sector

Listen to the starry-eyed producers who haunt gigs like the Game Developers Conference, and you'd think the industry is in its golden age. A boffo indie scene is flourishing. Brain-powered controllers are just around the corner. A few people think they can even game their way through this Darfur thing. All those ambitions make a perfectly average game like Dark Sector seem that much more dire: Isn't there a revolution going on?

Dark Sector casts you as, what else, a covert-ops guy sneaking around Eastern Europe. A virus is turning people into zombies and aliens, who fight as well as Gap mannequins and lurk around maps that feel like first-year DigiPen homework assignments. Dark Sector's one big idea is a boomerang-like circular blade that grows out of the protagonist's infected, metallic arm, making him a mash-up of Captain America's Winter Soldier and the protagonist of Krull—but the basic moves will ring bells for anyone who's played The Legend Of Zelda. And the poor storytelling doesn't hurt the game as much as the tedium, and the feeling that the game is padded by five or six hours—which suggests that the real draw isn't dismemberment, but distraction.

Beyond the game: Far overshadowing the game is the comic book, Dark Sector Zero, which features surreal, caustic art by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz. It would be less of a bummer to hear that he'd gone into dog portraiture.

Worth playing for: A few new abilities—a shield, invisibility—refresh the game as it goes along, but the gamers who stick with Dark Sector will do it to rack up achievements like the "Double Decap Latte," for beheading two enemies in one shot.

Frustration sets in when: During the boss fights, the game has a nasty habit of hitting you with lethal, out-of-nowhere surprise attacks that'll force you to restart the fight a couple of times before you even figure out what hit you.

Final judgment: The bland comfort food of high-def shooters.

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