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Critical Reception: High Moon/Capcom's  Darkwatch

Critical Reception: High Moon/Capcom's Darkwatch

August 17, 2005 | By Quang Hong, Simon Carless

August 17, 2005 | By Quang Hong, Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC

This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the new release of the High Moon Studios-developed, Capcom-published PlayStation 2 and Xbox first-person-shooter Darkwatch.

With a horror western twist to the typical first-person-shooter, and featuring a vampire cowboy protagonist, the PS2 version of Darkwatch scored a fairly positive average rating of 82% with the gaming press with the Xbox version scoring even higher at 85%, according to review aggregation site GameTab.

As far as first-person-shooters go, according to GameSpy's David Chapman, Darkwatch's gameplay "...isn't exactly dripping with originality. The controls are pretty straightforward: run, jump, shoot guns, throw dynamite -- that sort of thing. Jericho's arsenal of weapons will be instantly familiar to FPS fans as well." The relatively straightforward FPS gameplay, even if set in the wild and supernatural West, is definitely both a positive, reassuring force and a slight irritant to some reviewers. But in Chapman's case, it works out well, and GameSpy scored Darkwatch an equivalent of 90%, citing its "cool presentation and plot; smooth, action-packed gameplay; excellent multiplayer."

Scoring the game the lowest of the major review sites, with an equivalent 76% rating, IGN's Jeremy Dunham disagrees with Chapman as far as plot is concerned, commenting: "There are an awful lot of cutscenes and morality choices that make the whole thing up, but the ultimate conclusion isn't very surprising or rewarding and there's no real sense of closure for such a dialogue-heavy game." However, he agrees that the game's multiplayer is excellent, especially the Xbox version, which features Live capability and support for up to 16 players.

Conversely, GameSpot's Bob Colayco, who awarded the title a robust, though not spectacular 79% equivalent, praised the "crisp gameplay, an excellent presentation, and a varied campaign", but also suggested that, though it's "refreshing to have a shooter with a theme that isn't completely played out", aspects of the title including "a pedestrian multiplayer design and a brief campaign" hold Darkwatch back somewhat.

All in all, the reviewer consensus regarding what worked and what didn't in Darkwatch seems fragmented at best, but the title seems to have been universally rated as a solid, classy, but not completely groundbreaking console FPS, which may yet break through to notable sales through extensive print and TV advertising currently underway, courtesy of publisher Capcom.

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