Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gallery: Darkest of Days

It looks as if time traveling first-person shooters just may become the "new black" after all. With games such as Phantom EFX's soon to be released Darkest of Days for the Xbox 360 and PC, we could finally see some great use of time travel as a viable FPS plot device. Developed by 8monkey Labs, this single player shooter has you playing a soldier named Alexander Morris who gets yanked away from Custer's Last Stand by a "time agent" and sent on a sprawling time-travel adventure that involves some of the bloodiest battles throughout history. Morris' goal is to stop a bunch of ne'er do wells from the future from rewriting history with a bit of extreme prejudice of his own while saving the lives of a few folks trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Your stops on this time-bending mind-blower include Pompeii (complete with an active Mount Vesuvius), The Battle of Antietam, World Wars I (The Battle of Tannenberg) and II (a P.O.W. camp) and yes, Little Big Horn. In certain battles you'll be able to use future weapons against enemy forces, but the game isn't a straight up blast-fest with key-hunting and a dash to the exit. Wide open battlefields allow you to plan different strategies and you'll also need to keep your eyes peeled for highlighted soldiers or other people that need to be rescued from that time period. Shoot them by accident (or on purpose) and you'll be in for some serious repercussions.

As a huge fan of proprietary game engines, 8monkey's Marmoset Engine is pretty impressive, keeping things flowing (and blowing up) with ease. In addition to massive battles with hundreds of onscreen allies and enemies, in the PC version, NVIDIA's PhysX system will send bodies and and other destructible elements to their doom as stylishly as possible. It's nice to see more new dev teams cook up their own custom game engines rather than license Unreal 3 or other tech and slap it around for a bit while they try and get it to do what they want. Besides, Marmosets are cute... and we do like cute.

As mentioned above, for those of us who prefer plot and more depth in our game experiences, this is a single player romp only. There are no tacked on multiplayer modes, deathmatching or other yawn-fest hop & camp stuff here that usually end up taking away from the overall impact of a solid single player campaign. Hell, 8monkey Labs is a small dev team that deserves as much respect as possible for whipping up such a cool new engine and packing their game full of what looks to be memorable gameplay moments. I say to those naysayers who look at online modes BEFORE buying any game: at least TRY this one out before you turn your nose up. That would make you a bit of an elitist, and you don't really want to be called an elitist, do you?

Anyway, lets talk screenshots. You want screenshots? You got 'em:

Interestingly enough, in addition to GameStop, Amazon and other major retailers, publisher Phantom EFX is taking pre-orders for physical copies of the game at its web store, a move that just might put the game in more hands once enough folks know about it. That September 8 release date is right around the corner, so it looks as if we'll take a closer look at this one once it ships... unless a time agent happens to warp on by sooner with a full version, of course.

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