Those who had been PC gamers back in the mid to late 90′s would remember the good old days when first-person shooters were simpler and more frenetic than the more modern military-style duck-and-cover style of shooters. The last remnants of this once great empire were seen in the early to mid-2000′s with Quake Live and Doom 3, just as when the superpowers of the pioneers at id Software started to wane and Half-Life 2 by Valve moved the genre forward. It seems that nostalgia is starting to set in and some developers are now trying to recreate that old-school experience, although with mixed results.
Dark Raid is a first-person shooter developed by Turkish indie outfit Vector Games, combining old-school FPS gameplay feel with next-gen looks. Released around the same time as Wolfenstein: The New Order, this follows more of the old-school FPS standard that was popular back in the 90′s, wherein you are simply dropped into a level and given a weapon to eliminate all opposition while getting from point A to B.
You play as some sentient maintenance robot that must now fight its way out of something, and the rest of the details can be taken from cutscenes and dialogue that are as generic and contrived as they come. That’s par for course in most old-school FPS, but they can’t be skipped in this game and some are absolutely unnecessary, so it will get in your nerves after a while. There is also something quite worrying in this game that you’ll see in the multiplayer menu, wherein it says “BETA” on it. The game is not in beta right now, it has been fully released. This indicates that the game was rushed out the door and the developers weren’t able to do some last-minute housecleaning beforehand. This is merely the tip of the iceberg as you then get into the game and see just what this game has to offer, or lack thereof.
Right from the get go, this game gets it oh so wrong with how it starts you off. For the first 10-20 minutes of the game, you’ll have to find your way around, which is definitely not part of the old-school FPS. What those old games did was plop you in a level and get the shooting started as soon as possible, no looking around necessary. You then follow the trail of enemies throughout the level to know where to go, especially since there is no map to know where to go. The old Doom games and the first two Quake games are very good examples of this, which featured fast-paced action with little down time (id Software really knew what they were doing back then).
When you push a button that opens some door somewhere, you don’t get any cue that indicates where you should go. If this is the kind of level design they deliberately went for, then there’s no excuse to not provide a map, even if it’s something like that in Thief: The Dark Project that gives you a vague representation of where you currently are. That’s actually one of the many things that the infamous Daikatana got wrong, which made it one of the worst games ever made in history, and it certainly does not help the case for Dark Raid either.
Shooting the guns doesn’t feel like much at all, with simulated recoil in the animation but not in the actual feel of the game. Even looking down the sights is just a zoom-in without any animation at all, and it’s not even actually looking down the sights at all. Also, the way enemies respond to getting hit is that they don’t, as if they’re just a bullet sponges absorbing your shots without care until their health goes to zero. Even Quake from 1996 had enemies getting fazed and stunned when you shoot them, so this so-called old school FPS experience is getting it wrong in another department.
The old-school FPS era was when developers didn’t understand much of the need for rest and silence just yet, and they didn’t need it anyway. You’d usually get that when you’ve killed all the enemies in a level, which then let you explore freely if you wish as a subsequent reward. This was way before respawning enemies in modern military shooters that didn’t let you look around much. The problem with Dark Raid is that it mixes things up, thinking that it’s old school while mixing more modern concepts in to create a confused mix of shooting and looking around that keeps this from feeling right.
You only need to play this for an hour to be absolutely sick of it. It’s basically the same thing all the way through, and it does not do anything to redeem itself at all. There is a recent indie first-person shooter that you can buy right now with an old-school look and feel, but is actually good. It’s called Hard Reset, and it’s a way better game than this one.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 3/10