Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Space, Flying and Space Flying

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 9 Feb 2010 16:00
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"Thank you for the hilarious review of Dark Void. We're big fans of Zero Punctuation here at Airtight Games, and we were thrilled (and a little scared) to see you review the game. We loved the review, though, and are particularly happy to have gotten the 'Zero Punctuation' treatment."
- Jeff Combos from Airtight Games, via email

No, thank you, Jeff Combos, for your mail, which I reprint here mainly because I like your surname. Tell me, have you ever considered making fighting games? Just a thought.

I love flying in games. Not only does it give me the invigorating sense of freedom that man has envied from the moment he first glanced up from his cave to see a flock of pterodactyls sweeping past, but it also instantly evolves gameplay into the third dimension. Flying combat is all about speed and quick evasion, rather than squatting behind a chest-high wall popping at something vaguely head-shaped poking out from behind a pillar.

But you know what's even better than flying? Dual gameplay balancing both flying and ground-based tactics. The flying becomes much more satisfying for me if there's something I can compare it to. I'm forever disappointed by most straight flight sims like HAWX or Crimson Skies because you always start the missions in the plane and up in the air, the terrain so small and distant you might as well be hovering over Legoland. I'm waiting for a game like Crimson Skies where you have to take off at the start, and if you see a nice green field somewhere, you can land, get out, stretch your legs, maybe have a bit of a picnic before returning to the dogfight.

This is what I liked about Dark Void, of course - anytime one-button switch-over between cover-based ground combat and rocketing off into the sky. I just wish Dark Void could have let me like it a bit faster; as mentioned in the review, you have to slog through a fair bit of generic cover-based shooting and a wee bit of platforming to unlock the full-flight jetpack which the game is allegedly about. Actually in all honesty there is a brief prologue flight mission, which I am 99 percent certain Jeff Combos and his friend Bill Roundhousekick must have added to the game after someone brought up this very same issue to them.

I'm not sure why flying works best for me when it's broken up with more mundane gameplay. Perhaps flying all the time just feels too special, like if you ate wedding cake for every meal of the day. More likely, though, it's the juxtaposition. That's also why I had a lot of fun with Prototype, Infamous and a lot of the Spider-Man games; you start off on the ground, walking slowly along with all the other plebs, the tall buildings looming over you in mockery of your tiny stature, random passers-by tripping you up and gobbing on your coat... and then BAM WOOSH YA-HA all the dirt-dwellers get to suck on your vapor trail. And then you smack into a building.

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