Darklight Conflict is a sci-fi blaster that will please those who demand simple controls, beautiful graphics and plenty of enemies to shoot at. If you are looking for a game to take the place of TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM, this is not it. Even those who enjoyed Wing Commander IV or Privateer 2: The Darkening may want to keep this ship docked in the hangar, because an engaging story is nowhere to be found. Also puzzling are the lack of cinematic cut-scenes, stirring voiceovers or a rousing orchestral soundtrack -- all pretty much standard features in the genre.
Before you brace yourself for the great beyond, you'll have to first read your orders on the screen. That's right, read! No voiceovers or video clips, just text. Another strange thing is you can't outfit the ship with a wide variety of weapon combinations, taking away from some of the strategy. Of course, this won't bother those wanting to jump right in on the action, as the game is closer to an arcade experience than a true simulation. Flying is also kept simple. Other than steering with either the joystick or arrow keys, firing your two weapons and setting your speed, there's not much else to worry about. You can't issue commands to your wingmen, program specific targets, or even set the amount of energy devoted to weapons or shields.
Speaking of shields, you'll have to first hold down the spacebar in order to activate them. It's strange when you're in the middle of a fight to think about pressing a key for protection, especially since you can still fire your standard cannons while they are activated. Use of your shields does wear out your ship's energy, however, so it's best to save them for whenever the enemy fires heat-seeking missiles.
The missions start off simple, with training lessons to get you accustomed to piloting your ship, and then you'll soon be blasting away at swarms of enemy fighters. You can switch between three primary views during flight: cockpit, behind the ship, or an external diagonal view. If you die, there aren't any branching missions, so it's back to the drawing board until you complete your objective.
Unfortunately, there's not much else to keep single players occupied after flying the missions: you can't save your score, kill statistics or pilot records. While LAN support helps extend the replay value somewhat, there's not much to it. Up to six players just fly around trying to blast each other to particle dust -- there aren't any cooperative missions to go through, there's only one arena, and you can't play over the Internet.
Had Darklight Conflict included Internet support, a dynamic mission campaign, as well as a variety of game modes to bolster its multiplayer aspect, the title would have rated higher. Darklight Conflict is still worth your time if you want something to keep you busy until the next LucasArts or Wing Commander title comes out, but there are too many missing ingredients to satisfy most space vets.
Graphics: The graphics are arguably the best part of the game. Special effects such as light-sourcing and lens flares along with a crisp SVGA display makes you feel like you're in space. Debris will also fly by and realistically damage your ship if you run into it. Great explosions!
Sound: The music won't stir your blood with excitement, but it fits the action well. While the sound effects help draw you into the game, voiceovers and radio chatter would have been welcome.
Enjoyment: The enemy doesn't have the brightest pilots in the galaxy, often preferring to fly straight toward your ship instead of attacking from behind. Yet the missions are plentiful, the graphics appealing, and the controls easy to grasp. More features and an exciting story would have helped the score in this area.
Replay Value: The game can be played over a LAN, but the single player missions are straightforward: you either succeed or fail. Internet support and multiplayer missions should have been included.
A space combat game like Wing Commander; you control space ship, as the lone man trying to save humanity from not one, but two alien races. It also has multiplayer modes like Race and Tag for IPX network users.
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