Darkwatch (PlayStation 2) Review

By Athanasios 17.07.2020

Review for Darkwatch on PlayStation 2

Count with your hands how many cowboy video games there have been released throughout history. You probably have fingers to spare… unless you've counted obscure oldies like Custer's Revenge (NSFW). Now, amongst those few, how many involve vampires? Exactly. Darkwatch, released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, is a Wild West shooter where your enemies, as well as your own darn self, are cursed blood-suckers. This was never a big success. In fact, its planned, half-made sequel was left to die, and the name Darkwatch simply faded into obscurity, with nostalgia being the only thing keeping it alive. Now, 15 years after its creation, it's time to buckle up and sharpen those fangs, to see if it's worth a look by you many retro-loving gamers out there.

Aesthetically, this looks like something designed by a teen metalhead/b-list horror lover/cowboy nerd… and that's actually a compliment. There are undead gunslingers, leather-clad cowgirls and sexy, Native American, femme fatales, flying banshees with daring décolleté, and, finally, murky crypts, gothic dungeons, and moonlit graveyards and ghost towns. Equally - and pleasantly - comic book-ish, is the story, which follows Jericho Cross; a train-robber who, while on his latest heist, got more than he bargained for. Unbeknownst to him, his target is actually a meat wagon which carries lethal, undead cargo, which he accidentally sets free.

Screenshot for Darkwatch on PlayStation 2

After releasing the evil, super-vampire of this tale, Jericho is cursed with vampirism himself, and becomes an unwilling agent of the supernatural police of the west, 'Darkwatch.' From there on, he will have to shoot his way towards the finale; a finale which can be altered via a simple, two-way moral system, with clear good and bad choices, like, for example, drinking a human dry, or saving him or her (usually her) by draining the vampiric curse from their body. Besides the two available endings, this system also opens up one amongst the two ability trees, with all kinds of magic tricks, like temporary increased power or durability, lighting sparks flying from your hands, and more.

Helpful as these vampire powers are, this is mostly about gunning down the opposition. Compared to other console first-person shooters of that era, this is certainly one of the better ones - but it's definitely not Halo. In other words, while not bad, it's far from a finely-tuned product either. For starters, aiming tends to be more annoying than hard, due to enemies that - suddenly - move a bit too much, a somewhat unhelpful crosshair that's confusingly large, controls that could spend more time in the over, and, more importantly, a tiny FOV that's… atrocious, to be completely honest. Again, nothing game-breaking, but nothing great either.

Screenshot for Darkwatch on PlayStation 2

So, you've managed to persevere, and get the hang of how this plays. Darkwatch will prove to be an enjoyable ride despite its issues. Shooting your guns, which range from revolvers and shotguns, to crossbows and sniper rifles, feels great; the gothic/wild west mix at hand isn't as impressive as it could be, but it is indeed neat; levels are simple in design and in terms of the scenarios they provide, but they also have the right length and amount of challenge (with additional difficulty options available); and, finally, there's a split-screen co-op mode that lets a second player join in the fun. Sadly, the fun factor tends to decrease the longer you play this…

Screenshot for Darkwatch on PlayStation 2

Not only is the enemy selection painfully limited, not only the game rarely mixes them in the same room, but it doesn't even use most of them as much as it should. Long story short, after shooting down 100 or more of the sickle-wielding zombies, which are the cannon fodder of Darkwatch, repetition will soon kick in. The enemy spawning formula is literally, 10 of those, a few projectile-spewing, flying banshees, the occasional undead gunslinger… and that's about it. It doesn't help that enemies tend to respawn until you complete a certain objective, something that makes things more aggravating than challenging. Or fun.

Once in a while you get to play a level where you ride your trusty undead steed, shooting down enemies without caring about ammo, a segment that's a nice, arcade-y break. There's also a buggy ride section… which, thankfully, doesn't last very long, because it's probably the worst part of the game. In the end, however, there's not much to do here. Darkwatch is an… well, okay rental. If it weren't for its unique, pleasantly b-movie-ish setting, this wouldn't be remembered even by those who played it when they were young. It's nice, but not exactly a must have for your PS2 collection. TimeSplitters is probably a bigger recommendation.

Screenshot for Darkwatch on PlayStation 2

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

One can easily find at least 10 better console shooters than Darkwatch nowadays. Due to its unapologetically comic book-esque, vampires 'n' cowboys setting, it does indeed scratch that campy, b-list horror itch, and makes tolerating some of the game's flaws a bit easier, but as a whole there's little reason to try it out, unless an avid fun of all things PS2.

Developer

High Moon Studios

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
jesusraz, Ofisil, RudyC3

There are 3 members online at the moment.