Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 06/23/02 | Genre: Survival Horror
Let me begin by saying that this is the best GameCube game ever released and probably the best game for any system yet this year. It should change the horror genre much in the way that Half-Life changed the shooter genre. Gone are the clunky controls and the ì ran out of ammo, looks like I'll have to start the game overî oments. The controls are fluid, the story is exquisite, and this game will scare the heck out of you!
The game starts with Alexandra (Alex) Roivas being called to her grandfather's mansion in Rhode Island. He has been brutally murdered, and the police have found no clues. Fed up with the inept law enforcement, Alex decides to stay at the mansion and solve the mystery herself. She discovers that her grandfather was in possession of a book known as the Tome of Eternal Darkness. She also discovers that a race of bad mamma-jammas known as the Ancients--who have been plotting humanity's destruction for thousands of years. It's up to her and the eleven other playable characters (who range from a Roman General from 46 BC, a Spanish monk during the Inquisition, a World War I journalist, and many more) to stop them.
Each different playable character has weapons specific to their time period. Each one usually gets at least one melee and one missile weapon. The way combat is set up is very intuitive. By pressing the R button, an individual creature can be targeted. While still holding R, the control stick can be moved to target the creature's body, head, left arm, or right arm. Decapitate the creature and watch it stumble around trying to find you. These physical weapons aren't all there is to fight the Darkness, however. Eternal Darkness has a very good magick system set up. By finding runes, codices, and spell scrolls, different spells can be learned. These can be cast from the game's pause screen or five can be assigned to the four directions on the D-pad and the Y button.
Eternal Darkness has some pretty good visuals. Many reviews say that some things show that this game used to be an N64 game. Don't let those comments fool you. This game looks excellent. The lighting reflects off of surfaces and torches realistically light the way (sometimes torches are necessary). Spell effects send different colored lighting off of surfaces as well. There are some pretty gruesome effects and frightening enemies as well (The grandfather's murdered body is particularly gruesome. As the detective says: ì¯, we couldn't check dental records. We can't find his head.î©?
The graphics might not win any awards, but the sound should. Without a doubt (except maybe Medal of Honor: Frontline), Eternal Darkness has the best sound ever heard on a console. The voice-overs are very convincing, unlike another survival horror series that has the worst voice-acting ever (*cough* Resident Evil *cough*). Hook up the stereo sound, and shift nervously in your seat as the mansion in this game becomes the scariest location you've ever seen. Speaking of scary, there is one very original feature in this game. The sanity meter slowly goes down as your character sees more horrible monsters. As it decreases, your character begins to go crazy. This can range from hearing noises (such as footsteps or crying) to seeing things. At one point while playing, I walked up to my TV to kill a fly that had just landed on it. It wasn't a real fly! One of the sanity effects from the game make it so flies walk across the screen. Creepy indeed.
If you own a GameCube and can handle scary games, this is a must-have. It is legitimately scary, so it can't be recommended for the weak of heart. For all you horror fans out there (like me), turn out the lights, sit with your back to a big empty room or hallway, and watch out behind you. If you aren't careful, the darkness will take hold...