And this pretty much sums up the Dark Sector experience. Everything seems designed for the initial impression, with little attention given to anything below the surface. The graphics look lovely at first, but soon lose their lustre as you realise what a rigid, fake world they represent. Your brooding avatar, Hayden, is the weirdest looking action hero ever. His lank trendy hairdo and pale, squashed face often makes it look like you're playing some bizarre White Stripes shoot-'em-up. The glaive is fun for the first few chapters, but ultimately proves to be an underdeveloped gimmick that adds nothing more than a different way to kill things.
And as for the story... Oh my goodness. If there's a more incoherent narrative in gaming this year, I'll be amazed. It's abundantly clear that this is a game that spent so long in development that they forgot not everyone in the world would know the back-story of Hayden Tenno.
There's some femme fatale, and an old Russian guy, and a Rasputin villain, and some kind of underground psychic stuff and it's all introduced and explained in context-free cut-scenes full of earnest posturing and clichd dialogue. It's all so garbled that you won't understand, let alone care, who turns out to be a traitor, murderer or whatever.
There's multiplayer as well, but it's been implemented in such a half-hearted way that I'm struggling to muster the enthusiasm to talk about it in much detail. The main problem is that the online modes take the one element that everyone will want to muck about with - the glaive - then all but remove it from the equation. In both multiplayer game modes, Infection and Epidemic, only one person gets to play as Hayden, with all his attendant powers, while everybody else has to run around in stupid hazmat suits trying to earn the right to play with the fun toys.
The maps are dull, the inspiration minimal and the whole section feels like it was tacked on because some market research said that you have to have some multiplayer. The fact that most of the people I found online were blatant Achievement addicts boosting each other's scores by taking it in turns to win says all you need to know on this subject.
And so Dark Sector ends up as the sort of game I find most disheartening. Games that are crap from the start are easy to dissect and dismiss. Games that start off with promise but then wind up paddling round and round in the shallow end of the game design pool are incredibly frustrating.
This could have been fantastic - it should've been fantastic - yet by the end it barely scrapes in as above average. If you're desperate for something new to play, then rent this over the weekend and you'll have breezed through it by Monday, having been moderately distracted for most of the time. The glaive is fun, for a bit, so there's always that as well. Just don't be surprised if in six months time you've forgotten you ever played it.