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Game Reviews & Afterthoughts

Eternal Darkness Review
After one of the longest developement times in history, this game is finally out.

 

Game Information
Name Eternal Darkness
Console GameCube
Developer Silicon Knights
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Action Adventure
Release Date June 24, 2002
# of Players 1
Peripherals Mem Card

Long has been the wait for Nintendo to make a mature themed game for its fans. 5 Years has gone by since the beginning of Eternal Darkness' developement. Originally it was slated to arrive on the Nintendo 64 and that would paint a pretty picture of just how long this game was in developement. Developement was very far on the N64 console, until it was cut off by Nintendo. The team at Silicon Knights had basically kept the same plans, layout and story for the game, but completely restarted on the graphics, music and voice acting for the GameCube version of the game. Eternal Darkness is truly a Nintendo game at heart in terms of developement times and delays. At first a the game looked to be released near the end of the N64 lifespan, than it was bumped to GameCube launch, than 3 months after launch and finally ED was released to the world on June 26, 2002, 8 months after the GameCube had launched in North America. All this waiting meant that fans anticipating the game had incredible expectations for it. This game symbolizes (for Nintendo) a new strategy toward older gamers and a lot of reputation lies on it.

 

The graphics in ED are really quite impressive given the fact that Silicon Knights has incorporated virtually no loading times while playing the game. In interviews and at E3, Denis Dyack of Silicon Knights had emphasized how the team actually had to create delay times when opening doors and moving into new rooms and areas. In early testing players could not react quick enough to the change, so a 1/4 second delay was added to make the transition seem more smooth, and it works very nicely. The environments are absolutely beautiful, with high resolution textures and bump mapping all over. Another thing graphic fanatics will drool over is the volumetric fog throughout the game. It is used in many areas and not only is the fog there, but it rolls along the floor creating a powerful atmosphere that accompanied with all the other fancy visuals, truly grabs the player and keeps them into the game.

 

 

 

 

Audio Sample
Track 1:
Track 2:

The music really is something special in Eternal Darkness. In fact it's so good, buying the soundtrack would be a worthwhile investment. The music is completely unique and perfectly placed to each area in the game. From Egyptian to Roman, and more, the 15 or so tracks of music in the game will make you just feel truly good. Grab a taste to the right and see for yourself! Eternal Darkness is also one of the first GameCube games to take full advantage of GameCube's Dolby Pro Logic II feature. With great music and a great system, players are in for a treat. The sound throughout the game is also top notch. Specifically the voice acting, which was done extremely well, stands out, just because it is so good. It would be interesting to see what Silicon Knights could come up with it they were to create a traditional RPG.

Learning Curve
Game Difficulty:
Medium
Game Length:
15 Hours

In Eternal Darkness players have the pleasure to take the rolls of 11 different characters. Nintendo advertises 12 playable characters, the 12th being you, the player. Why did they choose to advertise the game in this way? It is because the game is being labelled as a 'psychological thriller'. Make no mistake, Eternal Darkness is no Resident Evil clone. The gamer is the 12th playable character because the game actually 'plays' you. This is all based on the innovative insanity meter, something that is sure to be cloned in many games to come.

In ED each character has 3 gauges, magick, health and sanity. Each gauge is a different colour; magick for blue, health for red and sanity for green. As would be expected health is your health meter, magick is what you use to attack with besides physical attacks and insanity is this whole new feature that sets Eternal Darkness apart from other games. The big innovation here is that the more you kill enemies in the game, your insanity level goes up. Once it reaches a higher point reality starts to blur and the game plays tricks on you. Not only will fake enemies attack, but the game will go so far as to pretend to freeze up and get you to reboot it. Do not fall for this!! Anyways, without spoiling any more of the awesome insanity effects, all that can be said about them is that they are great fun and seeing them all is definitely worth the time to find them. On that note, at the start of the game you pick one of 3 paths, each with a colour. If you want your insanity bar to rise quickly, pick the green one and you'll be in for a fun time.

 

Extremely polished and beautiful. This game was in developement for many years, over five even. Originally it was planned to be released on the N64 and developement was so far along that the game had an actual release date for the system. Nintendo soon after pulled the plug on the N64 version and the game was completely redone and ported to GameCube. The story and characters remained the same, but the graphics engine, sound and music were all completely redone. It really shows in terms of polish, just how much care was taken in this port. Perhaps after so many years of development on the game, Silicon Knights just realized they had better port the thing properly or else all that past time would have been a waste. The end product turned out to be very impressive.

 

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John Palamarchuk ©2006
http://www.palamarchuk.com