Eternal Darkness was one of
the most impressive games at E3 this year, and it was easily the highlight of the Nintendo
GameCube. Eternal Darkness features survival horror gameplay but manages to take it to the
next level. Undead baddies need to be disposed, and unlike the Resident evil series,
running away is not an option. Running away from enemies might save on the life bar, but
it will drive your terror meter off the charts. The only way to keep your characters
fear in check is to confront the wandering undead and annihilate them. If your terror
meter gets too high it can drive your character insane, which can prompt hallucinations
and even death. The hallucinations are woven into the story very well. You might enter
into a room and come across a disturbing scene. When you try to move and respond to that
scene, you find yourself warped back to when you entered the room, only this time
everything is back to normal.
Eternal Darkness will feature twelve playable characters. Each character is
from a different time period and must navigate a horror filled level of the corresponding
time period. Weapons and armor available to the character will reflect that time period.
Three characters were on display at E3 this year, including a shotgun packing babe
wandering in a present day mansion, a wonderfully designed Roman centurion who uses his
gladius to slice and dice undead, and a medieval knight complete with mace and axe.
Graphically speaking, Eternal Darkness is a marvel that features smooth
characters, stunning levels, and beautiful colors woven together to form an impressive
final product. A lot of thought obviously went into the level design and architectural
layout in order to remain historically accurate and give each level a unique vibrant feel.
Lighting effects are equally impressive and the dancing shadows add to the ambiance.
Characters react to sights and sounds, turning to face the fireplace when an ember pops,
or looking at an enemy who is just off screen. The clarity of the graphics is stunning,
allowing you to read documents left on tables or bookshelves simply by looking down at
The combat system also seemed to work very well. Weapons and tactics must be
altered depending on the environment. Some weapons, such as the knights axe, require
more room to swing and prove to be ill suited to small hallways. Different parts of the
monsters can be targeted for different effects by highlighting the area you wish to
strike. Chop off a zombie head and he still might be able to shred you with his claws, but
he wont be able to see where you are. You can also choose to immobilize an enemy by
whacking off various limbs and going in for the finishing move while they are lying prone.
As an added bonus, Eternal Darkness has no load times once the game is up and
running. Gone are the days of the slowly opening door or the long walk up the staircase
while the new level loads. Once the action starts, it doesnt stop until your
character is dead or your enemies are. Look for Eternal Darkness with the Gamecube launch
on November 5th 2001.