Spec-Ops, the game that started the list of $9.99 budget priced games has a new game to relate to. DarkStone said to be the "crown jewel" of the budget list of games, is exactly... the opposite. Before I get to the review, let me refresh a few mind. Spec-Ops is undoubtly one of the worst videogames ever made, its sheer level of difficulty is what makes the game as bad as it is. Aside from that, the gameplay is tediously slow and it's nearly impossible to tell from which angle you are being shot. Not to mention the atrocious graphics that were easily some of the most lacking in detail. To be quite frank, I knew that the future $9.99 budget titles won't be any better, while some of them were, they were still below average. So here I have DarkStone, Take-Two's newest entry into the budget life, said to be the "crown jewel" of the list, this game is, but it really isn't.
Wow! First generation 3D visuals have never looked so good, I mean check out the detail in this game that would've looked good if it was released five years ago! Okay all sarcasm aside, it's pretty obvious that DarkStone is a terrible looking game, its got awry looking textures that look like paint-water was thrown over, and the background detail is some of the most lifeless I've seen in quite a long time. The character detail isn't any better, the models are far too blocky, and really make this game look worse than it already does. On the acknowledgement of the hideous textures, horrible backgrounds and terrible character detail, comes some pretty good lighting effects, and very classy CG sequences. If neither were present then I may have very well given DarkStone's visuals a good ol' 2.0. For a console that's over five years old and was able to push visuals like those found back in Metal Gear Solid or Syphon Filter in only its third generation, I would expect a lot more from DarkStone. I'm not looking for perfect 10 or high 9 visuals, instead something along the lines of a 6 or 7.
While it's better than pretty much every other budget title out there, that isn't exactly saying much. DarkStone is a hack n' slash RPG title that requires you to explore various dungeons, fighting off over 200 enemies throughout 32 levels. For the more patient gamer, DarkStone may be an enjoyable title, if you take your time keep your character fresh at all times. But for those who are more prone to a game like Final Fantasy, will be extremely turned off by this game's level of difficulty. I for one did not enjoy DarkStone because of its unresponsive control, I would hit the action button, and only later will the attack be carried out. By that time, whatever enemies around me have already had a chance to strike me once or twice, taking a lot of damage. Even though DarkStone's world evolves every time you beat it, chances are that you won't want to complete this game. I personally found DarkStone as just some extra cash in Take-Two's pocket. The ingredients such as 32 levels, dungeon hacking, spells, 8 different characters and an evolving world are all great, but the execution is far below average.
DarkStone's sound is the perfect demographic of what to expect from a budget game. The game features some voice acting during the CG, and while it's quite good, it doesn't do much for the sound. DarkStone features typical sound effects, footsteps, slashing noises, and etc. On the count of that, we also have some decent background music to keep the mood alive. I can't really complain about the sound as much as I can complain about this game in general, but there isn't nothing to 'hurray' about either.
To be as blunt as possible; DarkStone controls are poor. Moving around on screen is easy but the response timing during the action is horrible, and depending on who you're controlling, it could be even worse. This is crucial and many times when you are surrounded by enemies you can lose a quite a deal of energy, which just ups the frustration marker. The game allows you to control the camera's movement by using the right analog stick, and in case you are wondering, DarkStone does not have any sensitivity when using the left analog stick.
In all honesty to those who are thinking of checking DarkStone, don't rent it! Add the extra three or four bucks and buy it. Some may like DarkStone while others (like me) will not. Crappy visuals aside, DarkStone can be a good game if you put time and effort into building up your characters, fighting a great deal and buying new weapons, but chances are you won't do that, that is unless you have a lot of free time on your hands. Like I said, if you are thinking of renting DarkStone, just buy it, how cheap can you really be?