There are several boss battles in Dark Sector, and all of them are very different. Variety comes courtesy not only of bosses that differ wildly in shape and size, but also of the weapons and abilities that you'll need to defeat them. None of the bosses are overly challenging if you take your time with them because, with only a few exceptions, their attacks just aren't powerful enough to kill you with a single blow. They'll hurt you, and the borders of the screen will flash red to let you know that you're injured, but Hayden regains health so quickly that getting into cover briefly or even performing a few evasive rolls is generally all you need to do to get back to full strength. That's not to say that all of the boss battles are easy, though, because they're not. It's just that often the tricky part is figuring out how to beat them rather than actually doing it.
There's no health bar, but you know when Hayden's hurting.
Although playing through Dark Sector's single-player mode doesn't reward you with a great story, it's definitely a great way to prepare for the game's LAN-only multiplayer offerings. There are only two multiplayer modes, but both of them will afford you the opportunity to play as Hayden at some point, complete with all of the skills that he has at the end of the single-player game. Both of the multiplayer games, titled Epidemic and Infection, were originally designed for only 10 players on consoles but now support up to 32 on five maps that are no longer big enough. Epidemic pits two teams, each led by a Hayden, against one another in a battle to see which team can kill the other's leader first. Infection challenges one player, as Hayden, to kill as many of the other players as possible before they manage to bring him down. When you're not playing as Hayden, you assume the role of a garden-variety soldier armed only with a firearm, explosives, and the ability to move in and out of cover. One Hayden versus everybody else might not sound like a fair fight, but when used in conjunction with shield and stealth abilities, Hayden's glaive-and-firearm combo gives him a significant edge over the competition. With that said, playing as Hayden is much more challenging now that there's the potential for so many more players to come after you.
Neither the game types nor the maps really lend themselves to groups of less than a dozen or so players, so it's really unfortunate that there's no online play. However, bots can be used to make up the numbers in the likely event that you have less than 32 players on your LAN. Like the enemies in the single-player game, the bots generally exhibit intelligent behavior but occasionally slip up. Regardless, Dark Sector's multiplayer modes are a lot of fun even when you're playing as a soldier, and the biggest disappointment is simply that there aren't more modes or maps. A straight-up deathmatch option in which everyone has Hayden's abilities would probably be chaotic, but this seems like a missed opportunity regardless, as does the vehicle that you commandeer for a time in the single-player game but which is nowhere to be found in multiplayer.
Without online support the multiplayer modes are unlikely to see much action.
Dark Sector still manages to impress visually, though you'll occasionally stumble upon low-resolution textures while searching with a flashlight in darkened corners for pickups. Widescreen support is also less than perfect, considering that opting for any of the supported 16:10 or 16:9 resolutions crops off the top and bottom of the screen and slightly stretches what's left vertically. Furthermore, it's a little jarring in such a realistic-looking world that your glaive frequently travels through walls on its way back to you, but then this is a game that really tests your ability to suspend disbelief at every opportunity, given the nature of its puzzles and the lack of storyline. The game's audio is also worthy of note, thanks to an original score that does a great job of letting you know when danger is present or past. Likewise, some really satisfying sound effects make the weapons feel powerful, the environments feel creepy and abandoned, and some of the enemies far more intimidating than they deserve.
As much fun as Dark Sector is, this PC port isn't everything that it should have been. Bumping up the multiplayer count from 10 to 32 is all well and good, but the modes and the maps aren't designed with that many players in mind, and the lack of online is unforgivable. The PC version of Dark Sector should have been an opportunity for the underappreciated multiplayer modes from the console games to finally find an audience, but as it stands this is an inferior game that's fun only for as long as it takes you to reach and defeat the final boss in the single-player mode.
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