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Video Game / darkSector

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darkSector is a Third-Person Shooter developed by Digital Extremes, and released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 25th, 2008, with a PC version following exactly a year later.

You play as Hayden Tenno, an operative for an unnamed American intelligence agency. He is sent to the fictional Soviet nation of Lasria to gather information on a mysterious epidemic. Of course Hayden has a Dark and Troubled Past, and is angsting about his current assignment, afraid of being infected or reliving his past misdeeds. Obviously, The Virus is on hand to give him superpowers (as viruses that infect the protagonist are prone to doing).

Gameplay revolves around Hayden using normal weapons and his infected powers to confront enemies: other infected and the Lasrian army trying to contain the infection. Hayden's most important (and gameplay impressive) power is the use of the Glaive, a sort of three pronged ninja star he can use to do pretty much anything Xena can do with her Chakram. Gameplay also includes taking over Lasrian military hardware and turning it against them and some minor physical puzzles that can be solved using Hayden's powers.

The original concept for darkSector was later reused for Digital Extreme's free-to-play sci-fi shooter, Warframe.

darkSector provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: The developers came clean about the game's plot; apparently, as they were editing the game down, the only people they had to run the plot past were already familiar with it, so the huge omissions (Hayden having congenital analgesia, explaining why he alone isn't driven mad by the infection; his history with Nadia; Nadia and Viktor being related; the Stalker being Yargo's daughter, who was infected in the first outbreak in the 80s, which is why he knows it's "very old" and why it doesn't kill him while waiting for Hayden; etc.) were never picked up on. Their previous game, Pariah, suffered from the exact same "accidentally left the plot on the cutting room floor" problems.
  • A.K.A.-47: An odd example; almost all the weapons are modeled after one weapon but named as if they're giving this treatment to a different weapon that would fill the same role, as if the names were settled on long before the models - and, interestingly, almost all of the fake names are based on Russian weapons in particular. Hayden's Heckler & Koch Mark 23 is called the "Tekna 9mm" after the SR-1 Vektor pistol, the "Vekesk Micro" is a Klin PP-9 named after the SR-2 Veresk submachine gun, the Hammer 1895 is a Webley Mark IV named after the Nagant Model 1895, and so on. Exceptions to the usual rule are the two shotguns, a cut-down Mossberg and a full-size H&K FABARM, which are both named after different variants of the Armsel Striker, and exceptions to the trope itself are the AKS-74U (mostly - the in-game name cuts off the last U, which is a different but still related and extremely similar weapon) and the RPG-7.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Your Glaive can lop limbs off enemies. This is more easily done with a Power Throw.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Trooper Gun, mostly by slowing you to a crawl. Also the magnum and sniper rifle; they both deal heavy damage but draw from an absolutely tiny pool of rare ammo and are relatively inaccurate, even with upgrades (the sniper rifle in particular due to Sniper Scope Sway).
  • BFG: The space-suited Lasrian Elites use the "Elite Trooper Gun," a massive multi-shot rocket launcher with an underslung pneumatic gatling gun. In game terms, this works out as "RPG-7 with shorter reloads and one of those godawfully inaccurate mounted guns stuck underneath," thus neatly removing the weaknesses of both the RPG (no backup weapon to safely deal with trash) and the mounted machine gun (piss-poor accuracy matters a lot less when you can just move the gun up close and personal).
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Mezner and the A.D., both acting as some combination of the Greater-Scope Villain and The Man Behind the Man. (Mezner has control of the active Technocyte infectees and plans on waking up ancient ones, the A.D. cuts a deal with him to keep doing his thing under Agency supervision.)
  • Boring, but Practical: The Vekesk Micro is about the best all-around gun in the game, using plentiful ammo with a huge stock and doing respectable damage. It's also a one-handed weapon, so it doesn't restrict use of the Glaive like the Korbov TK6, which is otherwise a straight upgrade no matter what weapon you used previously.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: Lasrian Elite Troopers are Giant Mook enemies inside bulletproof Powered Armor spacesuits, equipped with a combination minigun and rocket launcher. There are about 5 of them throughout the entire game.
  • CamelCase: The game's title is formatted as darkSector. This is also used throughout the game's interface; for example, the "New Game" option in the main menu is shown as "newGame".
  • Charged Attack: Charging the Glaive can result in a Power Throw that does four times the damage and can destroy certain chains. This is a bit tricky to execute, as you have to release the charge with perfect timing right as it hits its peak; holding it any less or any more will result in a normal throw instead.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Hayden, even upon learning how useful the powers he gets from the virus are, does not like them, and thinks they are what he "deserves" for being what he is: a state-sanctioned psychopathic killer.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Hayden's C4. You're supposed to place a bunch of charges across the prologue, but the game only gives this a passing mention and never actually requires you to do so - ergo, the block he throws in Viktor's lap in a cutscene is enough to destroy a sprawling complex that takes up most of an island on its own. A block of it you later find during actual gameplay barely destroys a single door.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The first level is desaturated almost to the point of being in black and white. It's not really all that clear why; color immediately comes in after Hayden takes the hit that infects him in the cutscene at the end of it.
  • Disability Superpower: While you'd only know from reading the previews since it isn't mentioned in game, Hayden has a condition called congenital analgesia; this results in insensitivity or indifference to pain, and is how he survives infection with The Virus without going mad. He's a fairly unrealistic depiction of a sufferer, given he hasn't managed to hideously damage himself accidentally during childhood. He appears to specifically have the "indifference" rather than the "insensitivity" version - this means the sufferer is aware of pain as a sensation associated with personal harm, but it does not hurt as it does for a non-sufferer. His complaining about a headache (due to his exposure to the virus) seems to reflect that he finds the sensation annoying, while the other cases where he "feels pain" are mechanical reactions to extreme physical trauma, e.g. the kind from the infection that drives everyone else mad.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Technocyte organisms get larger and Stronger with Age, and it's heavily implied that after a few centuries they become outright huge monsters. Mezner's plan is apparently to send out a signal that will go across the globe and wake these guys up from their ancient slumber deep beneath the ocean depths.
  • Enemy Civil War: Hayden is targeted by other infected and the Lasrian army, both of whom were created by/work for Mezner. But they don't like each other. In fact, they are just as likely to kill each other as they are to try and kill Hayden.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: If the rumours about the stalker being Yargo's daughter are true, then the scene where the stalker uncloaks behind Yargo and proceeds to attack Hayden all the while leaving Yargo alone could count.
  • Everything Fades: Rather inconsistent even despite the fact that the straight cases are clearly an intentional design decision rather than due to memory limitations. Bodies of soldiers persist, and certain types of infected enemies will remain, but others melt away into nothing (assuming they don't explode upon death) - except for limbs removed from them, which will persist long after the main body has withered away.
  • Feel No Pain: It's never mentioned or established in actual gameplay, but Hayden takes the infection lightly compared to everyone else because of a congenital condition making him unable to register pain.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Throwing the Glaive at sources of electricity, fire, or ice will temporarily imbue it with that element. This massively increases its damage, allows you to create a large elemental explosion (once you unlock that ability), and can be used to solve environmental puzzles (using electricity to power generators, fire to burn obstacles, ice to put out fires and freeze water).
  • Gas Mask Mooks: All of the Lasrian soldiers wear gas masks, save the ones who wear space suits.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Perhaps the only thing more horrifying than what the Lasrian military does in response to the infection (a slideshow you can find early on mentions that eliminating the civilian population around an infection site is one of their first priorities) is the strong possibility that it is actually justified considering the danger of said infection.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In one cutscene, Nadia is interrogating Yargo about how to open the vault. She slides her thumb over his eye, and asks him again. The camera shifts to show the back of his head as she starts to press, and the screen fades to white as a squish is heard and he screams in pain.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way:
    • Hayden's "Tekna 9mm" and "Tekna Burst" have "Cal .45 Auto" stamped on the slide.
    • The "Clip Extender" upgrade works on anything - even the break-open, breech-loading shotgun that very clearly could not hold more than two shells in reality without extensive modification to add an actual magazine.
    • "Ok, how about the C4?" "For Yargo, I'll give the Semtex..." Erm... Semtex is not C4.
  • The Hero's Journey: Referenced directly and played straight.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: A particularly extreme case in that it involves outright severing the foot: if you slice off an enemy's leg with the Glaive, they will sometimes hop in place a few times before dying from blood loss.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted; you can see exactly what weapons Hayden is carrying, aside from grenades. Additionally, you can carry at maximum three guns, but can only stow two; you have to drop the third to switch back from it.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Glaive, a three-pronged blade that grows out of Hayden's infected arm, can be thrown with ludicrous precision, and eventually gets upgrades that let him guide it after throwing, throw out temporary energy shields, and absorb energy from extreme heat, cold or electricity to immolate/freeze/electrocute what it hits or hit everything in a certain radius with a blast of that energy. Granted, some of this is more borne from Hayden's infection, which produced the Glaive in the first place.
  • Interface Screw: Enferon turns the screen various vile colours until you get the proto armor. Also, while smoke from the Jackal is supposed to show you when it's damaged, the Jackal always gives off a ton of smoke, even at 100% health.
  • Invisible Monster: Chromas are a variant of the Stingers with the added ability to turn invisible.
  • Jump Scare: In Chapter 7, when you go into the train tunnel, a monster will pop out of a hole in the wall with a loud roar and grab you, forcing you into to Press X to Not Die.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Enferon, a chemical which is only a minor irritant to humans but will kill infected Technocyte creatures quite quickly. You can find weapon add-ons to lace your own bullets with Enferon, which nearly doubles the power of your bullets and poisons infected enemies. Human enemies will also occasionally hurl Enferon grenades at you after the first chapter. The special suit that Hayden obtains in Vozro protects him from Enferon.
  • Mle Trois: You have the player vs. the Infected vs. the Lasrian Military.
  • Mirror Boss: Your final fight against The Dragon. By this time, Hayden's infected powers have fully developed and he is now a match for it; he's even got a cool suit of techno-organic armor just like the Nemesis. It also shows off that it's capable of doing a few things you thought you had exclusivity on, such as throwing its blade and imbuing it with lightning.
  • No Name Given: The AD is never called by his real name (Dixon) at any point in the released game; the fact that he has a name is primarily limited to pre-release material, though it's also on a nametag on his chest when he shows up at the end, if you look closely.
  • Noodle Incident: Large chunks of the backstory are treated this way, on account of the issue listed under All There in the Manual. It's mentioned the infection got out and was contained in the past, but no details are given. Hayden went psycho and killed a bunch of people in a previous mission, but no details are given. Nadia and Hayden have history, but no details are given. In fact, everyone in the facility seems to know Hayden personally, with Yargo having been briefed before meeting Hayden and Mezner having looked up Hayden's record specifically.
  • Off with His Head!: You can decapitate enemies by throwing your Glaive at their heads. There are even achievements for decapitating a lot of enemies and for getting two decapitations with one throw.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Whilst the older Technocyte infected tend to be superhuman type things, superpowered animals or Eldritch Abominations, the basic infected enemies are essentially metal-skinned zombies, complete with zombie gait, moaning and the occasional scene of them seemingly eating corpses.
  • Plot Hole: Many. See All There in the Manual for why.
  • Power Copying: Many of Hayden's powers wind up being similar to the Nemesis that infected him, but there's a few times where he copies the abilities of another enemy he's defeated, most specifically gaining "Shift" from the giant Stalker that turns invisible.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Literally guided with the Aftertouch ability.
  • Puzzle Boss: All of the bosses have elements of this, but the Nemesis is the most obvious one, as it cannot be harmed by normal weapons and has to be killed through a very specific set of actions.
  • Recurring Boss Template: Many highlights of the Stalker — spying on you as you try to catch fleeting glimpses in the shadows, turning invisible and sneaking up on you for devastating melee attacks, stealing its tools for yourself after you kill it — would later get reused by the boss of the same name in Warframe.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The revolver is by far the most powerful pistol in the game. This appears to be because it loads and fires sniper rifle rounds.
  • Samus Is a Girl: It turns out that Mezner's Guyver-looking Dragon is Nadia inside a Technocyte suit.
  • Shout-Out: The Glaive is named after the similar-looking weapon from the movie Krull.
  • Spider Tank: Lasria's Jackal tanks are more "dog tank", but they still have legs.
  • Sword and Gun: A weird variant, considering the Glaive is nothing like a sword, but this is basically how sidearms are used after Hayden gets infected, gun in the left hand and Glaive in the right.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The Nemesis. He starts the battle with a shield that can block absolutely everything you can bring to bear. The only way to break his shield is with an electrically-charged Glaive, but there's no exposed wiring in the room. Cue the Nemesis charging up his blade with electricity, only to have you dodge his throw and use his blade to charge yours.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In a cutscene, Hayden shoots Viktor Sudek in the head. He then dumps a C4 demolition charge in his lap.
  • Universal Ammunition: Ammo is generically split between ammo for pistols (the two handguns), assault rifles (anything automatic), shotguns, and "Magnums" (the sniper rifle and revolver), with little regard for chambering - most egregiously, the 9x18mm Klin PP-9 shares ammo with the 5.45x39mm AKS-74U and 5.56x45mm G36C, and the .455 Webley revolver shares ammo with the 7.62x51mm M1A.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: To begin with, Hayden can pick up any enemy weapons he likes; however, once infected the sensors on the weapons destroy them after a brief period (generally about fifteen seconds, though on one occasion a sniper rifle has a limiter that lasts for a full minute) if he uses them. Fortunately, weapons grabbed in this manner have separate ammo pools from what's available for your normal weapons, so it's not entirely pointless to avoid them in favor of your personal weapons bought from the black market.
  • Was Once a Man: Although we already know going in that all of the Infected were once human, there are subtle implications that the Stalker boss was Yargo's daughter.
  • Weak Turret Gun: The massive DshK / NSV hybrid mounted guns are practically useless, firing patterns so ridiculously wide that it's hard to hit an enemy a couple of yards away.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: You know that guy, Viktor Sudek, that you dropped the demolition charge in the lap of in the opening chapter? He's Nadia's father. The script totally forgets to make anything out of this or even mention it.