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The funniest thing about this review is that I remember playing this game way back in 1999 at the E3 show that year. It was being displayed on the N64 and was slated as part of Nintendo's fall lineup for the aging console.
Needless to say that the game never made it into our hands. After three years of being reworked from the ground up for Nintendo's latest console Eternal Darkness has become one of the biggest balls of hype this side of Metroid Prime. The many years have passed and now the game is finally in our grubby hands, was it worth the time it took to make it? In a word...yes, it is a surprise some of the developers are not insane after such a long incubation period.
The first thing you need to do before playing ED is set aside all of your past notions of Nintendo. Forget that they have been labeled the "kiddy" console for a few hours and prepare to meet an all new grown up Nintendo. The blood, gore, and violence level of ED are enough to make a grown man cringe. Decapitations, mutilations, and outright gratuitous violence are commonplace here, not to mention some things that could be referenced to the satanic or even paranormal, Silicon Knights has left no stone unturned. After viewing the intro and playing the first few minutes into the game I knew I was in for something special and as the game grew on and on I can gladly say I was not let down.
I will try and describe the plot as best I can without giving away anything vital. You start off the game as Alexandria Roivous. You are awaken one night by a ringing phone and asked to come to Rhode Island because of an accident with your grandfather. Upon arrival you are greeted with an unpleasant surprise and decide to stay in the house until some answered are obtained. While searching the house for clues you stumble upon the Tome of Darkness, a book bound together by flesh and bone. Along with the book you pick up a chapter from the book and begin reading. Each chapter you obtain contains a character vital to the story's progression. You assume the role of said character and venture through their part of the story. Upon completion Alexandria has carried over everything they have learned to herself and can wield them in the house to find further chapters.
The best part about this game is what is called the Sanity Meter. This keeps track of how sane you are duh! When an enemy spots you you lose a little bit more, once depleted you begin to lose life. The only way to regain your sanity from the get go is to finish off your kills by pressing B after beating them down. It's pretty simple, but sometimes you just want to let the sanity meter fall as it concurs some crazy shit! Walls bleeding, sinking floors, and Gamecube system errors are just a few of the many things you can encounter upon reaching insanity. I will not spoil anything just rest assured you will enjoy being sane as well as insane!
ED is not without other attributes such as the combat and magick system. First off the combat is very nicely executed, you use the right trigger to lock onto enemies and once locked you can move the analog to aim for different body parts. You can also switch targets in midst battle by simply letting off the trigger and pressing it again. You can decapitate enemies and they cannot see you, remove their arms and they cannot strike you. Strategy plays a huge element in the combat so learn it wisely.
The next awesome feature is the magick system. As you progress through several chapters your character begins to learn magick. Gathering Runes and tablets enables your character to cast different spells to aid them on their journey. I cannot go into full detail but let's just say that you will be able to learn it and use it well as the game takes you through it with baby steps and makes it very user friendly. Some spells are vital to the game's progression so pay close attention to what each one does so you will know when to use them.
The weird thing about ED's visuals is that the further you get into the game the better they seem to get. The later levels definitely show off what the Gamecube can do visually while the earlier levels are just great LOL The game looks good all around but you can definitely tell which levels were designed more recently. The characters all look very good and support some of the best mouth movements in any game ever. The reality is that ED looks good no matter which way you slice it!
The best aspect of ED is definitely the sound. Presented in Dobly Pro Logic II this baby sounds incredible on a true setup! You can hear mumblings from the left side and screams from behind you. The creepy atmosphere is darkened by the use of the best sound ever in a videogame and that is NOT and understatement! The voice-overs are also some of the best ever, the only complaint is that you can tell some of the characters are re-done with the same actors, but honestly it is very hard to decipher!
So now that you have read this long ass review you are wondering why isn't this game receiving a perfect 10?? Well to be honest it has a few flaws, for one the enemies are almost all identical, which isn't a bad thing just a noticeable one. The difficulty is a bit on the easy side, and sometimes you find yourself questioning what the hell is going on in the story line. With a few tweaks yes it would have been perfect but until then I guess you will have to settle for one of the best goddamn games of all time. It's such a shame isn't it? Do not question whether or not to buy this game, just do it now!