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Eternal Darkness

Preview By: Siou Choy

Developer:  Silicon Knights
Publisher:  Nintendo
Genre:  Survival Horror
Est. Release:  02-14-02
Posted:  11-19-01

Everybody hold your breath: relative newcomer Silicon Knights, not content to make simply another survival horror, will be providing the GameCube with it's first "psychological thriller" (ahem).  Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem will offer gamers the opportunity to play as several different characters in a storyline spanning over 20 centuries and 40-60 hours of gameplay, complete with multiple endings for that "never-ending story" touch.  Among the playable characters are a medieval sorcerer, a centurion of the Roman army, or a modern day woman (perhaps the most dangerous character of all...just check out the roads, o ye of little faith).

Like several other GameCube titles, Eternal Darkness was originally slated for the Nintendo 64, but ported over last minute, for obvious
reasons.  Apparently, Silicon Knights have made a few upgrades in the move to the GameCube: rumor has it that the main characters in the game will be made up of 5500 polygons (which is definitely more than your average N64 character).   It is also possible to have 5-20 enemies on-screen at any given time, each with a polygon count of about 3000.  Volumetric fog, ray-tracing, and reflections will make the game look more realistic; and this isn't even taking into account the usual full-motion video sequences (which are always well done, regardless of game or system in question).

One weird aspect of Eternal Darkness is the substance-abuse inspired "insanity meter."  The lower the meter dips the more "insane" you become.  In practical terms, this refers to everything from physically harmless hallucinations affecting your character's senses
(which place you into doubt as to what's actually going on at any given moment), to more extreme cases, such as witnessing your own death (which may or may not have actually happened, and may or may not actually be about to happen).  Like, pull out the black light and fire up that bong, man.

To paraphrase somewhat from Silicon Knights press release, the plot of Eternal Darkness is as follows:

Long before man walked the earth, the planet belonged to another species, unbound by physics, nature, purpose or ethic (ooh, how
Lovecraftian). Thanks to such handy dandy deux ex machina as the ice age and the continental shift, this species was driven into the recesses
of the world, to lie dormant, until such time as the conditions were right for their return.

The innocent (ahem) human race, safe in its blind superiority ("blind superiority"??) is oblivious to the danger it walks amongst (yeah, nobody seems to mind all the civil rights intrusions lately...). The Ancients want to reclaim the Earth as their own, and have taken great pains to ensure their reign in the dawn of the
new millennium.

Secret Societies, hungry for power and domination, mad with their obsession, seek to restore the Ancients to their former mastery. Over the aeons the sects have been active, scheming and plotting in the darkness, worshipping entities and attempting to summon them, through arcane magicks, blood and sacrifice (It's hard to resist inserting a comment
about Republicans, here).

Twelve people, their fates inextricably entwined with the destiny of the human race, fight an incomprehensible war (well, at least put out
an incomprehensible press release) against the malignant regime of the Ancients. From a benevolent monk during the paranoia of the Inquisition, to a Special Forces commando deep behind enemy lines, the Chosen Few find their lives torn apart by the unseen evil, and are forced to confront their fears without reward or glory.

Think that's bad?  Just wait - here's where the PR gets really cheesy: The human mind is a fragile thing at best and confronting the
numbing power of the Ancients is no small feat. These poor souls will find the very concept of reality challenged, even fractured in the
yawning maw of insanity. Some will fail, while others will brave the grim dangers of their shattered minds, experiencing effects that transcend that which is real, and that which is pure abhorrent delusion.  Yet
(insert melodramatic sigh of relief here) not all hope is
lost
. The tools at their disposal are both ancient and modern - from sophisticated technology like laser sighted automatic rifles, (is it
just me, or are your teeth grinding at this point?) to the mystical powers of arcane magick. After all, not all the servants of the Ancients are immune to the edge of a sharp blade....(oh, my God, spare me...).

Just to keep you from getting bored, here's another blatantly obvious statement about right wingers and corporate-governmental invasion of
privacy: The enemy are aware of the resistance of mankind, and have infiltrated every level of its society. The lurking abominations of the
Ancients hide behind trusted faces,
(ahem) wearing their skins like puppets, manipulating and controlling the fate of humanity (and
I quote, "we was sittin' ducks for the po-lice man...").  Dare you shed blood and bone, as well as mind and sanity, for the sake of your kindred? (ooh, spooky AND political).

Enough of that nonsense (I know, I hear you begging me to STOP THE MADNESS.  Believe it or not, the press release ran even longer at
the mouth...).  Fighting in the game features an enemy targeting system.  Using this system the gamer has the ability to dismember specific body
parts of enemies (someone scream "Fulci lives!").  That aside, there have been complaints from demo players that despite the implicit grue of such a concept, there just isn't enough blood spewing from said vivisections (so all you slavering gorehounds out there can just sit back
and take a chill pill). 

In all, it seems like an average day out for the hardened survival horror addict.  But judging from the screenshots provided on the packaging, it hardly seems like a run-to-the-store, must-have release to accompany that GameCube during the long winter after Christmas months.  

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