Overall Score 78%
Up in space, there's a war going on. A war with four sides. Earth and Archonia, the mysterious Black Faith and the powerful Lords of Polis, are all fighting each other. Choose which one you want to join and turn the battle to their favour.
Dark Archon is a look down on a two-dimensional universe, centred on your spacecraft, which varies along with the game difficulty depending on which one you choose at the start. You then face a series of missions that start gently and grow more difficult as they progress.
You control your ship either with mouse or keyboard. Indeed, the mouse can be utterly ignored in this game if you so wish, though I find it easier to steer the ship with one than with the keyboard. You have at your command a primary weapon and a limited secondary weapon, which vary with the ship. You also have limited shielding and armour, though shields will recharge given time. Be wary when navigating menus though as the spacebar selects options, not the Enter key or anything else. Many times I selected an option, pressed the wrong key and wondered why it didn't work.
The graphics are particularly polished and ships in particular look fairly good when they stop long enough for you to look at them. Indeed the main letdown is the title sequence, which seemed remarkably jerky in comparison to the main game. Dark Archon also loses points because it (rather clumsily) resized the screen from my normal 800x600 resolution without asking me.
And now for the music. I liked it. The first time. Unfortunately, the repertoire is rather limited and repeats over and over. Also, between the music and the sound effects, the game is rather loud, which may draw complaints from the family! Overall, though, the music and sound is excellent quality - just rather irritating over time.
There are many good aspects to Dark Archon and if you enjoy 2D space shooters you should enjoy this game. I should say though that the game plays very fast, and can become difficult rather quickly. The space race (mission 2) caused me a lot of trouble at first, though nowhere near as much as flying full pelt through an asteroid field with a mega death ship right behind me (mission 4). This game can be quite hard. In addition I disliked the way you spend your 'attribute points' (pausing the game, selecting the option, back to the game) and would have preferred a mid-level 'shop' or some such.
Overall this is a very slick effort and BC Soft are to be commended for it. I feel however that while the way the game looks and sounds is very professional, it loses out a little bit on game playability. A slightly shallower difficulty curve would be an excellent start, and I hope to see a slightly improved Dark Archon II some day.
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