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Darkwatch: Curse of the West is a 2005 Western horror first-person shooter video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game was developed by High Moon Studios (formerly Sega Sammy Holdings) and published by Capcom in the United States; in the United Kingdom, it was published by Ubisoft.
The game's story (narrated by Peter Jason) follows the exploits of Jericho Cross, an outlaw-turned-vampire, and his employment in an ancient vampire-hunting order known as the Darkwatch (hence the game's title). After unwittingly releasing the Darkwatch's greatest enemy, a vampire lord named Lazarus Malkoth, Jericho is conscripted into the Darkwatch as an elite operative. Jericho, however, is slowly turning into a vampire himself, after being bitten by Lazarus. The game outlines either Jericho's struggle for humanity or his descent into darkness, depending on the player's actions.
The game begins in Arizona Territory in 1876 with Jericho attempting to rob a Darkwatch train that is transporting the captured Lazarus Malkoth to the Darkwatch Citadel, a frequently mentioned and often visited location in the game, and in doing so releasing Lazarus into the West. In a seeming bit of mercy, Lazarus bites Jericho and gives him the curse of the vampire, causing him to slowly turn into one. The game continues with the introduction of Cassidy, as well as the appearance of Shadow, Jericho's undead horse.
As the game progresses, Jericho finally make his way to the Darkwatch Citadel, where he meets Clay Cartwright, the leader of Darkwatch, who brutally tests him to see if he deserves to be a Darkwatch Regulator. The test completed, Jericho begins to do missions for the Darkwatch. Missions include fixing some of the damage he has caused, to acquiring Darkwatch equipment, such as the Darklight Prism, a stone that allows vampires within its vicinity to use their powers and walk in sunlight. On some of his missions Jericho is accompanied by other Darkwatch forces including his new partner, the ruthless temptress named Tala.
A final showdown ensues with Lazarus attacking the Citadel and bringing about a massive fight, in which Jericho arises victorious, and a choice is given. Either Jericho rids the west of the Curse of Lazarus, or he become the Curse. The player's choice determines how the game ends. If the character were to choose the good option, then the final fight will be against the vampiric Tala, and if they player chose to take Lazarus' curse for himself, then he must fight the ghost of Cassidy. The bad ending shows Jericho killing Tala and riding into the night, while the good ending shows Cassidy's soul being released.
- Jericho Cross (voiced by Christopher Corey Smith): The protagonist of the game, Jericho is a bitter veteran of the Civil War and an infamous outlaw before joining the Darkwatch. During his "one last job" on a train, he releases Lazarus Malkoth from his prison in a failed attempt to steal the contents.
- Cassidy Sharp (voiced by Jennifer Hale): The first female protagonist, and the very same agent who attempts to stop Jericho on the train in the game's opening sequence. After the explosion of Lazarus' prison, she joins Jericho, but is later murdered by Lazarus. Cassidy returns as a good ghost and befriends Jericho, aiding him in his mission to stop Lazarus (a role similar to this of Cortana in Halo).
- Tala (voiced by Rose McGowan): Tala ("Stalking Wolf"), a Native American shaman and a brutal Darkwatch agent, is the second female protagonist until she seduces Jericho and persuades him to bite her during sexual intercourse. The next day, she uses her new abilities for her own benefit. A nude illustration of her character appeared in the October 2004 issue of Playboy magazine.
- Lazarus Malkoth (voiced by Keith Szarabajka): Lazarus was a Roman who first founded the Darkwatch society in 66 AD in order to battle vampires. He eventually himself became a powerful vampire and turned on the organization he founded, raising an undead army to aid him in his task.
- Clay Cartwright (voiced by Michael Bell): The ruthless commander of the Darkwatch in the rank of Brigadier General. Cartwight snipes Jericho and enslaves him, forcing him to participate in a series of trials before inducting him into the organization.
- Shadow: Jericho's vampiric horse that appears at his beckon. Shadow never tires, and he never slows. When riding on Shadow, Jericho is granted unlimited ammunition and high attack speed, at the cost of only being able to use the Redeemer.
Jericho is met with multiple choices of a good or evil variety, allowing the player to select morality awarding Jericho different powers based on the same choices. The evil powers tend to be more rage oriented and deal higher damage per use, while the good powers deal less damage but tend to be more effective against enemies in general. During the daylight hours, Jericho's powers are gone, and as such he has to fight as a normal human. Along with the arrival of these powers, Jericho meets many enemies and a discovers a wide variety of weaponry, from a Darkwatch's standard-issue Redeemer handgun to the Gatling gun-equipped Coyote Steam-Wagon vehicle.
The Xbox version has competitive multiplayer for up to 16 players online, although system link is not possible. The PS2 version does not offer any online connectivity and competitive multiplayer is limited to two players (or four players while using an optional multitap device) via splitscreen gameplay. The entire story mode is available for split screen co-operative play on PS2, a feature absent from the Xbox version. In this mode, both players play as Darkwatch Regulators (however, cutscenes designed for the single player mode and featuring Jericho Crane as the main character are left unchanged, causing a number of glaring continuity errors).
The developers licensed Ennio Morricone's main theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which was remixed to fit the horror feel of the game. The remaining music on the soundtrack is completely original, co-composed by Mike Reagan, a veteran film and game music composer, and Asdru Sierra, front-man for Latin Grammy-winning indie band Ozomatli.
Upon its release Darkwatch has received positive reviews from many reviewers, including the ratings of 7.9 ("Good") for both the PS2 version at GameSpot ("If you're looking for an intense shooter experience, Darkwatch will not disappoint.") and the Xbox version at IGN ("Cowboys, vampires, and sexy dead girls are fun in parties, but not so much alone.").
As of June 2010, the game's Metacritic average score stands at 74 (critics) and 8.7 (users) for the PS2 version and 75 (critics) and 8.3 (users) for the Xbox version. It also holds the user rating of 8.1 at IMDb, while GameFAQs has is rated 7.8 (user score) 7.0 (user reviews) for the PS2 version, and 7.6 (user score) and 7.9 (user reviews) for the Xbox version.
The 176-page art book The Art of Darkwatch was published in August 2005 by Design Studio Press. The 30-track original soundtrack Darkwatch Original Game Music Score was released in November 2006 by Sierra Entertainment.
- ↑ Darkwatch 2 (X360/PS3 - Cancelled)
- ↑ Darkwatch Gets Grammy Winning Musicians to Create a Dark Score
- ↑ Darkwatch Review for PlayStation 2 - GameSpot
- ↑ Darkwatch - Xbox Review at IGN
- ↑ Darkwatch (ps2) reviews at Metacritic.com
- ↑ Darkwatch (xbx) reviews at Metacritic.com
- ↑ The Art of Darkwatch: Book - Design Studio Press
- ↑ Darkwatch Original Game Music Score - Music from Games
- Official website (Internet Archive)
- The Art of Darkwatch slide show
- 'Darkwatch' at MobyGames
- Darkwatch (Xbox) at GameFAQs
- Darkwatch at the Internet Movie Database
- Darkwatch at Giant Bombfr:Darkwatch