PS3 Review: Damnation

Oh what fresh hell is this?

Evolving the shooter genre with its unique and exhilarating combination of fluid action and combat, Damnation will feature huge, open environments, frenetic combat, daredevil acrobatics and high-octane vehicle-based stunts. Presenting players with an intense test of reflexes, quick thinking and rapid-fire conflict, Damnation will feature vast, breathtaking landscapes, each covering miles of distance and thousands of vertical feet.
Damnation - Yeah, don't we know it.
Billed as a ‘shooter gone vertical’ and visually inspired by iconic elements of American history, these massive streaming landscapes will form the battlegrounds for a post-industrial conflict between humanity and an unstoppable arms dealer hell-bent on total world domination.

Players will be able to choose their own paths and navigate the world by performing daredevil feats on the edge of human ability. However players aren’t the only ones with mind-blowing acrobatic skills; intelligent enemies will give chase and engage players in frantic gun fights and attacks that can come from any direction – in Damnation’s world there’s no safe place to hide.

With up to three hours of actual gameplay stretching out in front of them per level, players will need more than just muscle power to get across each level safely. Damnation will offer players a selection of awe-inspiring vehicles, from motorbikes capable of launching across seemingly infinite chasms, to huge, armour-piercing marvels that will induce mayhem with every huge shell.

The high action will be supported with an epic and in-depth story which, while focusing on the exploits of the hero character Rourke, is truly an ensemble piece. Players will meet and become involved in intricate story plots that reveal much more than the obvious.

The above paragraphs are taken from an official description of the game; it makes it sound really good, like it could be a sleeper hit. Well unfortunately no amount of detail can hide the fact that Damnation is perhaps the worst game of 2009. It’s a game that feels half finished, but it’s been shipped out regardless. You can see tons of imperfections all around the game, not just in terms of controls…but even the basics like visuals, characters flicker during some sections and the overall game isn’t fun to play in any regard.
This is about as good as the platforming gets
Damnation essentially tries to mix platforming elements with being a third-person shooter, but it just doesn’t work. The platforming is average at best, but the shooting and other elements are just plain awful. There are dozens of objects you could take cover from, yet the game has no cover system of any kind other than being able to duck behind objects. You have teammates with you who are useless and keep requiring assistance, but on the plus side…there is online co-op, if you can find anyone willing to put themselves through this game, that is.

Damnation’s biggest problem has to be with its controls, you can’t change them and they don’t feel natural at all. Rourke isn’t a memorable character, in fact…the entire story is a mess, it offers no impact of any kind and it left me with a horrible taste in my mouth. It lacks any great moment to redeem itself; instead it relies heavily on elements that are weak anyway. It’s hard to imagine how Codemasters could let this half-baked game out to the masses when it’s clearly nowhere near finished. I can see the potential in there; somewhere…it just needed a small miracle to make it work, like starting from scratch.

There is an online multiplayer component which is just as bad and unrewarding, so it’s not worth writing home about. And now we move onto the presentation side of things…well, same goes. Visually, the game is a mess. Levels are dull to look at, character models are disappointing and there are plenty of visual bugs along the way. Voice-acting isn’t memorable at all and in some cases, it’s just terrible. The game’s music can be ok, but it’s not enough to compensate for the other faults.

The Verdict

If you haven’t worked it out by now, Damnation is a terrible game. It lacks anything memorable, it isn’t fun to play and it feels unfinished. Let’s hope this bad trend doesn’t continue any further…