Written By Stephen Heller
When we think back of the great titles of this generation, we have had the pleasure of fighting our way through some of the most engrossing story-lines, soldiering on with some of the most memorable characters and experiencing some of the most unforgettable set plays that have ever graced video games. With such quality expected from titles this generation, there is simply no excuse for a game like Damnation to have ever been released to the masses. Whether it’s the poor dialogue, the random loading times, the horrendous graphics, characters who have about as much charm as a cup of coffee, Damnation simply has nothing going for it.
The sad thing is, this third-person shooter had potential to be a decent title. Players will be filling the role of Hamilton Rourke, a cowboy gone wrong set in an alternate history in the USA. Steampunk weaponry is invented and the arms dealer known as Prescott sells it to the Union and the Confederacy (read up on the Civil War). This extends the life of the war by 40 years, and you are stuck in the middle as you search for your lost fiance.
What starts out as a potentially interesting story line soon ends up distant memory of “what could have been”. Instantly from the first time you take control of Rourke you will get a bad taste in your mouth you simply cannot get out. He moves slow and feels clunky, there is no personality, and he doesn’t really serve as a protagonist, more a just a shell for you to control. The controls themselves are so unconventional it hurts, aiming with the shoulder button which brings you to a targeting reticle that is rigid, reload by clicking in the left thumbstick and running feels slow and ridiculously weighted.
Controls aside the AI is pathetic. Nine times out of ten your prey will simply just stand there and let you shoot him, with no resistance an no attempt to hide or look for cover. This simply doesn’t cut it this late into a generation, in face I don’t think it would even cut it on the first Playstation. Making headshots or attacking enemies that don’t even try to save themselves simply isn’t fun.
The developers have thrown in some vehicle segments to break up the action in an attempt to keep it fresh and exciting, but they have provided an experience so bad it makes you want to punch the screen. Empty environments, useless combat mechanics and clipping into the scenery that is unbearable. The vehicles sink into the ground, more often than not bodies you run over stick to the back of the vehicle and it’s just a choppy mess.
This isn’t the only segment that graphical abnormalities occur throughout Damnation Enemies getting stuck in walls and floating in mid air after being killed are all part of the general gameplay experience. The graphics are lacking majorly, filled with muddy textures, uninspired character models that would look D Grade on a PS2 game, and some of the most generic lighting effects you are likely to see. Frame-Rate issues are dime a dozen and it is just a nasty game to look at.
Damnation’s big claim to fame is what Codemasters are calling a “Vertical Shooter”, and while some of the platforming elements are there, they are executed in such poor fashion that you soon forget about it. Rourke can perform wall jumps and climb a multitude of objects, but these are all backed up with the same choppy controls, along with some terrible animations.
There is a multiplayer component to the game, but it offers the same terrible gameplay, there is the online co-op feature through the single player story of there is your typical deathmatch modes. Trying to get a game is next to impossible, and the lag is horrendous.
The difference between platforms are minor, and aren’t going to change the fact that this is a pathetic excuse for a game. The PS3/PC versions offer some slightly sharper visuals but still make the game look dated and terrible. All three versions expereince the same random loading times, the same lag and the same crappy experience.
The Final Verdict
Damnation is a sad entry into the gaming market of today. With so many quality games on offer, there is simply no excuse for letting a game so full of bugs out onto store shelves for consumers. It may claim to have original ideas, but none of them are ever finished, or even developed into a quality gaming experience. This could very well be the worst game of the generation! You have been warned