Would it be wrong for me to start a review by saying this may be one of the worst games I've played in the past three years? Usually I'll put together some spiel with a background and introduction that eventually leads into the review. But in this situation, I'm afraid there's really no introduction to make. This is comically bad. I mean, I previewed this game last December and was actually really looking forward to playing it after reading the fact sheet Codemasters had sent us and watching the footage. But upon playing this, I, quite literally, burst into laughter out of awe.
I was in awe because I couldn't believe that a game like this would actually pass through quality and assurance and even more in awe that Codemasters decided to ship this. The story of Damnation revolves around the United States after a civil war between two rivaling factions that eventually depleted the economy of money and found themselves short on cash, willpower, and able bodies. The factions collapse and anarchy breaks out allowing a new power, the PSI, to take control. The PSI takes control of the east, and make their way to the western territory, which was not affected by the civil war. And so to prevent the PSI from taking over the west (sing it with me), 'here you come to save the daaaay.' While you don't get to control Mighty Mouse, you do take on the role of Rourke.
One of the Damnation's appealing aspects was that you could run through the stages in a variety of ways. If you wanted to take the lower path, you could. If you wanted to climb up high and make your way through a section from the top, you could do that too. Unfortunately for Damnation, the moment you pick up the controller, you won't care or want to do any of those things, because the gameplay is absolutely terrible.
By holding down L2 you enter the shooting mode, and hitting R2 fires. If it was only that simple. Where as countless other games have managed to get the Gears of War mechanic down to a tee, the developers of Damnation must've skipped their classes on how to create a normal shooting mechanic. Instead what we have is this clunky, inaccurate, and utterly useless shooting system that makes it almost impossible to play this game. Worst of all, you have A.I. that is so bizarre and just downright stupid, it really leaves you baffled. I have often shot at an A.I character numerous times, only to witness him stand in one place doing absolutely nothing until many seconds later. On top of that, it takes way too many shots to kill someone, and I can never tell if my bullets connect or not.
Those few aspects right there absolutely destroy any chance or potential this game once had. It is broken beyond belief, and that's a shame, because this could've been something worthwhile had Blue Omega actually put some more time and effort into this. Additionally, as far as value goes, the multiplayer suffers tremendously because of the dreadful shooting, and the overall adventure is no more than just a few short hours in length. What really irks me is that it also took like 15 minutes for this game to install.
The visuals are surprisingly not as bad as the gameplay, but still nothing worth writing home about. Texture detail is downright dreadful in some areas, looking smeared and ugly close up or far away. There's even some unusual pop-up that occurs right in front of you. Character detail is certainly something that looks like it was born in the last generation and had a resolution bump for the PS3, PC, and X360. Actually, seeing as how Damnation originally started life as an Unreal Tournament 2004 PC mod, that could be a plausible theory. Because the game doesn't have any stages and is just one giant, seamless environment, the draw-in distance is pretty far and you do see some nice scenery here and there. Moreover, the framerate is surprisingly decent, all things considered, and the picture quality is smooth too. But ultimately, Damnation is still a pretty dated and sloppy looking game.
The audio is made up largely of voice acting, a soundtrack in the background, and some sound effects...none of which have one remotely appealing trait to them. The voice acting is awful, in particular the voice actor behind Winslow has one of the most painful accents I've ever heard - his dialogue constantly changes from no accent to having an accent. The sound effects are pitiful, and the soundtrack is completely uninspired.
And thus we arrive to the conclusion, and what an easy one this is. Just stay far, far away from this game. If someone offers it to you for free, punch them in the nose repeatedly. If said person insists and says you could use it as a coaster for your drinks, once again, pummel him. Target practice for your shotgun? Nope. Setting it on fire? Nah, not worth the waste of fire. You get the point, right? Okay.
7/23/2009 Arnold Katayev