Iíll be damned...
Thereís a saying, damned if you do and damned if you donít. Iíve looked at the various reviews of Damnation on various platforms from our gaming peers and Iíve come to a conclusion that Damnation is a game that falls into that category. Itís a third person shooter that adds in vertical combat and some free-running style navigation wrapped up in a Steampunk inspired Wild West setting.Story
Damnationís story is a fairly generic one. The bad guy, Prescott Standard Industries has taken over, setting themselves up as the defacto rulership and making a play to take over fully. Youíre cast in the role of Hamilton Rourke and along with a couple of sidekicks you can bring justice to the varmints that have done the people wrong. Along the way thereís betrayal and the typical heroes journey. The story is delivered using the in-game engine and some cinematics, itís not bad, itís not stunning...but itís not terrible.Gameplay
Damnationís controls are twitchy, which is a bad thing when youíve got a game with such scope as this. Thereís no direct cover system but you can duck behind walls and behind things to stop the myriad of enemies from turning you into swiss cheese with their weapons and you do have a regenerating health state, as is prevalent in games these days. Thereís the usual mix of aiming and zooming in with a variety of Steampunky weapons. The main problem is that whilst the enemies can put a few holes in you rather quickly dropping you to near dangerous health levels, it takes a bucket of bullets to stagger one and the kick/accuracy of the weapons may force casual gamers to give up in frustration.
Once you get the hang of the twitchy aiming and movement controls, you now have to apply them to Assassinís Creed, PoP and Tomb Raider style free-running/parkour style navigation. Rourke can climb the environment quite well and whilst there are multiple routes in the games massive levels you can for the most part go gung-ho to the current area, often shown by a brief panning cut-scene to let you know where you have to get to. This kind of freedom is a plus point in the game and itís one of the games actual highlights. It doesnít force you down a particular path very often.
For the most part the parkour style navigation is solid and itís fairly easy to get to grips with, there are ropes to shimmy across and a bunch of other environmental objects you can use, zip lines, ladders, ropes and even the odd route you might not have thought possible.
For the most part youíll be tagging along with a few AI buddies, who can get knocked to a down but not out state, forcing you to abandon your fight and backtrack to help them back up. They can use the environment just like you and navigate any of the tricky jumps and free-running areas with ease. You can hang onto ledges and ropes whilst you shoot, slide down zip lines and so on, shooting, this little addition changes up the tactics in combat and does help to enliven the gameís combat.
You also get some vehicle sections that have twitchy handling and some pretty nice death defying stunts. For these parts your AI buddies will climb aboard the vehicle and provide covering fire as well.
Later on youíll get access to Spirit Vision, where you can stop and briefly view the positions of enemies in the environment. This is a useful tool for playing cooperatively with a friend (covered later) and eventually allows you to bring a friend back into the game if theyíve been taken down just by looking in their direction and pressing a button. A very useful cooperative move if you work in tandem and one of you becomes like a party healer.
The problem is that Damnation gameplay wise doesnít really feel all that fresh, weíve seen a lot of third person shooters and the ridiculously long time it takes to take down an enemy only adds to the frustration factor. You donít feel like a wall climbing, shotgun toting Wild West Steampunk badass when it takes an act of the Gods to bring down a measly guard. Youíll also find that the AI has an uncanny habit of knowing youíre about to snipe them from a mile away. The weapons look nice; they donít however seem to have much in the way of power and are pretty vanilla like the: pistol, explosive thing, machine gun thing, sniper rifle thing and so on. Thereís a railway spike gun, which was quite fun and had about as much power as a sneeze from a gnat though.
The game suffers from characters catching on scenery objects and the odd glitch where you can fall through the world and die. Graphics
The graphics in Damnation are a mixed bag, there are some nice textures and some interesting themed designs...the main problem again is that the game lacks polish. There are some very irritating issues involving texture tearing and ripping for instance and whilst theyíre not game breakers per-se, they are a little jarring. The game has some nice light/shadow effects and overall itís average in the graphics department. The frame rate doesnít chug for the most part either.