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Damnation – hands-on

For those who can’t seem to make up their mind between buying a new shooter or a platformer, now you can have both in Blue Omega’s upcoming release, Damnation. The game takes place in an alternate future, as though the American Civil War has dragged on well into the 22nd century. You play as Captain Hamilton Rourke, who leads a guerrilla resistance force called the Peacekeepers. We were able to get our hands on some gameplay at last week’s Codemasters Gamers’ Day 2009, but with the release date only a month away, we could only hope that the final build will show some improvements.

 

Damnation combines Gears of War-style third-person shooting with Assassin’s Creed-like platforming. Thankfully, shooting feels faster in the game, especially while aiming, where your movement normally would slow down in other games. However, the enemy AI seems a bit off. The enemies appeared to do more damage to our shotgun-slingin’ cowboy from a distance, but once we got close to them, they got scared and ran away. We found that a lot of times we could just sneak up to an enemy and kill them in one shot.

The platforming part of the game also felt a little wonky as some of the acrobatic jumps we had to perform seemed impossible to make at first glance. The controls were not camera-specific – you can’t move the camera around to see where to land, you just have to hold one button to prepare for the jump, another to actually jump, and then just hope for the best. The representative told us that they implemented a technology called ballistic prediction in the game where collisions are detected closer than usual, which explains why we made all of the impossible jumps. How this is a good idea is beyond us, but then again Keanu didn’t think he could make that jump in The Matrix… wait, he didn’t. Shoulda had that ballistic prediction!

 

Prepare to also get lost in Damnation’s vast levels – literally. No really. There are no maps or type of arrow to guide you where to go between killing enemies. Playing through a bit of a level, we found that you can play one level in different ways because of the various paths you can take to one location. While this does make the game more interesting and less linear, it was easy to get lost and confused as to where we had to go next. The representative told us that the final build won’t have any maps and you have to use your instincts or your sorcery to figure it out. Yeah, we said sorcery. One of Damnation’s features is a sort of Native American-inspired magic you possess called Spirit Vision that can help you find enemies hiding in buildings and show where your AI comrades are. You can also use these powers to revive them when they’re down.

Lastly, Damnation could use a bit of color. Many browns and grays define the look of this game, from the metal-constructed buildings down to the plain-Jane character costumes. Maybe people start to stop caring about vivid colors when a war’s been going on for several years, but hey. Couldn’t hurt.

While Damnation looks like it could be a promising game presenting another shooter-meets-platformer genre, the game could use a nice control polish-up and a few more choices off the ol’ color wheel. We just might have to wait and see when the game releases this spring.

Feb 27, 2009

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15 comments

  • tonyromo9 - April 4, 2009 10:39 p.m.

    even though theres no map (which sucks!!) i still might buy this. it looks pretty cool. but i definitly dont wanna get lost
  • midgiemelendez - March 23, 2009 12:07 a.m.

    seems like it could be pretty cool tho, if its true that theyre like gears of war and assassins creed, theyre both k-a games
  • cart00n - March 2, 2009 11:41 p.m.

    Pity. I had high hopes for this game. Why do developers repeatedly create ways to get the player lost? In an age where there are more choices than ever to spend our gaming time and money, designing games that rely on trial and error and memorization to get around their huge worlds is becoming increasingly out-moded. I have so many games that I'm in the middle of playing right now, if any one of them didn't have a good map/GPS-type system built into them, I wouldn't be able to keep track of what's going on. Between Fable 2, Fallout 3, Dead Space, GTA4, Saint's Row 2 and others, if I was only able to get around using memorization, these would all be unplayable - unless I happened to only be playing ONE of them at a time. If I can't put a game down for a while, come back to it some time later, and know exactly what I need to do and where to go as soon as I turn it on, I simply am not going to be playing that game again, no matter HOW good it is. Case in point: Overlord. What a great, fun little game - until I got distracted by another game and put Overlord down for a while. When I came back to play it, I was totally lost. Kept getting ass-backwards trying to find just basic stuff. It was so frustrating, all the fun I had the first time I started exploring this world just sort of evaporated. I know I'm not the only one to have this problem, either, because I've already read that the sequel has a map system built-in. Besides, it's just good sense to know that feeling lost simply isn't any fun. Why do some developers fail to grasp this concept?
  • Z-man427 - March 2, 2009 6:57 p.m.

    aw man! it looked so good. i hate when devs do that!
  • oryandymackie - March 1, 2009 5:50 p.m.

    when is this coming out for the 360? I've been following it for AGES
  • the_real_fluke - March 1, 2009 5:04 a.m.

    maybe the title of the game was a prediction of the games fate. damned
  • FancyRat - February 28, 2009 3:11 p.m.

    Indeed, climbing wolf. I do like to see a preview that isn't a complete ass-kiss.
  • climbing wolf - February 28, 2009 12:58 a.m.

    Brutal preview death...don't see how this could get better in a month
  • JohnnyMaverik - May 13, 2009 2:58 a.m.

    Eh, sounds kinda unfinished, hate that, devs get close to their release date nd just shrug, bollock to that, 4 more months, patch it up a bit, and the game will be much better for it, although seeing at its coming out this months (22nd) which isnt exactly the fullest month for promising releases, especially shooters, might do better than it diserves. Nd of course they may have managed to touch it up, fix the AI problems etc, i dnt get the map thing thou, surely the player should decide whether or not they want an in game map, its not like its hard for them 2 do and then if u give people the option to turn it off those few people who would want to do that can so, and the rest of us who im guessing would be the majority can just play the damn game. Eh, ill remain skeptical but with a glimmer of hope tucked away concerning this one. In terms of a concept it sounds great, but i cant help but feel they're guna mess this up badly on the things they should get right, like basic game play, which is really, really anoying, especially if they manage to get a good story line, top class voice acting and interesting characters in there, which the very well could with that setting.
  • ryno - April 14, 2009 2:51 p.m.

    im buying this game and i am going to see what i think about it. i mean you bashed ledgendary but i tried it anyway and look what happend i liked it.
  • ZeRo - March 22, 2009 5:31 a.m.

    disappointing...just like Legendary...and I was pumped for them both...
  • drfunk124 - March 16, 2009 1:30 p.m.

    nobody ever played this mod for UT2004? that's where this game has come from. look for it on one of those game file sites. it wasn't too bad.
  • Nuke5 - March 1, 2009 7:53 p.m.

    I hate to say it, but this game smells of Fail.
  • NelosAngelos - March 1, 2009 6:49 p.m.

    I've been wondering about this game for some time now. Now that it's only a month or so from completion...I hope they start some serious overhaul on a few things.
  • Grenade - February 28, 2009 8:43 p.m.

    I keep hearing about these control problems, and it makes me very sad.

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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