It’s not often when I get myself to play singleplayer in FPS anymore, but this game came two years before the travesty that was Homefront. It only took me less than half an hour of gameplay to pass judgment on it, which may have been too quick. However, it really does deserve it, so I’m not sorry.
NOTE: This was originally published on August 21, 2009. It has since been edited to fit my current writing style, but it still retains most of the original idea, which is that I didn’t like this game.
Damnation is a first-person shooter set in a steampunk world, where players supposedly could do acrobatic stunts to go with the usual shooting.
The American Civil War raged on for decades and ended in the early 20th century, and technology was still dependent on steam engines. A group of freedom fighters now seek to continue the fight in overthrowing the totalitarian imperial government of America.
You play as Captain Hamilton Rourke, the leader of these rebels who must take the fight to the enemy if you ever want to see America free ever again. Along the way, he meets up with various characters like a Native American healer, a scientist, and so on.
That is a crack-tastic story that does have potential for a fun game. Unfortunately, the visuals and voice acting ruin immersion right from the initial stages of the game, and that persists throughout the whole thing.
While its imaginative concept makes it interesting as the steampunk genre is one of those things that are never touched on enough in video games (aside from Arcanum), the execution in this game is piss poor. The graphics may be passable at best (as most games are these days), but the character models are stiff and awkward. They are then coupled by terrible voice acting that shows how little of its budget was thrown into refinement.
It’s not just about making it look better, but also making it run better as this game does have a number of technical issues that spring up every now and then, which isn’t good while in the middle of gameplay. It’s also prone to sporadic drops in framerate, which means that lower-end to even some high-end systems may struggle all the same.
Starting with a positive, the acrobatic movement does make for enhanced mobility and exploration, although it doesn’t stay fresh since you’d be too busy shooting at enemies. Aside from that though, it’s a straight-up third person shooter with not much else in between, as most would expect. It was done so blandly though that it gets old pretty fast.
The enemy AI is obtuse for the most part, so they end up being target practice that make this game feel more like an on-rails shooter. They were made to be tough sponges though as they seemed to be overpowered to compensate for their lack of intelligence. This ends up with merely expending lots of ammunition and not much tactical consideration during fights.
When I wrote a review for this years ago, it was in the style of Angry Video Game Nerd, which I had since left behind for a more balanced and less abrasive style. It's not to say that I decided to stop having fun with writing reviews on bad games, but it shouldn't feel forced.
Giving it a 4, while low, is still quite generous. There have been reports that while the singleplayer is such an incredible mess, the multiplayer is actually alright. Unfortunately, I don't really get to try out multiplayer modes in most games due to some limitations, so I guess I'll never know. If this game were to be released now, it would have worked just fine with all the other multiplayer-only action titles from indie developers on Steam and elsewhere.
Alas, the online multiplayer in Damnation is a barren wasteland, just like the offices of Blue Omega Entertainment as this was the game that closed them.