Review: Damnation

Damnation.jpg Abomination. That would actually be a much more fitting title for Codemasters and Blue Omega’s new “vertical” third-person shooter Damnation because, well…the game is an abomination! Damnation truly is the worst game of the year so far, and quite frankly it is right up in the top five worst games I’ve played this generation. Yes, it really is THAT bad!

So what exactly went so wrong with the game? Sadly, everything. To explain to you just how awful a game Damnation is, I decided to put together an expanded ‘cons’ list in lieu of a traditional review. Read on to see why you should never, ever play this game.

  • Verticality My Ass: Damnation was billed from the outset as the “shooter gone vertical,” an evolution of traditional third-person shooter values with all sorts of daredevil acrobatics and high-flying action. Can’t say I found any of those descriptions to be accurate. While it is true that the levels are laid out in a vertical structure, the core gameplay is really about as plain vanilla as a third-person shooter can be. You wanna know what verticality really means in Damnation? It means having to sit through elevator load times even more annoying than those in Mass Effect and having to climb ladders and windowsills ad nauseam. I’ve seen more verticality in Tomb Raider and Uncharted, thank you very much!
  • Weak Gunplay: Damnation’s shooting mechanics can be described in one word: pathetic. The targeting controls are clumsy and imprecise, the hit detection is terrible, and the gunfire sound effects are weak.
  • Worst Enemy AI Ever: I’m not exaggerating either. The AI is definitely more artificial than it is intelligent. Enemies frequently find themselves getting stuck on walls and ledges, and even when they don’t they’ll often stand out in the open oblivious to your presence even as you pump them full of lead, even the bosses. One of the late bosses in the game got stuck on a wall near a window and I simply sniped her from afar without any resistance. A game with AI that glitchy should never have been released.
  • Awful Story: From the terrible writing and voice acting to the dull, unlikable characters, the storyline in Damnation is entirely forgettable, almost painful to endure at times. I can’t stress enough how bad the voice acting is either. There’s one character – I think her name was Jack – that I swear must’ve been voiced by two different actresses. All of a sudden about ¾ of the way through the game her voice abruptly changes, almost as if the original actress cast for the part quit and the developers had to pull someone else in to finish the role.
  • Hideous Graphics: Damnation looks downright fugly. I really don’t know why I even put a screenshot gallery up with this review because it contains nothing but misleading ‘bullshots’. The whole steampunk setting is a cool concept and I can see that some good artistic thought went into creating that setting, but that’s about as kind as I can be. Poor frame rates, glitchy animations, boxy level geometry, muddy textures, clumsily produced cut scenes, sad special effects…this game is a graphical nightmare. It’s almost as if Codemasters accidentally burned alpha code onto the retail discs, that’s how unfinished it looks and feels.
  • Lame Vehicle Missions: In between shooting bad guys and all the monotonous climbing, you’ll hop aboard steam-powered motorcycles to get from point A to point B. And that’s it. These segments add no challenge or worthwhile value to the experience. You simply hop on and drive forward until you reach the next area. Pointless and boring.
  • Barren Online Play: Generally I think criticizing a game for not having a bustling online community is a bit unfair, but not so in this case. Damnation actually has a decent online offering with campaign co-op play and some competitive modes for up to eight players, and when I could find matches I found the multiplayer superior to the single-player. But because the core gameplay mechanics are so dreadful, the online playing field is a barren wasteland. In a way I suppose that’s a good thing though because it shows gamers have been smart to stay away from buying this game.

  • OK, I think that about sums up Damnation’s many faults. I hate having to be so brutal here, as I’m the type of gamer who enjoys games of all types and appreciates the time and effort that goes into the development of every game, but unfortunately Damnation is such a broken mess that I had no other choice. Don’t be fooled by the doctored screenshots or cool-sounding marketing buzzwords, this is a game to be avoided at all costs.

    SkipIt.jpg

    Pros:
    + I don’t have to play this pile ever again!

    Cons:
    – Ummm…everything!

    Game Info:
    Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available on PC and Xbox 360
    Publisher: Codemasters
    Developer: Blue Omega Entertainment
    Release Date: 5/26/09
    Genre: Third-Person Shooter
    ESRB Rating: Mature
    Players: 1-8
    Source: Review copy provided by publisher



    About the Author

    Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!