GC 2008: Damnation Preview

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Damnation has got to be one of the coolest names for a video game ever. I actually can’t believe that no-one has even used or thought about using it up till now, so forgive me if I sound a little shocked. The title is a 3rd person, action-shooter from game’s industry new boys, Blue Omega Entertainment, due to be published by Codemasters.

In order to assess Damnation as its own title, you really need to get the whole “Gears of War is a better third person shooter” thought train out your head because they are totally different games. Sure they have third person perspectives but you don’t compare Hitman to Gears, the same way you wouldn’t here. Damnation is a shooter at heart, but it’s more of an acrobatic shooter. Think Tomb Raider meets Red Dead Revolver in a Will Smith’s Wild Wild West setting.

Damnation is a “steam punk” take on America where the industrial revolution has come and gone, and failed might I add, so the world as a result is in a state of chaos. The leading industrialist at the time, W.D. Prescott, has decided enough is enough and wants to restore order and what better than to use all his power and wealth to start an army to obliterate everything in his way... Makes sense really if you think about it. You take control of Captain Hamilton Rourke who is part of a band of rebels, The Peacemakers, who is trying to save America from the evil might that is W.D. Prescott.

One of the underlying themes of Damnation is that of exploration. The huge open world environments which are fully explorable, not only boast a huge draw distance, but the fact that you should see where you should be heading to in the distance gives you a real feeling of the sheer size of them. The game however, despite that, is primarily a shooter and as Codemasters like to call it, it is a “shooter gone vertical”. The reason for this is simple that because not only are the levels miles in horizontal distance but they are also thousands of vertical feet in height and this opens up what Codemasters like to call “vertical tactics”.
Damnation is all about the combat and this is where the vertical tactics ties in because it is a shooter, first and foremost. The game asks questions like, how are you going to use your acrobatic abilities to assist you? How are you going to use vertical environment in combat to get a jump on the enemy? So the focus is to do with, climbing through the environment to get your drop on the opponent whilst moving towards your overall objectives.

Of course, where would a shooter be without multiplayer as well. Damnation features both 2 player co-op through Live, split screen or over LAN and also has a competitive multiplayer mode with all the usual match types on offer. However, the whole verticality aspect puts an entirely different spin on them, take for example, capture the flag... Because the level focus is more to do with the whole verticality aspect, it could take the team whose base is at the top 10 seconds to get down to the flag but a hell of a lot long to get it back up and vice versa, so tactics will start to play a massive part. It definitely puts an entirely different spin on one of the more traditional match types.

Another mode that takes advantage of the verticality to offer something with a twist is king of the hill, whereby you actually have to scale a large structure and keep hold of it, rather than stand in a plot of land. Keeping hold of it isn’t necessarily easy either as the levels are built with zip wires overhead and sniper towers surrounding you meaning that tactics are necessary.
In the multiplayer arena (and single player mode in fact), players are blessed with what Blue Omega like to call “spirit vision” and this allows you to see your opponents auroras in the spirit world. The advantages of this is that it encourages the pace to move quickly and players to move around, rather than camp out of view with a sniper. Of course, while being in the spirit state makes you extremely vulnerable so choose when to use it wisely and everyone has access to this.
The whole acrobatic aspect plays a big part in the multiplayer meaning that there are many different ways to play it, whether you want to climb on to a roof to get the higher ground to get an advantage, run from an enemy who severely out guns you or simply just use it to get to a shortcut to save you a few valuable seconds, it all plays a part in the grand scheme of offering a multiplayer with a difference.
The title in actual fact does demonstrate some pretty unique ideas whilst at the same time offering a multiplayer mode that could make for some interesting times. However, Damnation’s release window and classification may be its downfall in the end and comparing Damnation to Gears is pretty much a certainty, when in actual fact it’s like comparing an apple to a tomato... Whereas they are both fruits in one sense of the word, but when placed side by side they are entirely different. However, despite the difference, Damnation may still fall victim of that unfair comparison... Saying that, so will most third person shooters this fall.

Damnation will be available this holiday season on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


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Game Info


US May 26, 2009
Europe May 29, 2009

ESRB: Mature
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