|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Blue Omega||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q4 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
July 14, 2008 - Many times, when a genre of gaming expands, it develops into several sub-genres. Take shooters for example. Now, instead of just one shooter genre, there are first person shooters, third-person shooters, historical shooters, and sci-fi shooters. These niche categories generally help fans decide what titles they will enjoy most and are pretty familiar to most gamers. But, have you ever heard of a vertical shooter?
Damnation, the recently announced shooter from publisher Codemasters, has been described as a shooter gone vertical by its publishers. What exactly does that mean? Well, in order to explain the vertical concept of the gameplay, its probably important to discuss the context. Damnation takes place in an alternate U.S. History where the civil war never ended. The war between the South and the North has been raging for the past forty years and shows no sign of slowing down. As a result of the prolonged war, several government-backed mercenary groups have formed, and this is where you come in.
You play as the spectacularly named Hamilton Rourke (seriously, say it aloud, it rolls right off the tongue!) Rourke is the leader of the mercenary group Prescott and has found out that there is an evil plot afoot that will take advantage of the longstanding conflict and use it as a chance to get rid of both the Confederacy and the Union and achieve, what else, world domination. Of course, we cant make it easy for this guy. Our hero comes armed with an impressive array of weaponry including a trademark Golden Eagle and of course, a cowboy hat.
But make no mistake, Hamilton Rourke is no ordinary cowboy. Rourke has the uncanny ability to see peoples spirit auras and can determine whether they are friend or foe by holstering his weapon and putting his fingertips on his temples. If youre thinking that this sounds a little dangerous, well you would be right. Every time you use this ability you must put away your weapons and you will be left completely vulnerable to enemy attacks. This sounds a lot like the Eagle Vision mode in Assassins Creed, although we wont know how exactly this one will work yet, so I wouldnt be so fast to judge.
So, how does this all add up to a vertical shooter? Well the world of the game looks to be a little over-built, and much of the game has you jumping down alleyways and scaling large buildings. Early screenshots really give the game an almost acrobatic feel, which is quite amusing when juxtaposed with the aforementioned cowboy hat.
One really cool facet of the vertical levels is they are completely non-linear. While we in the gaming community have come to expect non-linear gameplay from most titles, this is especially interesting considering Damnations up-and-down nature. Developers have said that Damnations level design really tries to focus on exploration, and each level will have multiple routes and several ways to exit. Its also worth noting there will be no HUD or map, so youll have to find your way around using traditional discovery methods. It will probably be very easy to get lost in Damnation, but something tells me that might be part of the point. I mean, feeling like a stranger in your own country seems like a pretty compelling motif.
Aside from these distinctive features, Damnation will play like a standard sci-fi third-person shooter. In addition to the story mode, there will also be some multiplayer options as well. As you might expect, there will be the standard local co-op mode as well as several online modes that will include staples like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill. These online modes will support up to eight players and look to add some real replay value to the game.
As far as the look of the game is concerned, this one looks like it will take its sci-fi locale to the max. There will be lots of futuristic weapons at your disposal as well as insane, ultramodern vehicles. The style of the game looks very Western, but the scenery, vehicles, and even weapons have a metallic sheen about them, and the whole thing looks like a cross between The Searchers and Minority Report.
The graphics engine in Damnation is a modded version of the Unreal Engine 3, and is interesting enough because it actually came into existence as part of the Make Something Unreal contest. The winners of the contest were Blue Omega studios, and Damnation will be their first video game project. So, will this title be the big opening for this new studio? Well have to see, but from here Damnation is looking pretty good!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer