Damnation Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Damnation box art
System: X360, PS3, 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
Shooting Up and Down…Literally
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 screenshot

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, it’s 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.

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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 can’t 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.

Damnation screenshot

But make no mistake, Hamilton Rourke is no ordinary cowboy. Rourke has the uncanny ability to see people’s spirit auras and can determine whether they are friend or foe by holstering his weapon and putting his fingertips on his temples. If you’re 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 Assassin’s Creed, although we won’t know how exactly this one will work yet, so I wouldn’t 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.

Damnation screenshot

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 Damnation’s up-and-down nature. Developers have said that Damnation’s level design really tries to focus on exploration, and each level will have multiple routes and several ways to exit. It’s also worth noting there will be no HUD or map, so you’ll 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? We’ll have to see, but from here Damnation is looking pretty good!

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer


Game Features:

  • Evolving the shooter genre with its unique and exhilarating combination of fluid action and combat, Damnation will feature huge, open environments, frenetic combat, daredevil acrobatics, and high-octane vehicle-based stunts.
  • Billed as a ‘shooter gone vertical,’ and visually inspired by iconic elements of American history, these massive streaming landscapes will form the battlegrounds for a post-industrial conflict between humanity and an unstoppable arms dealer hell-bent on total world domination.
  • Players will be able to choose their own paths and navigate the world by performing daredevil feats on the edge of human ability.
  • However, players aren’t the only ones with mind-blowing acrobatic skills; intelligent enemies will give chase and engage players in frantic gun fights and attacks that can come from any direction – in Damnation’s world there’s no safe place to hide.


  • Screenshots / Images
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