Every now and then, playing an abysmally bad video game can be just as enjoyable as playing a certifiably balls-to-the-wall awesome game. Maybe it’s the masochistic glee of enduring pain, like witnessing a train wreck, realizing that each passing second worsens the carnage and mayhem. A train derailing onto a busy highway (causing a massive pileup and numerous explosions) is the best comparison one could draw to Codemaster-published and Blue Omega Entertainment-developed third-person shooter, Damnation. The game suffers a laundry list of problems so severe, how anyone could rationally think that publishing this disc-based atrocity would be a good idea boggles the mind.
To its credit, Damnation has a decent premise. The game is set in an alternate universe where America is locked in a civil war fueled by steam punk weaponry. You play as Hamilton Rourke, questing to find his lost fiancée. The story isn’t terrible — in fact it’s creative — but aside from reading a synopsis on Wikipedia, gamers won’t take the time to find out what happens. If the horrendous voice acting doesn’t make you immediately lose interest, the flawed game play and graphics will.
The graphics are awful. The character models share visual quality with very early next-gen titles. Between the lackluster effects, muddy textures, horribly inconsistent frame rate, bugs, seemingly randomly placed loading points, and persistent clipping issues, Damnation is more technically similar to a Playstation 2 or Xbox title — and not a very good one at that.
Damnation attempts to bring something new to the third-person shooter genre. Instead of being straight up action like Gears of War, it also tries to implement platforming elements a la Tomb Raider and Uncharted. Unfortunately for Damnation, it misses the mark entirely in both categories.
While Damnation gives you a nice arsenal of guns to play with, none of them work as intended. Sometimes it takes a few rifle shots to drop a bad guy, other times you’ll need half a clip before the game figures out you were shooting this entire time. Also, the AI is borderline retarded. Most of the time they’ll just stand there while you slowly chip away at their health.
The game also has this weird obsession with linear motorcycle racing stages. You man Rourke’s ugly motorcycle and barrel through a generic canyon. Periodically enemies pop out of nowhere to try and shoot you, but you’ll be too bored or careless to bother fighting back. The chances of falling asleep during these monotonous segments are depressingly high.
Platforming tries to break up the tedious shooting and motorcycling. In between gun play segments (and sometimes frustratingly in the middle of them) you will jump over bottomless chasms, shimmy across ledges, and leap from one precarious hand hold on a canyon wall to the next. Surprisingly, this isn’t too terrible. Unlike everything else, it isn’t ridden with mysterious glitches and actually works. However, no one will buy the game for its platforming, which is unfortunate since it’s the only aspect that Damnation remotely executes well.
Damnation is probably the worst game of 2009. There’s nothing good about it. Sure the platforming mechanics don’t suck, but that’s like letting someone stab you in the eye to get a $0.99 Popsicle — it’s just not worth it. From the bad voice acting to the bland motorcycle stages to the flawed gun play, everything about Damnation just flat out blows.