Steampunk, a genre you rarely see outside its own niche-borders, but which is making quite an appearance lately. In recent years we’ve seen a number of movies and comics that introduce this genre. Some examples are the movies The Golden Compass and Steamboy, or the comics Empire, Hauteville House and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of course.
In many of these it’s all about an alternative history where almost modern-day looking machines still work on steam. Also Damnation takes us through such an alternate history, in this case that of America. Let’s see whether we can blow off some steam!
When we got to see the first images of Damnation we were baffled. A rarely seen environment, a storyline that immediately looked interesting and new gameplay elements under the term “vertical gameplay”. This couldn’t go wrong and certainly not in the hands of Codemasters, a publisher who tries not to put too much garbage on the market. However, we were equally baffled when we softly penetrated our PS3 with the Damnation disc.
Just like a small child we immediately want to start playing new titles, but after the intro I started doubting. Is this a Playstation3 game? You can’t avoid the thought as the graphics look to have come from the previous generation consoles. Gameplay is still more important to us than graphics of course, but this was really a disappointment. “Ok”, you think, “Let’s hang in there, things can only improve”. Or not?
To immediately put the record straight… the gameplay sucks monkeyballs! The promised vertical gameplay is comparable with doing simple jumps, hanging on edges and slinging on object… just like we know from the first Tomb Raider. Only that that ten year old title had it better worked out. The camera makes jumping completely inaccurate and gaming becomes a trial&error session here with which you can fry your nerves.
The weapons have a similar faith. A full clip is necessary to kill a hostile, even on the easiest difficulty level. Next to that you never get a feeling of satisfaction when firing the heavy-looking guns. A simple firecracker that you can win at a local carnival has more punch than this. Hell, crew member Rian can produce more impressive sounds from his thin behind.
It’s of no use to spoil more words on this review. It’s utter crap. Presumably Codemasters threw this title onto the market after they noticed Blue Omega kept failing. In other words a simple company decision to cut the losses and try to make a buck from the meagre result.
Luckily there’s one positive note to be said about this game! The box art looks truly amzain and maybe the interest gamers showed in the setting will drive other devs that Steampunk or other original settings are viable. Nonetheless, do your fellow gamer a favor if you see this title in your local game shop: hide it behind some other top title or throw it in the bargain bin!