PS3 Review – Damnation

Damnation is a co-op, third-person shooter released in May of 2009. The game features steam punk world design, scantily clad females, and somehow, civil war Nazis. Sounds awesome, right? I mistakenly thought the same thing. Damnation is the first and only game developed by Blue Omega Entertainment, who will not be missed, as Damnation is a game that fails on nearly every level. It has a few good ideas, but they are far outweighed by the game’s flaws.

The story in Damnation is a convoluted mess. Damnation is set in an alternate reality where America adopted the steam engine instead of the internal combustion engine after the civil war. This leads to a giant, private military waging war on all of humanity, motorcycles that can drive on walls, and people who can use spirits to heal each other–none of which is well connected. Nothing is completely explained in Damnation, and events happen without the player really knowing why. In fact, at points, it seems like the developers decided to take something out of the story, but accidentally left it in a cutscene. For example, a tragedy befell one of the characters in the game who was only introduced about 10 minutes prior, and the game expected me to feel something for the character.

Gameplay is very rudimentary. You move from one encounter to another, with a little bit of platforming in between fighting segments. When you enter an area where there are some enemies, there is usually more than one way to approach the situation. The fighting areas are large enough that you can take out whichever enemies you want first. Once your cover is broken, though, all enemies become aware of your location, no matter where you are. You can also use “spirit vision,” which highlights all the enemies in red and allows you to more easily plan your attack.

The gameplay in Damnation is not without redeeming factors. You can play online co-op with someone throughout the entire game. If you choose to play alone, then the computer A.I. will control the other character. The computer A.I. isn’t terrible, but it’s not nearly as good as Sheva in Resident Evil 5.

Bioshock called, It wants its steampunk back

Now for the negatives. Shooting feels very imprecise and loose in the game. It doesn’t seem as if your bullets are actually connecting a lot of the time. Some weapons, such as the shotgun, can vary wildly from enemy to enemy. Sometimes I would shoot an enemy, and it would be a one hit kill, while other times the same weapon at the same distance would require two shots. The enemy A.I. is also as inconsistent as the weapons. At one point, I stood behind an enemy for almost a minute before he turned around and shot at me.

Animations are almost comically bad. Characters in cutscenes are extremely stiff and lifeless. Animations within the game are extremely chuggy, and in some cases, not there. There are half-man, half-wolf creatures that jump at you and try to melee you to death. There is an animation for when they jump up into the air, but not one for while they are flying through the air, so the creatures are just frozen, and glide toward you.