2011-03-06 12:29:26

Damnation, the word evokes thoughts of hell, biblical punishment, fallen heroes, or failed ideas. What we get instead in this title from Codemasters, is a Steampunk action shooter. First of all to any of you unaware of steampunk, it is basically the culmination of 3 things: a love for victorian era dress and appearance, a childish fondness for rube goldberg like contraptions, and the enjoyment of modern technology. So the idea is to dress in the fashions of the era with exception of the addition of technology that is modern yet is modified heavily with brass fittings and gears to appear to be some kind of more archaic version of itself. 

The steampunk of this game falls in tightly with the steampunk you might have seen if you watched Wild Wild West with Will Smith, and with some altering could even have been a movie tie in game for that movie had they come out around the same timeframe. The twist here is instead of like WWW being about a Southern Gentleman out for revenge for his war wounds from the civil war, we throw in a more modern premise of a Private Military Corporation gone rogue, all while still taking place in post Civil War America. Basically Abraham Lincoln took advantage of the steampunk creations of a corporatist and funded his research which lead to the PMC being more powerful than the US government, which the PMC then used to tyrannically control various cities around the US. Your character is some cowboy resistance fighter out to put a stop to the tyranny and restore the US back to its liberty. 

So the story has a lot of liberties it takes with your mind, but altogether it is a reasonable story for a steampunk game, there are certainly far worse premises out there(trust me). Onto gameplay, The game is equal parts cover shooter and platformer, which came as a slight suprise originally. The shooting feels pretty standard and run of the mill, but the platforming definitely was a nice suprise, as your character is able to mantle onto various surfaces and utilize his body in fairly realistic ways. The game is like a shooter mixed with elements of the prince of persia engine, you'll find yourself climbing ladders then leaping onto a railing, shimmying, then jumping up onto a girder and handwalking across it, maybe sliding down a long stretch of wire that leads to another position. The game is a virtual workout. Most of the challenges of the game are focused around the platforming component, using the shooting as barriers to keep it from being a free-running style title.

That said I think the game could've used some stronger graphical elements, characters inside elevators or just their facial expressions appear extremely wooden, also the female characters in the game are laughably underclothed for the era. other than the characters the set pieces and the weapons seemed well thought out and fun. Such as the rail spike gun, almost any game that has a train in it is required to have some kind of gun that launches spikes out of it, it's a rule out there somewhere I swear. Of course it is incredibly fun and satisfying to pin an enemy to the walls.

In addition to shooting and platforming you'll also occassionally jump onto the back of a Iron Horse, basically a steam powered motorcycle. these motocycles are primarily for fast travel between chunks of a map, but at least in one area it was opened up to a more open environment, forcing you to both steer and shoot back at people out to put a stop to you. 

Reason Rank
Start 10
Bringing Wild Wild West back? really? -3
Wooden character models uncapable of displaying emotion. -3
Female characters who apparently glue their boobs into the shirts they wear
(Otherwise the shirt would fall open and the boobs would be released to the wild) 
Weapon and set designs are well done. +3
Platforming was really well implemented here, was challenging, intuitive and rarely frustrating. +5
Final 9/10


Overall this game was pretty fun, if you can manage to stomach this much steampunk flavor in your shooter/platformer.