Damnation was a very ambitious project – a steampunk, cooperative action-adventure mixing the fighting and vehicle segments of Gears of War with the area traversing of Prince of Persia. With a target set so high, of course it failed to deliver – and it failed to deliver in most ways you’d expect it to, having the quality of everything from controls to narrative and presentation be sub-par and with a bunch of bugs and design issues that really shouldn’t have been a problem in this day and age. I think the team knows of this as well, and detailing the failures thus doesn’t serve to help anyone.

Rather, I will go into what I liked about the game – the areas before the final boss really showed off the strengths of the design and was a nice build-up to a reasonably varied and interesting final fight. Climbing around the walls of Terra Verte was aesthetically pleasing and gave the same sense of advancement that the last generation’s Prince of Persia games, even though it was sometimes hard to see where to go. Finally, the steampunk setting was a little underused but had some really cool elements in certain areas.

Damnation is a good example of why so many games today are bland and uninspiring copies of what’s already out there – teams realize they aren’t capable of producing the game with all the features they want, so they cut the risky ones in order to avoid ending up with something where nothing really works, something like Damnation. The key, of course, being to have a project scope that is just right, a few really good and innovative features that the game revolves around (without losing what’s already there) or simply being a famous enough studio that you’ll be able to put in as much time as you want to finish what you started. And even then, as we’ve repeatedly seen, not all the time in the world can make a mediochre concept into an interesting game. It is hard to tell if Damnation had an interesting concept, but there are a lot more interesting questions to ask and a lot better games to play.

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Posted on Jul 08/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »