Damnation: Hell Breaks Loose

Helpful Hints ... and more...

There aren't a lot of tactics involved where the enemy AI is concerned - once they spot you, it's mostly a mad dash towards you to bash your brains out. The more interesting fights come where the level designers have placed rifle wielding baddies on high ground and a few grunts to keep you hopping down below. There are only a handful of ambushes... something I'd like to see a bit more of. One part I really enjoyed was sneaking up on your unsuspecting victims to overhear their sometimes humorous (and colorful) conversations before I laid waste to them. It adds a bit of polish and personalization to the overall experience. In some cases, you are presented with the opportunity to sneak past the otherwise occupied soldiers and prisoners to continue your quest in peace. In all cases, strategic Spirit Walking adds a great dimension to the game.

The enemy models are a mixed bag. They move a little jerkily, but are detailed, though a tad crude. The Automen, the robots manufactured for the war, are very creatively envisioned. I love the low-tech and the flapping vents that mimic a heart beat.

The level design is mostly very good. It is almost always clear where you are to go next and the pre-level "fly-throughs" help quite a bit in this department. In some cases, you are presented with a pop-up tip to introduce a new type of puzzle. There isn't a great variety in design - it's mostly wood, steel, and rock with evening skyboxes and fall foliage scattered about. What does make the levels interesting are the locations - high atop ridges, on top of a prison wall, underground caverns, and in junk-littered clearings. The ability to see "next-level" landmarks from your current level's skybox gives the game a real sense of continuity and lends a touch of professionalism.

Throughout your mission you will encounter a number of different objectives to accomplish. Sure, there's a lot of flipping switches, but at least the puzzles are varied. Mostly you'll be using third person to accomplish the puzzles and to navigate as your field of vision is much greater than in weapons mode. Only a few of the puzzles were very difficult, something I'd like to see expanded upon in the full version.

What is all of this talk about "full version" you say? Well, Damnation is essentially a demo for a full game - and as such it falls short as a full modification. It's short and sweet with an "ending" that hints at even more interesting twists. A few hours of singleplayer fun is what you'll get here. The Blue Omega team is, understandably, using the Make Something Unreal Contest to get its foot into the videogame industry. I'd say they're off to a good start. There's some polishing to do - I'd like to see a greater variety in enemy combatant models, several more weapons, a little more variety in level design, and a few more scripted events. Basically, what I'm saying is that I want more. But that's more or less what they were out to do, isn't it?

As an Unreal Tournament 2004 modification, I can't help but recommend that you immediately download Damnation. Understand that you are getting a singleplayer alpha demo of a full game - albeit a very promising and entertaining one. There's really nothing else like it.