E3 08: Damnation is damned interesting

Codemasters gave us a closer look at Damnation, a game that developer Blue Omega claims is taking shooters vertical. It throws some of the conventions of shooters out the window (sometimes literally!) with the freedom of choice. Players can use whatever method they’d like to make it through a level, though they will often find themselves moving up instead of forward.

Players become Captain Hamilton Rourke, a member of the resistance force called the Peacekeepers. The country in this game is in a complete state of chaos after a civil war, and the Peacekeepers are out to stop a dictator from taking over after this war.

The vertical focus in Damnation was apparent from the beginning of our walkthrough. Players aren’t just running and gunning; they’re given acrobatic skills that enable them to overcome obstacles in different ways. In a typical shooter, a locked door means that you either need to find a key or take another path. In Damnation, you could opt to just jump out of the window next to this locked door to proceed. This type of level design seems to make more logical sense, and I’m told that the entire game presents players with this type of freedom to decide how to proceed.  

Hit the jump to read more on Damnation.

While this is a shooter first and foremost, players can jump to higher platforms and hang off ledges, scaling buildings for tactical advantage. Flips and jumps, swinging and sliding eventually lead you to higher ground, which makes for a more fast-paced and involved game than your typical shooter would.

Rocket launchers, hand guns, machine guns, and all the other types of weapons you’d expect to see in a shooter are in Damnation. But they do have a sort of steam-powered or mechanized twist to them. There’s a three-barreled shotgun and Tommy gun-ish machine gun in the mix.

The whole game seemed to be set in a world where technology was a bit older, or maybe evolved in a different way. This worked for the weapons, but the overall look of the game seemed like a strange mix of western and old-tech imagery. The characters themselves were equally odd.

In the level I saw, the scale was incredibly vast. The draw distance was so far that at just about any time, you could turn and see where you started as well as where you eventually need to end up, and it all looked great. The vastness reminded me of Ico or Shadow of the Colossus.

Even with only seeing one level, it didn’t take long to see Blue Omega’s vision for Damnation. It’s a fresh and fast-paced take on shooters, and I hope that we get to see more of it soon.

They tell us that we can expect a Holiday 2008 release on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. 

Dale North