Your name is Roarke, and you've been give the task of dealing with an evil corporation with your partner Yakecan, thus saving the New American world from Damnation. Previews showed us vertical action, gun fights, and daring feats both in vehicles and on rooftops. Enticing to the Co-op world, Codemasters appeared to cover a wide variety of gameplay elements, we couldn't wait to get our hands on this one. But does Damnation do the Steampunk brand justice, or does Damnation live up to the definition of the word?
If you were to stumble upon a trailer, or posters for Damnation, you'd likely think you were in for a treat. Vast, beautiful landscapes and a formidable looking hero duo, with just enough flare from the Steampunk art style to perk up many hopes. Judging books by covers is frowned upon at an early age, and yet we never seem to learn. Upon actually picking up this game, we quickly discovered how much effort went into creating the extensive vertically explorable world, and how neglected everything else was.
The first negative point we noticed was the forced voice acting, which probably comes from working with a shallow script. Any depth that may have been in this story was lost in the dialog, but from what I gathered while playing: The evil Prescott corporation is doing some bad things in the mining town of "Boomtown". The overhead speakers in some of the mining areas coax workers to work harder in exchange for a serum that makes them stronger, faster, and more retarded than the average bear. Had I not experienced the single player, I'd have assumed the Serum was responsible for how poorly the enemies responded to my presence, rather than the terrible AI.
For the record, your partner Yakecan, has some serious issues if left on her own. The AI was so atrocious, she wasn't even around half the time, then would appear when I hit an (already cleared) area. The one thing co-op does for sure, is eliminate your partners special needs program. Unfortunately with all the glitches we experienced in the game, having a second player simply means discovering new ways to get stuck in walls, fall through bridges, or even completely break the game as my Co-op partner Arttemis and I managed to do.
By the end of Act 2, we had managed to clear out an area with a few levers. In the spirit of Co-op, each of us hit 2 of the 4 levers. Unfortunately, the game didn't agree with that one bit, and we were left with completed objectives, and could not continue the game. Though, to be honest, without a map or guide markers of any kind, the direction given in this game was slim to none. Eventually you're given a spirit power, which highlights allies and enemies in an area. This will be your only guide in the sense that: If there are enemies there, you haven't been there yet.
While exploring the ground level of any area, you will quickly notice that there is always something above you to explore. This aspect was highly appealing to me, until I tried it out. The climbing and jumping controls were well laid out at all, and were unchangable. Instead of just pressing one button to jump and climb, as games like Assassins Creed did well, you'd jump to an area, then dangle like an idiot until you pressed another button to prep for climbing further. The sheer size of everything was breathtaking, and I would have enjoyed the game extensively if even the climbing had felt complete in the slightest.
Being set in steampunk style mining towns that absolutely screamed Wild West in design, the gunplay was another intriguing aspect. As is, its also another aspect that falls short of the finish line by a few yards. Targetting was a near nightmare, when spastic serum fueled bad guys jittered around the screen (intentionally or glitchy-otherwise) with absolutely no targetting assistance at all. The "Cover system" is only such by name, as none of the playable characters can actually attach to obstacles at all. Should you crouch behind a barricade, you are still completely worthless since you have no way of shooting over or around the "cover" at all.
One surprisingly fun aspect was actually the driving sections. This type of gameplay is rarely that much fun, but rather a necessary task to get from place to place in other games. Fortunately, speeding through caverns and towns, or flipping over rocks using a monster steampunk motorcycle was surprisingly fun. Co-op in this section meant the passenger character was able to shoot off the back of the bike - which was sadly worse than the normal shooting aspect of the game, but still a nice thought.
Damnation fell short in nearly every aspect of any playable game, and co-op barely makes the game enjoyable by making two people suffer similarly. With so many amazing features that felt more unfinished than anything I've played in a while, Damnation should only be played with caution, and perhaps an adult beverage or two.