previews\ May 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Damnation - 360 - Preview

Originally conceived as a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004 (it was entered in the “Make Something Unreal” contest put on by Epic Games and came in second place), Damnation is a steampunk-styled western staged in an alternate history of the United States. At the start of the twentieth century, the nation is still embroiled in the Civil War, which has now spanned several decades, and hindered certain technological advances. Whereas electricity would have been seeing wide adoption at this time, steam has maintained its position as the power-provider of choice.

The preview build sent over by Codemasters displayed an area where the character and his group of cowboy comrades are trying to work their way up a mineshaft littered with enemies. The preview build gave a good indication of what to expect from the game’s weaponry and gameplay.

Damnation Xbox 360 screenshots

Whereas similar action games like Gears of War use a pretty extensive cover system, Damnation simply requires you to press the B button to duck and avoid gunfire. Unfortunately, this also means that popping out of cover to shoot at enemies requires a push of the button before you can do so, and advanced moves like blind fire aren’t possible.

While the cover system isn’t particularly deep, the game does give you plenty of ways to get around. Your character is a lot more nimble than Marcus Fenix and crew, allowing you to jump, dodge, and climb across ropes in order to get around the environment. The shooter has a definite vertical feel, as you’ll spend a sizable chunk of your time climbing up ladders in order to get to higher surfaces.

The gunplay is fairly barebones, as you’ll have standard means of getting rid of your enemies, including revolvers, shotguns, sniper rifles, and so on. The shooting controls work as they do in any number of shooters, allowing you to aim and shoot from the hip.

As you could imagine, the game utilizes the Unreal Engine 3, and the aesthetic is quite similar to other games that use it. The environments have a distinct saturated look to them, but are rife with tons of details. The character models don’t really pack the same detailed punch as those in Gears of War, but still sport the same grizzled, square-jawed, muscle-bound design type. The weaponry is pretty standard fare, but still sports a nice steampunk cowboy touch.

Damnation has some flaws, but the preview build could only provide a brief taste of what the final game should yield. Look for more on Damnation’s decidedly different take on the western genre later this month.

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