Devastation - PC - Review
Recently, I was fortunate enough to preview Arush Software’s newest FPS title, Devastation. Even with only four levels to play on, I immediately fell in love with it and was waiting for the finished result. Well, the day that the full version came out to me in the mail, you’d have thought I was 10 years old on Christmas morning all over again. I rushed upstairs, turned on the PC and tossed Devastation in … not to be heard from by my family for a few hours. So, was the finished result good? Read on friends … read on.
Devastation takes place in a nightmarish world where the world is ruled by fear, torture, and death under the iron fist and Pacification Squads of the Grathius Corporation. Major cities have been turned into rubble-strewn war zones … and vicious gangs of anarchist individuals now rule the slums and streets. Amongst all of the chaos and destruction, small pockets of resistance fighters are springing up to try and put an end to the oppressive and evil dictatorship … and this is where you come in. You control an Eminem look alike named Flynn Haskell. Your objective is not to win freestyle rap battles or make censors angry however … instead it is to use every destructive weapon and a team of roughneck freedom fighters to take out Grathius and it’s squad of killers for good.
On the surface, Devastation is your typical FPS title with typical FPS controls. Run, strafe, shoot, jump … it’s all there and executed smoothly. If you’ve played any of the 50,000 FPS titles out there, you shouldn’t have much of a problem getting started and diving in. The differences begin subtly … then begin showing up a little more often as you progress through the massive levels and stages completing a pretty deep and entertaining story.
OK … being an FPS, we need weapons … lots of weapons ... and they’re in there. Rifles? Check. Uzis? Check. Machine guns? Check. You can even pick up extras of some weapon types and use one in each hand. So what’s new about all of this? For one, a beer bottle lying around makes a good weapon if you have nothing else. You can pick it up, smash it on a wall or an enemy’s head and viola … a handy slashing tool. Also, Devastation not only believes in using a combat knife as a melee weapon. If you need to kill an enemy quietly, hitting the alternate fire button will cause Flynn to cleverly flip the knife around and grasp the blade … then silently fling it at your opponent killing him in one shot and alerting no one. It is not only a neat idea … but it’s neat to watch too. Add in some other oddities like baseball bats, 2x4s, and even a little rat outfitted with a camera and surgically equipped with explosives … and you’ve got a recipe for a nasty, enjoyable time.
On the gameplay side, Devastation stays true to its FPS calling by offering tons of gun blazing action, killing, and flying bodies or body parts. While this is good news for the trigger-happy action fan, it also adds in some other elements as well such as computer hacking and having to cut locks off of fences in order to progress. In addition, it also throws in some sneaking around and stealth tactics by giving you the ability to get right up on an unsuspecting enemy and do things like bashing them over the head unnoticed. Since most of the things in the environment are interactive, you can also pick up and throw an object in the environment (trash, bottles, cans, cups, etc.) to distract an opponent so you can come up behind them and kill them either quietly or quickly … or both. If confronted by a seemingly impossible situation which leaves you dead constantly … think about it for a moment. There’s usually a better way there, sometimes a pretty creative one at that.
Secondly, there’s actually two different ways that a single player can play Devastation. While there are three different difficulty settings, there are also two different game modes. The first is arcade, which is a much faster paced and constant action style of gameplay … while the second is simulation. In my opinion, arcade mode was a good way to get going and really learn the ropes to playing while simulation provided the more challenging but strategic play element. Simulation not only makes it more realistic from an overall standpoint in terms of damage and having to actually pick up items (rather than just running over them), but also adds in friendly fire damage and things which make you move slower and exercise a bit more caution.
Lastly, lets look at the overall team aspect of the game here. Flynn is the main man … that much is true, but what about his comrades who are there to help him? Well, they don’t just take a back seat and let him do all the work. They will follow him around and will act on simple commands like follow (self explanatory), attack all enemies in an area, or defend … which will send them running ahead of you to cover you and deal some death to unfortunate Pac Squad bad guys who happen to get in the way. It provides something a little more than “you vs. the world”, and each character’s individual personality really comes out as the game progresses.
Now, on the downside to Devastation is an unfortunate little glitch known as “bad AI” which makes some little cameo appearances here and there. Oh yes … we’ve all heard about and seen it in action and unfortunately we’ve all had to deal with it from time to time. Now to be fair, this was not an all the time thing, but happened too frequently to be ignored. There were a couple of moments where I would set off an alarm and a bad guy would just stand there about 3 feet away from me and act like nothing was going on. Other times, I would open fire on someone only to have them duck down and walk back and forth like a shooting gallery duck, not returning one round. As the difficulty went up, they seemed to move faster and this problem didn’t occur as much … but like I said it was still present.
Graphically, one word came to mind up front … amazing. From the opening scene of a burning and partially destroyed lab with some ultra realistic fire and smoke effects complete with falling and twisting debris to a grungy, dingy, and really nasty looking insane asylum which almost made me want to wash off when done playing … there was nothing there that ever failed to impress me. The lighting and weapon effects were absolute top quality, and while water surfaces weren’t the best I’ve seen … going below the surface revealed some really detailed murky filth penetrated by moving shafts of light from the sun above. The developers also spared no expense on the blood and gore end of the spectrum here either, and enemies will crumple when killed and blood will stain the walls, floors, or even your computer screen if you happen to get hit with backsplash from a nearby foe that you just assaulted. The only thing that I would have liked to see would have been a “Geo – Mod” thing like THQ did with Red Faction since the environment doesn’t take damage … but you can’t have everything I guess.
Soundwise, I can’t really say that there was anything here that I wasn’t impressed with either. The guns all had a nice thudding or cracking sound of reports (and a patch coming to make them even better and louder … WOOHOO), and the music had a unique little Chinese / techno mix thing going on which was kind of cool. The voiceovers were done well, and each character had their own little likeness that played out in their voice and made them stand apart from the other members of your team. To sum it up, I even scared my wife one night while I was playing and fired off a sniper rifle with the volume up too loud. I woke her up, and she opened the door and yelled at me because she thought a real gun just went off. If that doesn’t give you some indication of what you’re in for with a 5.1 surround … I don’t know what will.
Overall, Devastation is a game that FPS and action fans such as myself get immersed into quickly. It’s got a good story, some neat characters, some nifty sneaking around stuff, team based gameplay, tons of explosions and weapons, and it’s all wrapped up in one of the prettiest little graphics packages I’ve seen in a while. I’ve played Unreal II, and personally I enjoyed Devastation a lot better and got more out of it. Even the periodically stupid AI won’t stop you from having a blast with Devastation, so get ready for one heck of a dismal, violent ride through a futuristic hell. As a warning to parents … do NOT let kids near this game. Tons of blood, gore, and some of the levels were actually a little scary and some moments were tense and sometimes frightening due to things popping out or loud noises going off due to an explosion. For me though all I can say is great job Arush. Great job, and thanks for one heck of a good game.
Controls follow a simple FPS style that should make it simple for any veteran to get right into and go. In addition, some neat extras like downloading access codes, stealth, and hacking through fence locks added to the game. There’s two different modes to play on, depending on how realistic or arcadey you want it, and even after beating it once I still wanted to go back and play it again. There’s also a good selection of destructive and unique weapons to choose from, and the team based gameplay … while not as deep as Tom Clancy games … was enjoyable and a nifty add on. The AI could be a little dull witted at times, but it seemed to get better as the difficulty was increased.
The environments are well detailed almost to the point of looking like a picture. The weapon, smoke, and lighting effects were also extremely impressive and cut scenes weren’t too frequent but added to the story. In addition, there was also a good mix of levels and level design … all of which were done well. The blood from enemies will spot and stain the environment, and some will even splash onto the screen if you are standing too close. Some extras like environment damage would have been nice, but it didn’t take away from the overall experience by not being there either.
Man … there was some great sounds here (and it only gets better with a new patch on the way). The snaps and thuds of various weapons going off was great, and will probably scare the neighbors if you happen to turn it up too loud. The music and voiceovers were also done well without being too canned or scripted.
There are two modes, one more arcade and one more realistic depending on how hard you want to make it. In addition, each one also contains three different difficulty settings.
Take an oppressive corporation plot similar to Red Faction, the violence of Blood II, add in a ton of weapons, huge levels, gorgeous graphics, and great sound and you’ve got Devastation. Not only was it a blast to play, but I had a hard time finding something seriously wrong even trying to nitpick.
What can make a single player game fun can be just as fun playing online. If you get into online titles, Devastation provides your typical deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. In addition, it also adds in a style called “Territories” which has two opposing teams trying to download entrance codes to their opponent’s base … blow up their enemies spawn point … then kill each other off in last man standing style. Good stuff!
For you FPS fans out there, I can’t see many reasons that you wouldn’t enjoy Devastation. While it remains true to the overall style, it adds in enough to make it unique in it’s own right. Even with a few goofy AI issues, it’s not frequent or annoying enough to cause you to have a problem with it. While there is obviously and end, I immediately went back in and played it over again on a different setting and difficulty, and look forward to more people getting it to get online. Arush and Groove did a great job here … and thanks again for the great game guys.