For many months, there was a lot of hype built around this game. Originated from a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004, it found its way to Codemasters and then into a full game form. Im not a professional reviewer so Im not bound by any rules and regulations so I'll be free in my statements.
Damnation takes place in an alternate universe, with a steampunk theme, union and confederation involvement back in the Civil War days, and an industrialist maniac hell-bent on conquering the world. You play as Hamilton Rourke, who has a past he doesnt like to remember, as he searches for his long lost love Dayden and also fights this maniac industrialist Lord Prescott.
Basically, this game had a lot of potential. However, it clears the line between a video game and interactive entertainment. Interactive entertainment was used ever since games advanced and began immersing gamers of all ages into the game with realistic or even fictional yet believable features(Next gen). Here, the level design has been implemented in such a way that you can clearly feel the ladders, pipelines, ledges were all there to just cross a game, not for people who live in that world as part of daily life or anything that makes you think you can imagine a world out of this. This game has excellent ideas and potential I repeat myself, the gameplay is pretty awesome and very near to Gears of War, without cover system but with brutality, bikes and tons of platforming. The platforming needed variety in this game and it would have been too awesome if that happened, you climb ladders, ledges, swing reversing your body to reach the upper ledge etc but most of the levels (good news to gamers they did make it 3 hours each level) throw these platforming portions at you again and again. The weapon effects are awesome with steam coming out of the guns after shooting, or the white thick line of air following a sniper rifle's bullet. They also have great variety like a railgun with full charge can result in an instant kill, a sniper rifle with a headshot means the head explodes into pieces similar to Fallout 3 etc. But the animations are poor, when you crouch and zoom your gun, your guy Mr. Rourke points 2 feet to the left of your actual crosshair position.
The visuals arent eye catching. Though the lighting effects are great and the character models are very detailed, the anti aliasing effects are pretty much null. Textures are ugly and with low pixels, which result in no link between character graphics and terrain graphics. You notice it usually in the vehicle sequences where paths after paths have thick blocks of the same ground texture similar to 10 year old games. The vehicle sequences now, you got 2 kick-ass bikes, one supporting one additional partner and the other supporting two. Each time you see a bike you know you'll be using it for quite a while and cover a good quarter of the 3 hour mark you have in an act. You got boosts like Burnout, wall runs with bikes like Hollywood fictitious movies, but there's little variety. I mean, if they had chase sequences or bike-guns etc it would have been great. You see enemies sometimes, when riding a bike, but then even if your partner shoots its pointless since they take too many bullets to die and your travelling at high speed with no reason to stop by, which means your only alternative for guilty pleasure is to run over them. And also, vehicle sequences are just in this fashion 1) Get on the bike 2) Use the boost to jump and pass long roads 3) Reach the end when road ends in front of a few set of buildings.
Performance and AI are the last two issues I have. The game performed well infact I think the pc version is by far the best. But for even normal moves sometimes the frame rate dropped. AI is poor, with people sometimes standing while you shoot at them. Your partners just rush into the battle to either prove useful or get killed. The revive system is like Gears of War even the icons and symbols for weapons and revival, except for the fact that with spirit vision you can revive them from a distance. Spirit vision is useful since you can see the location of every enemy(red) and friend(blue) in the area, which also gives Multiplayer matches a fast pace. Multiplayer matches on the other hand are enjoyable, especially if you can manage a sniper rifle and platform to the very top. Multiplayer maps are pretty neat with lots of space to hide etc but before entering a match you need to wait for an ongoing match to end, which isnt too bad though.
For their first HD game, I will say hats off to the developer for acheiving such vast levels, so many types of features like gunplay, bike riding, hordes of enemies, platforming (major keypoint for this game) etc. The marks deducted are basically for the textures, poor animations, poor AI, and lack of variety. I know one thing, 3 games have been developed by 3 different developers, in the last 1 year, using the same Unreal Engine. All 3 suffered the same issue with graphics and animations. So the engine's faults are forgiven here.
I'd give it 7/10 for a huge potential and so many achievements in the first game. Lets hope their future games shine.