The best thing about going to E3 are the little surprises - games you either didn't know about or hadn't paid attention to that simply knock you off your feet. Blue Omega Games' Damnation is just that sort of game. Due to be published by Codemasters for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, Damnation combines third-person shooting with acrobatics in a unique steampunk setting to create a game that has amazing potential, both online and off.
Damnation takes place in an alternate early 20th century U.S. where the Civil War has been raging for decades. Now a wealthy industrialist is hatching a plan to wipe out both sides of the conflict, and it's up to your character and his teammates to stop the bastard from recreating the country in his own twisted image.
I actually got to play through a bit of a level of the game with Blue Omega's Jacob Minkoff and Richard Gilbert guiding me through. The level starts with the main character and a couple of AI teammates (one of which can be played by a friend for co-op action) tasked with destroying a far off bridge before the enemy forces can cross, decimating a small, strategically located town. The only problem? The bridge spans the middle of a large chasm, which you just happen to be standing on the side of.
Luckily, Damnation's gameplay is all about verticality and finding your own path. Mine involves an elevator that takes us down to some ruins, which we have to cross in order to make it to the bridge. Enemy-filled ruins. Yum. It starts off as a standard shooting affair, firing my pistols at the bad guys and trying to stay under cover, but if you take things a bit differently...
For instance, how many times have you played a shoot where they place an enemy atop a turret or something and you are forced to shoot him from far off? What if you could run to the turret, grab a ledge, flip yourself up and then take his gun to get into some of the sniping fun yourself? Once again, Damnation is about vertical movement. Sure, you can just approach combat as if it were a standard 3rd person shooter, but why limit yourself when you can jump off walls, climb up ledges, and scurry up ladders?
Fighting my way across the ruins, I stopped and took a look behind me, seeing several other paths I could have taken, already planning out my route for my next play through. Blue Omega claims that if you were to explore all the different options you could take to navigate the levels you could squeeze out upwards of three hours gameplay from each one.
I know we've seen games that combine platforming and shooting in the past, but Damnation just feels good. Maybe it's the gritty steampunk setting, or the cool way your character grabs a ledge, kicks off the wall and flips himself up to where he's standing on it. Maybe it's just the feeling I get that instead of just making the title a combination of two gameplay types, Blue Omega is creating a title in which either element could stand on its own but together brings things to a whole new level. Players will be creating their own play style as they progress through the game, which should make for very interesting and unpredictable online multiplayer down the line.
Blue Omega have got the hook in my mouth with Damnation, but can they get me into the boat, skin me alive, fillet me and serve me with white wine at a dinner party? Am I far too tired to be allowed to dabble in analogies right now? Damn straight I am. Just keep an eye on the game, okay?