It takes a certain kind of dogged perseverance to make a truly awful game.
Even the most haphazardly assembled bunch of inexperienced designers must, at some point during development, ask just one fundamental question: is this game fun?
And the answer, if they had bothered to ask, is no.
No, Blue Omega Entertainment, your game is not fun. I would have had more fun ripping off my own fingernails than play 'Damnation' for even a single second.
So, let us ask the questions that the designers should have asked themselves months before they released this abomination.
Question 1: Why does our game look so crappy?
This is truly perplexing. 'Damnation' uses the Unreal Engine 3, which is so well made and apparently so easy to code with that you can have a blind monkey banging away on a keyboard and still have the game look so good that your eyes bleed.
'Damnation', however, looks like something you'd still be mildly scornful of if it was released five years ago. The environments tear so often that it brings back fond memories of the days when 3D acceleration was still new, and a variety of other minor visual glitches accompany the poorly rendered textures.
Question 2: What the hell is that sound?
Come on people. I cannot remember the last time I played a game where the sound was so bad that you actually noticed it. This is technology that was perfected about a decade ago.
Yet most of the sound effects in 'Damnation' resemble the array of noises you'd get from putting a cat in a bin and throwing it down the stairs. The voice acting, too, stands out as being spectacularly poor and, in an industry that seems to pride itself on hiring hobo actors to do voice-overs, this is saying something.
Question 3: Who messed up the story?
The game is set in an alternate timeline where super-powered robots and weapons were somehow invented and used in the American Civil War. Of course someone got the idea of using these robots to ? wait for it ? take over the world.
This is where you come in, Hamilton Rourke, a super bad-ass hero who is going to save the day. That is, if you can drag yourself through the eight hours of torture that comprises the single player campaign.
It's not a bad idea for a story ? the bar for game plots being so low it is approaching the centre of the earth ? and it might have actually made for a cool movie. Wait, it did! The story is ripped off so blatantly from 'Wild Wild West' that one vaguely expects Will Smith to wander onto the screen at some point.
Plagiarism aside, the story is very poorly implemented. Apart from the appalling voice acting and cut scenes, the story is just never really told. You get a couple of insights here and there as to what happened and exactly why this villain is so villainous, but it all adds up to very little.
Question 4: Where is the fun?
Now all of the above could be discarded at a stroke if only 'Damnation' was fun in some way. But, as I've pointed out, it isn't.
The basic mechanics of the game is a kind of runny-jumpy-shooty combination of platforming and third-person action. The only problem is that the runny-jumpy part is both annoying and pointless, and the shooty bit is endlessly frustrating.
The AI is so bad ? so incredibly, ridiculously bad ? that you literally just have to stand still and shoot everything you see. This isn't even hard, as the enemies obligingly remain motionless while you shoot them in the face.
Unfortunately this takes quite a while, as the designers cunningly gave each enemy an endless amount of health in order to try and compensate for the lack of AI. So it takes forever to kill anything, but simply because you have to shoot it four thousand times, and not because it displays any desire to evade your bullets.
The fact that 'Damnation' turned out the way it did is a pity. There was great potential here, but it remains utterly unfulfilled. The whole mess reeks of design by committee, only there were several committees and apparently they never exchanged ideas or even met each other at all.
One gets the impression that at the end of development they just all sent their completed individual bits to someone who then proceeded to put the whole thing together with masking tape and rusty nails. And that, if you'll forgive me, is a damn shame.