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Damnation

Preview: Damnation somersaults out of nowhere, startles old lady

The intriguing 'Make Something Unreal' tournament has already given us Red Orchestra, which transformed a bunch of serious modders into people who done a big game.

Now, it's giving filmmakers Blue Omega a chance to make their first game, based on their competition runner-up Damnation: Hell Breaks Loose. Damnation (no subtitle) is a retro-futuristic acrobatic steampunk megablast that's claiming to "take the shooter vertical". Whatever that means.

We're used to vertical play in terms of having to watch out for guys upstairs, but Damnation is promising (boldly, perhaps) to take this to the next level, being set over huge levels that "could take three hours to climb to the top, in real time".

Zoom

Videogames don't have much respect for real time though, so you'll be swinging and catapulting yourself around, scaling buildings with wall jumps, and generally using superhuman acrobatic skills to dispatch enemies with similar abilities.

Your character, Hamilton Rourke, is a veteran of the long-standing civil war that has left the game universe exhausted. He's got a love interest he'd kill for and a thirst for revenge, all of which make you wonder if Blue Omega's films ever starred Steven Seagal. He'll end up having to fight the Prescott Standard Industries (acronym obvious), who fancy nothing less than world domination.

The whole gameworld has a dusty, dirty fantasy feel to it, and in line with that, your character can use 'spirit vision' - essentially a spider-sense that lets you see the locations of your enemies.

This all sounds excellent in the imagination. The problem with insane acrobatics is that you have to remove 99 per cent of complexity to take into account the fact you're not really doing it, and still make it feel like the player's achieving something. The more insane the acrobatics, the higher that percentage.

From what we've seen so far, the whole thing feels like a cross between the gymnastics of Prince of Persia, the 360 action of Descent, the over-the-top gun-action of Devil May Cry and... erm... the wall-play of Spider-Man 3.

That's two great games, one console-orientated PC flop, and one crime against electricity - which roughly reflects the opinions in the office of how Damnation might eventually turn out. All will become clearer as the release date approaches.

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