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Genre: Action


PC Preview - 'Devastation'

by Chris "Fozz" Breci on March 6, 2003 @ 1:35 a.m. PST

Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Arush Entertainment/Groove Games
Developer: Digitalo Studios
Release Date: 3/25/03

Devastation is set on the planet Earth in a future where large, powerful, and corporations rule the streets and the government. Police forces known as “Pacifist Squads” are littered throughout the streets terrorizing anyone they dislike. You are the only hope for freedom from these economical tyrants as the leader of a small resistance group composed of the roughest and toughest gang members, mercenaries, and ex-military members. Your mission is to travel around the globe to round up the meanest individuals across the planet to gather your forces and to overthrow the mindless corporate system.

The majority of the talk about this game centers on the fact that Devastation uses the unreal II engine, which as many of you may know is one of the most graphically enhanced games at this point in time and has a lot of room to work with for a game engine. Devastation plays more like it’s running on the Unreal I engine with some of the textures of the environments and the sketchy gunplay. This game seemed to be rather buggy, but it is expected to have its fair share of bugs seeing as it is a press preview.

Devastation has two single player modes to play: arcade and simulation. In arcade mode it’s more of a run and gun situation that feels much like a death match sort of experience with little thought involved. Arcade is the mode you would play if you were on the phone only half paying attention. In the arcade mode, the AI is rather dull and behaves much like a small ape with Down syndrome. Many times you will see your AI counterparts running full force while facing a wall or standing there while getting blasted and snap out of it just out of the blue as if they were in deep thought about something. Simulation mode is where the game gets to be fun and exciting, including things like strategy and slightly more intelligent artificial intelligence.

A lot of the game centers on a new form of technology that allows rebuilding a person gene by gene and recomposing their body. Instead of dying in Devastation you are re-incarnated by this machine. In several stages, the machinery is broken and it is your mission to over take the enemy spawn machine.

Devastation gives the player a huge arsenal of weapons to choose from, up to and including sniper rifles, laser rifles, akimbo .45’s, combat shotguns with buckshot or slug thrower action, m16 assault rifles, swords, and knives. Out of all of these neat weapons you also have a weapon that starts the level with you no matter how much you pick out, and that is the explosive rat. That is correct, you are armed with a mechanical rat that is used to get through small areas and detonate in otherwise hard to reach locations. You can also acquire more melee weapons in the levels by picking up blunt objects that could be swung or thrown at a person. You can pick up a bottle, break it over someone’s head then slash them with the broken remains and throw the rest at another enemy.

The gunplay feels very sporadic among the characters. While you do have a plethora of guns to choose from, no matter which one you pick it all feels the same when it comes to battle. There is not much to differentiate one battle from another, while no matter which gun you use or which situation you are in the battle always happens the same way. As boring as the battles can get, I feel the way Devastation handles aim during running or movement is one of the better ways I’ve ever seen. Instead of hindering you completely helpless in aiming while moving and making one spray and pray. Devastation merely dims your crosshair more and more as you move faster and faster. Many of the objects that lie in the street at your feet can be moved or kicked and will make noise.

The AI in this preview build does not react to the noise but the official Devastation website announced that with the final build the enemies and allies alike will react to noise and from which direction it came. As for this preview, however, it has not been implemented. There have been many times when I have found the artificial intelligence to fall short of just that; intelligence.

Although Devastation runs on the Unreal II engine, it doesn’t seem to be sporting all the wicked graphic effects that Unreal II is all about. Maxing out the Devastation demo on a top of the line graphics card still left no impression on me. The textures look really bland and flat. Each character really follows your boring post-apocalyptic rebellion crew stereotype. There are the club kids, the angry bald black dude with a strand of bullets around his shoulder, and the cool suave guy with black sunglasses, and the enemies are all in gargantuan SWAT gear with the super large Oakland Raiders looking helmet on. These over used characters are really overdone with Devastation and seem to lack depth. The people themselves look like the skin is a paper shell that is wrapped around a flat model. When the bullets start flying and burying themselves in the bodies of the enemies Devastation shows off a lame splat of blood that looks more like a picture of blood spatter faded against the background of a body. When the body falls it looks like a lifeless plastic dummy is falling to the ground. It looks as though the developers forgot to take into consideration that a head might jerk back or a body would slightly turn from a gunshot. However in the full version, we have been promised by the official Devastation website to see particle blood effects. In this early build, however, they are absent.

Multiplayer will be available in the final version, but is not included in this demo. It allows you to go all the way by choosing your character and setting your name but eliminates the option to connect to servers or make one yourself.

Devastation has a lot more bark than it actually bites. Unless the full version fills into the boots that the developers are making out for it, this title is going to be one of the ones that resides on the back shelf and collects dust. The developers have stated many things such as next generation graphics, particle blood effects, perky and intelligent AI, and lifelike body falling, but all of these things seem to be gone and the demo is a ghost town if you’re looking for effects. The fact is that the demo really doesn’t show much of the game except what it would look like minus the cool. However if the developers deliver on all of their promises for the full version this should be a solid game.

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