Codemasters firing up Damnation

Publisher partnering with Make Something Unreal winner Blue Omega on a reportedly steampunk alternate-history, open-world action adventure for the PS3, 360, and PC.

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Codemasters is most famous in the US for publishing the DiRT series of rally racers, which featured the name and likeness of the late Colin McRae. However, the Britain-based publisher has a presence in other genres as well, such as the first-person shooter Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, which imagines an alternate history where the Nazis conquer Europe--and invade the US.

Now, it appears Codemasters is returning to the alternate history well for a much more radical title. Today, the publisher announced Damnation, a "shooter gone vertical" that will feature acrobatic-oriented gameplay focused on vehicular combat in "huge open environments." Said vehicles will include agile motorcycles and slower, armored means of conveyance.

Officially, Codemasters is being cagey about the story of Damnation, saying only its "epic" plotline will feature a hero named Rourke leading an "ensemble" of characters. It will concern a "postindustrial conflict between humanity and an unstoppable arms dealer" and be set against "iconic elements of American history," according to the publisher.

Unofficially, several online outlets have published details about Damnation not contained in the official announcement. According to WorthPlaying, the game has a hybrid viewpoint, shifting from a Halo-like first-person view during gun battles to a third-person view during puzzle-oriented platforming levels, which the site compared to those in God of War.

Story-wise, the game subscribes to the steampunk pantheon of science fiction, which envisions rapid industrialization bringing 20th Century innovations into the 19th Century. In Damnation, this technological acceleration is precipitated by an alternate US Civil War, which rages for decades into the early 1900s. As a result, the natural and industrial resources of the East Coast are exhausted, forcing the Union and Confederacy to go west in search of new war supplies. There, they encounter said arms dealer, whose arsenal includes a steam-powered giant robot.

Damnation is being developed by Annapolis, Maryland-based studio Blue Omega, which won Epic Games' Make Something Unreal competition with the prototype of the game. It is currently set for release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in late 2008.

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