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Devastation
Review by: Jared Black
Developer: Digitalo Studios
Publisher: ARUSH Entertainment
# of Players: 1-8
Genre: Shooter
ESRB: Mature
Online: Yes
Date Posted: 9-18-03

System Requirements:

Pentium III 700 MHz (1.0 GHz recommended)
256MB RAM
8x CD-ROM drive
1 GB hard disk space
Windows XP/2000/ME/98
3D video card with T&L and 32 MB VRAM
33.6 Kbps or faster modem (Broadband recommended)

Several franchises have attempted to meld squad-tactics with FPS action, but by far the most successful of these is the Rainbow Six series. Rather than go that route, Digitalo and Arush Entertainment decided to take Devastation the other way by focusing more on the action and less on the strategy and planning. The result is a fun little FPS with plenty of action, but plenty of frustration as well.

Devastation features yet another “rebel group vs. Evil Corp.” storyline, this time pitting The Resistance versus Grathius Corporation and it’s Pacification Squads. Grathius has outlawed technology and “imposed corporate will on society”, causing everything to degrade into chaos. This is the first area where Devastation fails, as the storyline is about as generic as they come. It isn’t told that well either, as between-level cutscenes are generally weak and there are plot holes all over the place. What happened to the government exactly? Why aren’t there any citizens in all of these rural areas we’re fighting in? I could ask questions like these for several more paragraphs. Naturally storyline can often take a backseat to the action in FPS titles, so the plot holes could be overlooked pretty easily if not for the fact that Devastation touts itself as being “story-driven”.

Devastation’s other major problem lies in character A.I., which is bad on both sides of the fight. For the enemy, it often means that soldiers will stand in wide-open areas and slowly fire at the player’s troops. Enemies will retreat and find a tactical advantage on occasion, but just as often they’ll run right up to the player. For the player, it means that his/her teammates quickly become a chore to manage and direct. Teammates frequently get lost and confused in the game’s winding urban environments, often forcing the player to backtrack considerably to find them. When they do manage to keep up, CPU-controlled teammates often run right in front of oncoming fire, including turrets that can quickly mow them down. Of course, once any one of them dies the mission’s a failure…so one can imagine how this becomes frustrating fairly quickly. The controlling menu is simple enough to use (the player can command single members or the entire group at once), but a more robust one would’ve been nice.

Graphically, Devastation is spectacular. The environments are very nicely detailed, all sporting a gritty “near future” look that augments the gory gameplay well. Grathius Corp. has a ubiquitous presence everywhere, with posters, company logos, and other similar paraphernalia throughout the levels. Really, the graphic style reminds me of Red Faction II more than anything else. An outstanding amount of trash litters the landscape, most of it responding by bouncing around when kicked/bumped. Many objects in the environment can be used to hide behind, but will respond appropriately whenever shot (ex: stacked boxes shot one at a time). Character models are merely average, but that’s understandable given the level of detail found in the environment. Their gory deaths look good though; generally representing the area they were shot in with appropriate animation and blood spew.

Weapons sound true to life, except for a few that have rather average sound effects. Some reviewers have complained about Devastation’s mediocre weapon sounds, but since I mistakenly patched my game before playing I cannot say whether they’ve been improved or not. I would take the time to re-install the game and test them, but come on…it isn’t that hard to download and apply a patch and the game leads the player right to the patch’s location. If the weapons sounds bug you, get the patch. Simple as that. The rest of the sound effects sound good enough, with breaking glass, various object sounds, and even a few environmental sounds in the mix. The voice acting sounds pretty good too, and the dialogue is decent enough.

-- Jared Black was devastated by how dumb his CPU-teammates could be.

Highs:

  • Gorgeous environments that maintain a lot of variety while still retaining a consistent look.
  • Plenty of interactive things, even if the physics for them is somewhat wonky.
  • 40+ weapons and 32 levels spread out over four distinctive areas give the game plenty of depth.
Lows:
  • Barely competent teammate A.I. that frequently gets lost and/or confused, only following the player’s orders after much coaxing.
  • Multiplayer is pretty standard, but I could only find three other people to play against the weekend day I played. Granted it’s been a few months since the game’s release, but still that’s not exactly a thriving community.
Final Verdict:

Although Devastation sports some great fast-paced action, plenty of weapons and levels, and beautiful environments, the stupid enemy/teammate A.I. and non-existent storyline are enough to bring the game down quite a few notches. In the end you’ll have a lot of fun with Devastation, but you’ll also experience a lot of moments spent futilely trying to lead your teammates from one area to the next.

Overall Score: 7.5

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