Disintegration is a futuristic story of rebels throwing off the yoke of an oppressive force while melding an uncommon mix of game genres. It’s a game coming from one of the co-creators of Halo which I have enjoyed very much. Does Disintegration follow in its fabled footprints?
The story starts with a prison break. The main character, Romer Shoal, and a group of other individuals will team up to gain some weapons after release, supporting a group known as the Outlaws. One of the twists is that you and most others have become “integrated”. This involves taking people willingly or by force out of their bodies and implanting their brains into a robotic shell. Humans have largely migrated over from flesh and blood to alloys and oil. It’s a cool concept that I wish was explored a little more.
Your opposition is The Rayonne, and the story is pretty vague about the group’s motivations. There is a quick mention of forced integration and slavery to explain why they are bad, but they and the main villain are shallowly sketched.
This is true throughout and extends to your allies as well. Your machine compatriots are roughly fleshed out through banter during a mission, but don’t look for any real depth or development. This is a shame because it robs the story of any emotional impact during a couple of scenes despite the voice acting being generally solid.
The real draw in Disintegration is the gameplay. It’s an interesting mix of RTS and FPS, and it usually works well. You directly control Romer on a Gravcycle, a vehicle that looks a little like the podracers from Star Wars The Phantom Menace. I enjoyed a rotating loadout of guns and healing items, and it can move around the battlefield and slightly raise and lower its altitude while firing. A few missions give you a more nimble version, but they are mostly slower moving with a rechargeable boost.
It’s not meant to be an unstoppable gunship, and this is where your other characters on the ground fill out the RTS part of the game. They can be directed to move to a spot in battle or attack a certain enemy with a click of the R1 button. They also have a special move that you can use to attack or slow an enemy. There is a cooldown, but these can be devastating if used at the right time.
Combat is OK, but it hits a good place when it’s frantic. When I’m coasting with my robot crew and looking for a cache to loot or Rayonne to explode, it drags. When I’m simultaneously in the thick of fighting off little armies on the ground and air, directing my troops, and cursing my guns as I wait for them to reload, it’s a good time. Pacing is important, but I found a few too many of the slower times.
Everyone’s abilities can be improved using the upgrade chips found in the levels or gained by completing challenges. You can choose to increase a character’s durability, increase your attack or special ability, or regenerate health faster. Additional upgrade slots are unlocked by leveling up with scrap collected from fallen foes and caches.
After a mission, you head back to a hub area, and these were deeply boring. You can run around to talk to characters, but most of what they had to say was one or two quick phrases or simply part of accepting a challenge for the next mission. It didn’t feel like it was important. These areas feel mostly empty and unnecessary outside giving you a place to perform upgrades and start your next mission.
Visuals are another area that is hit or miss. The general terrain is a little grainy, but it gets the job done. It can be a little hard to see in some areas like caves, but they are infrequent. My problem was the human faces. Real humans are rare in Disintegration, and their faces aren’t great. Robot faces are generally good, and they make up the majority. In a few instances, my human characters didn’t come close to syncing up during dialogue. Outside that, there were a couple of momentary glitches, but nothing that stopped the game.
The ending is abrupt with a clear opportunity to continue in future DLC or another game. A villain is left unpunished or is punished off-screen, and it feels unfinished. To avoid spoilers, you take away his toy, but you don’t send him to his room. He deserved and was denied a very long and permanent time out which was more than a little unsatisfying.
Some games have an interesting take on a genre, a fresh world, and still somehow manage to fall short of the lofty ambition you can clearly see went into the design. Disintegration is one of those games. It has a lot of great ideas that never become a cohesive whole that lifts it above a more generic middle ground. It’s not a bad game. It’s just not a consistently good one.
Disintegration PS4 Review
- Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/105.5/10
Disintegration has all the ingredients for a great sci-fi game, and it combines the RTS and FPS genres in a creative way. It stumbles with combat that is merely OK and a hub area between missions that feels empty. Despite good voice acting, the story and characters are shallow, and the story concludes very abruptly without a feeling of resolution.
There are times when the combat is great, and you can see exactly what the game is trying to be. Unfortunately, those great moments aren’t enough to offset my other issues with the game.
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.