Disintegration defines itself as a “sci-fi First-Person Shooter combined with Real-Time Strategy elements” and that does indeed seem like an accurate description: While the FPS gameplay takes the forefront, they’ve added a few minor tactical ingredients to the mix. What makes it all unique is that you play as a gravpilot, with the ability to hover above the battlefield.
The game takes place in a future where people have learned how to Integrate themselves into machine bodies to avoid dying of disease, famine and other natural causes. Some people went through the process voluntarily but it becomes clear throughout the story that others were forced into the decision and only a minority of “naturals” remain.
Our bad guys, the Rayonne, enslave these people who refused to evolve alongside them. At the helm of it all is Black Shuck, an all-black robot with glowing red eyes (leaving exactly zero doubt that he’s the evil leader we should try to vanquish)
You play as Romer Shoal, a famous gravcycle pilot who’s claim to fame happened well before the start of the single-player campaign. The multiplayer offers a closer look at what the pre-war state of the world looked like, which is a nice touch. Together with a band of rebels, you set out to foil Black Shuck’s evil plans to enslave the last of the humans.
There are hints of a great story here, but the delivery is not quite up to speed. You should probably hate the bad guys, but most of their misdeeds happened before the story starts and it feels like a lot of crucial information is omitted.
Luckily the cast makes up for some of it as you’ll have cutscenes and breaks in between missions where you get to know them a little better, alongside a bit of banter during the actual gameplay. Yet somehow losing one of them doesn’t really hit an emotional cord despite their attempts to do so.
On the battlefield, you’ll be commanding your robotic crew and telling them which enemies to focus on or when and where to use their unique abilities. It’s a shame that you can individually control them though: they perform their tasks as a team: Attack enemies, open locked boxes, disable generators… and if one of them dies, you have 30 seconds to retrieve their head or it’s game over.
Which brings me to the difficulty settings: the two hardest difficulties just weren’t fun to play. It only felt like prolonging the missions artificially with enemies soaking up more bullets and your own crew dying easily. Combine this with the “game over” when a teammate dies and some missions requiring you to send them into the fray because they need to shut down a jamming tower… it’s just needlessly frustrating.
But if you turn the difficulty down, then suddenly you become an almost unstoppable killing machine on your own, hovering at a safe distance from most attackers, above the battlefield. The Gravcycle really feels great to control and you can even manoeuvre easily inside tight spaces, though story-wise I don’t really get why these are perceived as such powerhouses (they should theoretically be quite fragile)
Sadly you can’t choose your own loadout or who you’re taking along for the ride. Your weapons and crew are predefined per mission and while I understand this is to avoid you “sticking to your guns” (quite literally) it can be a bit frustrating if you just got accustomed to your previous gear.
Throughout the missions you’ll also get scrap for killing enemies or opening containers which is used to level up. Sometimes you’ll also find chips that can be assigned to increase certain stats or make your abilities better.
I found it somewat odd that a single playthrough was not enough to attain max level though. You’ll need to revisit some missions and they don’t really offer a lot of replayability, especially if you already beat all the optional requirements in your first attempt. It also didn’t help that the combat formula grew stale near the halfway point.
Graphically, the game looks great most of the time. The environments themselves aren’t terribly inspired, but I appreciate the level of destruction you can cause: boxes splinter, defensive walls crumble… you can even wreck entire buildings.
You probably won’t see any of the enemies from up close though, and besides a colour swap they all look pretty much alike from up high in your gravcycle. The only ones that really made an impact are the thundering quadrupeds which you need to bring to their knees before getting up close and shooting at weak spots in their armpits. And they do have a rather imposing bellowing sound when they arrive.
I wish I was kidding with that meme but after a dozen failed attempts over the past few days I still haven’t been able to test the multiplayer. The server is up and running but no one is playing it. Further made clear by a dwindling number of completed achievements: the “Play a round of multiplayer” achievement is currently at 17% and dropping.
It’s a shame as from what I could tell, the multiplayer showed a lot of promise with multiple factions each having their own style both visually as gameplay-wise and three different modes. The team that made this game worked on Halo so my expectations were high and I’m not even given an opportunity to check it out.
You’d think a game about robots… would at least have bots to playtest against?
*Achievement/Trophy hunters beware: With the multiplayer absent and an RNG-related achievement only 0.50% of players have unlocked, you’ll be hardpressed to get 1000G/a Platinum trophy on this one.
Disintegration aims to mix things up by adding RTS ingredients into the FPS genre but just like the Gravcycle you pilot, it fails to fly high. It feels like there was some real potential here but repetitive combat and a weak story keep it grounded.
*disclosure: an Xbox One copy was provided by the publisher. This review only handles the singe player as we were unable to test the multiplayer.