An interesting premise, good cutscene animation and innovative gameplay could not save Disintegration from falling apart.
This sci-fi strategy shooter game is set in near-future Earth where, for the sake of survival, most of the human race have opted to trade their organic bodies for robotic ones and become “integrated humans”.
You play as one of them. Your character, a former racer turned rebel named Romer Shoal, leads a team of outlaws against Rayonne, a militaristic anti-human robot army that captures and indoctrinates integrated humans to join its ranks.
Romer and his crew of integrated human outlaws have distinct personalities that play off one another well, with the crew banter during cutscenes particularly entertaining. Each member of the crew has unique physical traits.
The gameplay is an interesting mix of real-time strategy and first-person shooting. Imagine playing Command & Conquer, but instead of just looking down at the battlefield and moving your units around, you get to partake in the action too.
As Romer, you pilot a Gravcycle, which allows you to hover while directing where three of your units should go, or at whom they can focus their fire on. Each member has abilities you can command, from lobbing grenades that stagger or slow down enemies to carrying out mortar strikes.
When things get hectic and your team members get injured, you can heal them. You can also pick up their “brain can” when they are downed, so they can be spawned to go back into the fight.
This hybrid gameplay of shooting, commanding, manoeuvring and healing is, in a nutshell, what Disintegration is about.
However, shooting enemies from the sky gets extremely finicky the further you are away from the action. Enemies become smaller and the controls lack the finesse for you to shoot as accurately and issue commands that your crew can execute with precision.
Even in the easiest settings, fights can be a lesson in patience as your crew keep dying while you fail to make much of a dent on the enemy forces.
If this seems like fun, you will be happy to know you can take all this action online in three multiplayer player-vs-player modes. You will be lucky to find anyone else playing the game though.
This general lack of polish is what sours the Disintegration experience for me. For example, I could hear unbalanced audio levels, with explosions drowning out dialogue, and missing audio effects from the very first cutscene.
There is also little to do between story missions other than roam around a small base or landing zone. Environments are bland and devoid of life, with the story exposition minimal as you go from point to point picking up optional challenge objectives for your next mission.
I also find the game’s menus cluttered, which makes navigating in them a hassle when boxes of text are fighting for the player’s attention. One more thing – if, like me, you use the “O” button on your PlayStation controller for the “enter” function, you will have to assign the “X” button to the function instead. Otherwise, you will not be able to get out of the menus after you get in.
Disintegration’s developer is V1 Interactive, a new independent game studio founded by Marcus Lehto, who is the co-creator of the popular Halo series. In Disintegration’s defence, that reputation has probably brought on an overly high expectation, which, unfortunately, has not been met for the studio’s first outing.
• Hybrid gameplay
• Well-animated cutscenes
• Interesting premise
• Audio glitches
• Bad artificial intelligence
• Overall lack of polish
PRICE: $69.90 (PC; PS4, version tested; Xbox One)
GENRE: Sci-fi strategy shooter