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Review – Disintegration

Disintegration (available June 16 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One) is the latest work by the co-creator of Halo, Marcus Lehto, and independent studio V1 Interactive. Instead of diving back into the world of first-person shooters (FPS) however, Lehto has gone a different, more tactical path this time around.

As Romer Shoal, an ‘integrated’ human – basically a brain in a robot body – gamers will fly, shoot, and command their way through the campaign. Romer is a gravcycle pilot of some renown, though that didn’t translate into the kind of pinpoint controls I’d expected. Flying the gravcycle feels fine, if somewhat slower and less fun than I’d like, but I found the weapon controls inexcusably clunky – certainly not what I expected given Lehto’s history. Your weaponry does sport a solid feel to it though, especially when you start chewing up the scenery with those missed rounds, destroying walls, barriers, and other obstacles like they were nothing – and they do a pretty fair job on enemies you manage to hit as well.

The game gets some tactical depth via Romer’s ability to command his squadmates, but even that isn’t anywhere near what you’d call fleshed out. You get a single command – interact with [X] – for whatever you click on. Enemies get shot at by everyone you control, boxes get opened, objects get looked at…it’s all down to a one-button mechanic plus the ability to fire off special abilities on cooldowns, resulting in a bare bones tactical experience but nothing more.

What’s more, if your troops have spread out over the battlefield during the fight and you issue a ‘destroy this guy’ command, they’ll often leave cover and head over there for a good old fashioned beatdown – a decision that can have fairly devastating tactical disadvantages. If not for the ability to switch from active weapon systems over to a healing beam – if the mission assigned it to your inventory – that covers for these tactical blunders, your troops would have shorter lifespans than most celebrity marriages.

Fortunately if one of your squadmates does bite the dust, you can get them back in the action just by flying over their corpse to grab their head – you’re actually required to do this, thanks to a 30-second timer that ends the mission if you don’t help them out.

The campaign lasts 13-15 hours, with a couple interesting boss battles as high points alongside some good-to-great characters. Multiplayer will be the meat and potatoes of the title, and I had a good time with it in the beta but haven’t had the chance to give it an honest shot in retail so we’ll see how that experience transfers over.

What I loved:

  • great weapons ‘feel’ thanks to damage to environments and enemies
  • this is one weird world that raises good questions about our obsession with tech

What I liked:

  • well-written campaign storyline and characters
  • multiplayer has real promise based on the beta
  • great environment variety
  • upgrade system is basic but good

What I disliked:

  • tactical command options aren’t very tactical
  • no ability to set my mission loadout

The Final Word:
Disintegration has a solid premise and some fun moment-to-moment gameplay as the commander of a squad of troops but doesn’t live up to its potential.