Some genres within video games have collided to great effect over the last couple of years. Think Mass Effect mixing tense cover-based shooting with RPG ideas of growth, or the Batman games combining action with the sense of rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place in a round of Guitar Hero. Games like this work, because the genres they fuse together happen to complement each other perfectly.
And then there are games which juxtapose these ideas against one another in a manner that shouldn’t function at all. Cats and dogs living together, salt mixing with vinegar in a packet of Simba chips, you get the idea. Disintegration is a solid effort to merge visceral first-person shooting mechanics with more thoughtful strategy behind each pull of the trigger, and for the most part, it works extraordinarily well.
From the mind of Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto and the many talented hands of studio V1 Interactive, Disintegration blends that first-person push into action while slipping into a massive strategy gunship amidst the backdrop of a more preferable apocalypse to the one we have going on right now. With the planet absolutely buggered thanks to rampant human greed, the survival of our species lies within the cold steel of a robot shell, new avatars better equipped to survive and save the planet for those of us who wish to still keep our flesh-suits of meat and bone.
Only problem? The process of Integration has resulted in a terrorist faction by the name of the Rayonne rising up, demanding to Borg out and integrate the rest of humanity into these new mechanical forms. That’s where you come in to save the day, as you step into the boots of Romer Shoal and hop a ride on his Gravcycle. Take to the skies, fight back and command troops in a last-ditch effort to preserve humanity in its original near-mint condition.
Disintegration’s primary single-player happens to be an absolute hoot to experience. While the core idea of commanding a small army of grunts in opposition to the obviously-EVIL troops of the Rayonne takes some getting used to, once you’ve gotten to rips with the controls the action flows organically. You can also hop into the fray from your Gravcycle, but as any good commander knows, it’s better to keep a certain distance and absorb damage with a shield of cannon fodder grunts rather than risk your own neck and potentially lose the war.
It’s damn surprising just how good it feels to pilot a floaty gunship of death, which operates like a weapons platform after someone enabled the Noclip cheat from the command console. Disintegration prioritises clever action over a gung-ho approach, a theme ably reinforced by a selection of levels that’ll test your flexibility in the heat of combat. Some stages feel like the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you, others require more precision and no matter how great the challenge is, every stage can be clocked provided that you have a cool head on your shoulders.
It’s that fluidic direction which defines Disintegration, as you learn just what your units are capable of and you surprise yourself with new tactics using their various special abilities while you swoop in to provide covering fire. Said units do have the potential to be a tad bit thick from time to time, which can be a headache against the more ruthless and devious AI if you run in half-cocked.
But when you’re breaking down buildings, treading a needle through tight spaces and calling for your units to execute your attack strategies, Disintegration feels brilliantly alien with its take on action strategy. The story may be nothing to write home about as you see plot beats coming from a mile away, but the multi-tasking mayhem more than makes up for it.
It’s just a pity that the multiplayer can’t hold up as well. I’ve had Disintegration for a good couple of weeks now, and I was hopeful that I’d be rolling in matches after a solid session in earlier beta build. I…sadly wasn’t. Depending on the hour, I’d either spend an eternity waiting for a lobby to fill up or I’d be thrown into a game with a bunch of very angry people, with no rhyme or reason to the server woes.
It’s a pity, because Disintegration’s multiplayer has some genuinely fun modes on offer. With nine different Gravcycle crews to pick from, a whole meta-games of strengths and weaknesses to balance and team composition to factor in, Disintegration is deeper than the Marianas Trench when it comes to the battlefield. You’ve got three standard modes in the form of zone capture, team deathmatch and some good ol’ control as you attack and defend, with the overall team strategy being a tense session of using maps to your advantage as you take down players and earn points.
How you play against and with others also factors into which Gravcycle crew is best for you, with teamwork feeling more essential than ever before in this expanded game of tactical pursuit. Make no mistake, the skill ceiling is properly high but Disintegration’s brilliant gameplay will still push you to be better with every loss you’re bound to suffer.
I just didn’t get enough time with the multiplayer due to the aforementioned online nature of this game being more finicky than a cat trying to decide if it wants to be inside or outside. I’m throwing in the towel for now, and I’m hoping that a return in a few weeks will see a more stable product in the hangar, ready to rock and roll.
Last Updated: July 1, 2020