Disintegration is the first game by V1 Interactive, a 30-person independent studio that was founded by Marcus Lehto, which you may know for being a co-creator of Halo. From the very start, you can clearly see where Disintegration draws inspiration from, as well as how unique its premise is. Disintegration takes place in a near-future Earth, where Humanity has been forced to undergo through this new breakthrough technological procedure called Integration in order to preserve their brains inside robotic armatures and ensure their survival.
Disintegration is a game that combines elements from First-Person Shooters and real-time strategy games, and it does so in a way that is both interesting and messy. The game puts you in the shoes of Romer Shoal, a gravcycle pilot, which are essentially these really cool hoverbikes that just also happen to feature a few different weapons for you to wreak havoc with. By piloting these gravcycles, you can hover and swiftly move across the battlefield while simultaneously shooting enemies and commanding your own small squad of up to 4 companions.
The game offers 4 different difficulty modes that should suit everyone’s needs in terms of how they want to approach Disintegration. There’s a Story mode, which makes the game extremely easy and each subsequent difficulty makes the game progressively harder and forces you to rely both on a careful use of your weapons and your AI companions. With that said, both companion’s and enemy AIs is quite poor. If you don’t micromanage your units by constantly giving them orders to move around, they’ll often just fire at enemies from the weirdest spots or just stand still while they’re getting shot at from multiple angles, and the same thing happens to enemies. For example, I noticed that, sometimes, units with shotguns won’t get close to enemies, even if you order them to prioritize an enemy unit and, other times, when you issue a focus target for your troops, they might just keep shooting at a wall or at the terrain if the enemy happens to be just around the corner.
Unfortunately, my problems with the whole AI system and how dozens of friendly and enemy units interact with each other don’t end with the issues that I just mentioned above. The most pressing issue for me, which is kind of immersion-breaking a lot of times, is the fact that you can only issue move orders to all your troops collectively, there isn’t an option to command each unit individually. How exactly does this break my immersion? Well, since your squad moves together and often on their own if you don’t constantly babysit them, what ends up happening is an amalgamation of a few friendly units and a dozen of enemy units fighting within a rather tight space. Please, do keep in mind that by “tight space” I don’t mean a small room or building, but rather just a small area within a wide-open battlefield because units seem to just like to get real close even though they use ranged weapons. It just makes little sense, especially in a sci-fi setting such as the one that is displayed here where the fighting factions are essentially robots.
Despite everything that I’ve just mentioned, when you actually order your companions to use their abilities and interact with certain items in the environment, the whole squad management aspect of the game can be quite mesmerizing. Each crew member has their own abilities, like concussion grenades and mortar strikes, and you are pretty much forced to constantly make use of these abilities if you want to stay alive and keep your squad alive. Likewise, you can’t just rely on your trusty squad to do all the work, as Disintegration is still a FPS at its heart, you have to repeatedly make use of your gravcycle’s manoeuvrability and its weapons to keep enemies at bay. Disintegration features a decent amount of weapons which actually all sound great, but unfortunately, there is no way to customize your gravcycle and take the ones that you prefer with you, as each mission assigns you with a specific weapon, or weapon combo, as well as pre-determined squadmates, albeit the latter is done for story reasons.
As for Disintegration’s story, it’s quite a confusing subject to discuss. It’s not that the plot is hard to follow, but although each character is charismatic in their own way, I just couldn’t get to develop a liking towards the game’s protagonist, no matter how hard I tried. Disintegration is one of those games where you feel like you were just dropped in the middle of an ongoing narrative and, as a result, you can’t really make sense of what is going on and what led to the current state of the world. The game opens up with a cutscene where you and a few others escape from what seems to be an airborne prison and, despite having just met, you all decide to hole up in an abandoned carrier and start to fight alongside the Resistance. There isn’t any sense of purpose behind the group’s actions, nor any background information to back them up, it just feels like you’ve started playing midway through a story.
There are a lot of mentions to this “Resistance” and “The Red Eyes”, also known as the Rayonne, which you continuously fight throughout the campaign, but the game doesn’t explain who these groups are, what really motivates them and how they really came up to be. It’s quite obvious that something terrible happened to Humanity and Earth in order to force them to undergo such drastic changes and abandon their human body, but the game doesn’t provide any sort of explanation about this. Maybe this was the plan all along, to leave people craving for more information about Disintegration’s universe, but it honestly just feels like the game’s world and the story were stitched together in a hurry to make up some sort of foundation on which the gameplay would lay on.
I should also point out that Disintegration has online PvP and this was actually one of the features that were marketed due to being able to customize your own crews with different load-outs and looks, thus fitting different playstyles. However, every time I tried I wasn’t able to find a match. Afterward, I ended up checking Steam Charts, and that’s when I saw that the game had an all-time peak of 120 players and that the player peak in the last 24 hours was 16 players. So, if you were hoping to give Disintegration multiplayer a shot, you’re pretty much out of luck.
Ultimately, the biggest problem that I have with Disintegration is that while using all the different abilities and weapons and moving around feels great, the game just wasn’t fun for me and on top of that, the world and the story delivery clearly lack structure. The core idea of piloting and fighting from a hoverbike while commanding a squad across different missions might sound cool, but the shooting, the piloting and the squad aspect of the game don’t feel satisfying as a whole. This also isn’t helped by the fact that, although the game takes you through vastly diverse scenarios, the mission structure leaves a lot to be desired, as all objectives are pretty much the same, despite what the game tells you, you’re always either moving forward towards the next objective, or you’re holding an area and defending from waves of enemies, there’s really no variety to the game in this aspect.
On the bright side, the Disintegration runs on the Unreal Engine and although it might not be the best-looking game, I must say that I was surprised at how well it ran on my 6-year-old system comprising an i5 4460, a GTX 970 and 8GB of RAM. I wasn’t running the game on max settings, only on High, but I was getting at least 90 frames per second most of the time. Nonetheless, I did experience a few random crashes during my playthrough, and while they weren’t game-breaking, they made me lose the entire mission’s worth of progress.
Disintegration is not by any means a bad game, but it also isn’t a good one. This is one of those cases where the game is not only too expensive for what it offers, as the campaign takes about 9 hours to complete and the multiplayer is pretty much dead, but what it offers isn’t also particularly worthwhile. Some people might find it fun or attractive in one way or another, but if you decide to pass on this one, I believe that you’re not really missing much. In any case, with a deep discount, it might be worth checking out if the premise tickles your fancy.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 5/10
Disintegration is a game that combines elements from First-Person Shooters and real-time strategy games, and it does so in a way that is both interesting and messy.