Disintegration is a sci-fi FPS combined with RTS elements. Pilot a heavily weaponized Gravcycle while commanding your troops on the ground as you battle through a thrilling single-player campaign and in frenetic PvP multiplayer.
Publisher: Private Division, Take-Two Interactive
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro unit)
Also available for: Xbox One, PC
Cast: Jeff Schine, Debra Wilson, Giancarlo Sabogal, Erica Luttrell, Sunil Malhotra, Sigrid Owen, Omid Abtahi, Emerson Brooks, Hal Williams, Jon Bruno
Developer: V1 Interactive
Creative Director: Marcus Lehto
Story: Lee R. Wilson, Marcus Lehto, Kipling Knox, Joe Erskine
Cinematics Director: Lee R. Wilson
Design & PvP Lead: CJ Heine
Technical Director: Michael Gutmann
Mixing an FPS with an RTS may sound like a confusing concoction of genres but Disintegration does a good job of taking the passive leader position usually seen in RTS games and putting your boots on the ground. Although it doesn’t soar as either an RTS or an FPS, the melding of both can make for hectic — sometimes frustrating — firefights and the basis for something I’d love to see improved upon by developer V1 Interactive in any potential sequels.
In the near future, society begins to collapse and Earth’s resources begin to dry up after centuries of humans looking after the planet poorly. Scientists come up with the idea of moving human brains into robot bodies in an attempt to help save the number of resources everyone is draining from the planet. It works, but a group called Rayonne isn’t happy enough and begin forcing all humans to ‘integrate.’ You play as Romer Shoal, the leader of a group of outlaws who are attempting to fight back against the Rayonne and their mass-forced integration of humans.
Disintegration’s plot is interesting but the majority of the background you need to understand it is hidden online, or by reading the back of the game’s box. It kinda just drops you into Romer Shoal escaping a Prison in the first level and then teaming up with a group of survivors to begin a rebellion. The basis of what’s happening is easy to grasp, but the game could have done a better job of giving you the necessary information inside the game’s opening cutscene.
As Romer and his mostly robotic companions wage their fight against Rayonne you’ll fight through everything from desert to snowy landscapes and military bases. Each mission begins with an interesting cutscene where the personality and charm of each of the robot companions in the growing motley crew get to shine, but Romer himself is left feeling unfulfilled as a character by the end of the journey. For some reason, he doesn’t have any voiced-lines of dialogue at all when you’re in a mission, so you only ever get to see and hear the personality of the character you spend the game playing as between missions. Meanwhile, the other characters in the game will banter in-missions and you can speak to them between missions in your base to learn more about them – or skip that completely.
The basics of Disintegration are simple. You can press R1 to order your squad (you’ll have up to four with you at a time) to move to a location or focus fire on a certain enemy. Each of your squad also has a special ability like a concussion grenade which you can activate using the d-pad and order where it’s to be thrown. As Romer, you fly around the battlefield on a Gravcycle which lets you either stick close to your squad on the ground or hover higher up in the air. You may attempt to set high up in the sky and give orders like this is a true RTS but you’ll soon learn that’s not how Disintegration is designed to be played and the damage you offer is indeed needed to take on tougher enemies. Disintegration isn’t designed to give you a choice between playing it as an FPS or an RTS, it’s a blend of both and to excel in combat you need to find the middle ground between both.
Throughout the campaign, Romer will get different primary and secondary weapons attached to his Gravcyle depending on the mission. These can range from long-range cannon to a rocket launcher or healing guns to help your squad. You have no choice over what loadout you bring into a level, but I liked how being forced to try out different things was tied into the story, but also obviously preparing you for the multiplayer mode.
Early in the game, I was happy to charge into enemy groups and shoot them to pieces myself but it was only a mission-or-two later that I had to start taking advantage of the RTS commands and my squad’s special abilities to survive. Although Romer does do good damage on his Gravcycle, he also loses health very quickly. Your squad can get downed and you’ll have thirty-seconds to get to them and revive them, but Romer only has one life. Healing bays around levels help rejuvenate yourself and your squad but also are a great example of the shortcomings in the RTS mechanics involved in Disintegration.
There’s really only one command in Disintegration and it’s ‘go-here, attack-here.’ There’s no way to tell your squad to stay in cover or hold a position. So when you order them to open a healing bay and they’re all on super-low health and proceed to run out of cover after opening it and die, it’s rather frustrating to deal with. Similarly, when fighting some of the stronger enemies in the latter end of the game I desired an option to tell my squad to just take cover as a huge attack reigned down, but there isn’t such an option.
I played through the first level on the hardest difficulty after beating the game and the RTS shortcomings are most notable when playing with harder-hitting enemies, but also it’s where becoming adept at working with what you’ve got is what’s needed. Disintegration is about knowing when to order your squad to just spam all their abilities in an area, or even just running and ordering them back to a distance. There are tactics here, it’s just a pity there’s not more nuance to how you can lead your squad.
Throughout levels, you’ll find crates and other objects that give you scrap and if you’re lucky, an upgrade chip. The scrap will level you up and allow you to use the upgrade chips on Romer or any of the squad to increase their stats. I never cared, or thought it was necessary to manually assign any of these upgrade chips however so I just press the auto-assign button each time. If there had of been choice in who I bring on each mission or the chance to craft out characters into different classes I may have cared more, but the upgrade system is rather simple and feels unnecessary.
When Disintegration’s campaign came to a rather sudden halt I was disappointed. It felt like the story was starting to build up to something big and then before I knew it, the credits were rolling. I’d started to get attached to several of my favourite squad-members and was ready to learn more about their pasts, but it’s never explored more than in bonus conversations you may choose to have between missions.
For a game all about the destruction of Earth that ends with a message about looking after the planet, Disintegration is often shy about going hard into what it’s thematically talking about.
I was super-interested in Disintegrations’ multiplayer, however, 48 hours after the games released to the public, I’ve still been unable to find a single match. Remembering I’m playing on PS4, so the PC player base may be different but for PS4, I tried on different days and different periods – morning, afternoon and night, but unfortunately couldn’t get a single game. This is, of course, disappointing, but also doesn’t bode well for the future of Disintegrations’ multiplayer, which is unfortunate since the game had plenty of pre-release marketing push on the multiplayer modes.