I managed to get hopelessly lost on my way to last week s Dirty Bomb [Steam page] event, squirrelled away in the trendy thicket of London s Old Truman Brewery. Annoying? Yes. Fitting? Absolutely. Splash Damage has a multitude of demons to slay with its latest spin on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – the ever-controversial choice of a free-to-play model, the spectre of Brink, its previous stab at a new IP – but the most fearsome of these demons is surely London itself. London, a city that s actually a bunch of medieval villages mashed into each other, where roads designed for horses struggle to find room for buses and Range Rovers. London, a metropolis blown half to bits during World War 2, then mutated into absurd, glittering shapes by overseas investors. London, where heading a mile downriver feels like setting foot on a different planet.
You couldn t ask for a less elegant setting for a multiplayer FPS in the Team Fortress vein, where a single sightline askew can be the difference between enjoyment and fury, but the studio has done a bang-up job. In fact, one of this formidable, comfortable shooter s greatest strengths is how it chisels readable warrens of coverspots, overlooks and chokepoints out of the capital s beguiling weirdness. London is everywhere in Dirty Bomb, from its red letterboxes to the graceful arches of Waterloo Station, but unlike the reality, it s seldom inconvenient. It never gets in your way.
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