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.