War and horror go together like Bond and vodka martinis and recently there’s been an upsurge in interest in combining ‘ordinary’ combat with nightmarish zombies and monsters (compare the recent F.E.A.R. 2 and Shellshock 2: Blood Trails). The latest bloody incarnation of this sub-species is NecroVisioN, developer The Farm 51′s literally Hellish take on the Great War.
It’s 1916 and raw US Army recruit Simon Bukner has become lost behind enemy lines on his first mission. Attached to a British battalion, he tries to fight through to the Allied trenches until the battalion is overwhelmed and gassed.
Now alone, Bukner soon discovers that the German soldiers are the least of his worries as he uncovers a plot involving giant robotic scorpions, secret German experiments and ninja vampires raising an army of undead to combat legions of demons threatening to escape the confines of Hell and wipe out humanity.
The vampires see Bukner as a handy ally in the fight against the demons and soon he collects a range of unusual weaponry including a magical artefact called the Shadowhand to aid him in the desperate struggle to save humankind. It all builds up via a range of boss fights to the ultimate evil behind it all and there are plenty of surprises along the way.
The style of this first-person shooter will be very familiar to fans of the Painkiller series (another story of a human co-opted to take on Hell spawn), which is not surprising as some of the team previously worked on Painkiller and have transferred over elements such as the driving rock soundtrack, non-stop waves of assailants and bizarre creatures and locations.
Because you start in WWI trenches, your initial weapons are authentic Lugers, grenades, rifle bayonets, gas lamps and even shovels and you have the option to build up combos using the three mouse buttons that will increase your adrenaline level and thus enable a ‘bullet-time’ style slow-mo fragfest.
In addition there are hidden letters, secret places and artefacts to be found as well as extra challenges and bonuses after a level has been completed. What’s particularly unusual in the gameplay is you’re encouraged to rush your enemies with all guns blazing rather than perpetually hiding behind cover, and that gives the game a degree of exhilaration, pace and fear missing in most of the current crop of shooters.
Once you head towards the underworld, there’s a whole new range of slice ‘n’ dice and spell-making weapons, and dragons appear, which either have to be destroyed quickly if hostile or can be mounted and used as flamethrowers against your enemies.
The graphics reveal an amazing amount of detail in the trench warfare (there’s a DX10 version available if your PC can handle it), are highly imaginative once you enter Hell and there’s no shortage of exploding heads and limbs as you rack up the bodycount.
Company: 505 Games