What could be worse than leaping into a World War 1 trench and coming face to face with a battalion of armed, and very angry, German soldiers? How about leaping into a World War 1 trench full of armed, un-dead, demonic, zombie Germans? Necrovision from 505 Games and 1C Company is a classic, old school FPS with tons of extreme weapons, wave upon wave of enemies and bloody body chunks flying around like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre themed village fête.
You start the story awakening in the British trench, you are Simon Bukneran American Army recruit who, I suppose, is ‘on loan’? Anyway, you follow your comrades into battle, after a particularly excruciating voice over from a chap who, I think, was trying to emulate a cockney accent, but I could be wrong. Into the fray you charge and, basically, down you go as the Hun unleash deadly green gas killing off your unit and knocking you unconscious. After a brief cut-scene, you find yourself behind enemy lines and fighting for your life, but not just against the dreaded Hun. A terrifying plot emerges straight from the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft as you become involved in a battle between Vampires and Demons. Necrovision is an occultist’s dream come true with references to the supernatural, demonic law, necromancer’s, phantoms, spirits, dragons and creepy deep voices that follow you around.
The first thing that really strikes you when playing Necrovision are the waves of enemies that come at you, either hidingbehind crates and takingpot-shots or rising from the very ground and lumberingover to you, there’s no stoppingthem, they come at you by the hundreds makingthis game an extreme shooter. The second is the inadequate weaponry you have to start with, however, as the game informs you during play, pressing Ctrl will put the boot in and knock the blighter’s down or pressing the middle mouse button will initiate a melee attack with the butt of your gun or the pointy end of the bayonet. You need to get used to these controls as reloading the weapons seems to take forever, especially when a hoard of the un-dead are approaching. But when you do pick up a decent weapon, the joy of a close quarters head shot is a B-movie delight and what’s more, the developers have gone down the dual-wield route of toting two 1916 versions of a mini-gun in each hand. Wonderful, but incredibly inaccurate. There’s nothing worse than letting rip with both barrels for a good thirty seconds, fillingyour vision with gunfire, only to have it clear and see that you hit nothing whatsoever and the un-dead are still approaching.
The first few chapters of play are primarily centred around the trenches and terrible conditions of the First World War, then the plot picks up and you suddenly enter a labyrinth of underground laboratories and strange Tesla-powered electrical pylons that give life to huge hideous beasts. Each chapter ends with the familiar ‘Boss’ that soaks up ammo like a sponge, be they sorcerers, strange part-human-part-machine creatures, or a giant robot scorpion. After the completion of the first part of the story, you collect the Shadow Hand, a powerful and magical Vampire weapon that charges itself from the dispatch of souls to hell and can shoot out Wolverine-like claws. After that.. Well, that would be spoiling it, wouldn’t it!
Alongside the single player campaign, Necrovision has included another option: challenge mode, an interesting extra that rewards you in the single player mode. Finish a chapter and you can unlock a challenge, accessible from the main menu. The challenges are along the lines of, ‘kill a hundred un-dead using only a shovel’, which will reward you with the shovel from then on, or ’kill the Vampire monster’ and you will receive power armour from the next chapter onwards. It’s not an original idea, but it gives you a fighting chance when you start a new chapter, plus completing the challenges is a nice break from the game’s early monotonous tramp-around-and-try-to-work-out-where-the-heck-to-go feel.
Unfortunately, Necrovision has it’s problems. Clipping and poor movement are major issues that will make you cringe. Seeing the end of a rifle poking out from behind a wall or the limbs of the enemy are common, as is the ability to become stuck when knee-deep in the corpses of the un-dead. The severely underpowered weapons are a drag and you soon find yourself hopelessly outnumbered by the un-dead and other nasties the demon spawn decide to unleash upon you. It’s only when you get to those weapons I mentioned earlier that the playing field becomes a bit more even, but the fight to that point is frustrating and saving becomes second nature.
Which brings me to another gripe: why are the loading times so diabolically slow? Both loading a saved game or loading between chapters takes ages and you can find yourself drumming your fingers on the desk in-between times. Another major problem, and one that will make you bury your head in your hands, is the drastically poor voice acting. You have to listen to it to understand what I’m talking about, but it is truly dire.
However, despite the glitchy behaviour, Necrovision does have some redeeming qualities. The environment is very nicely drawn, with smoke filled, war torn backdrops. Biplanes whiz overhead, explosions, bodies flying around and, of course, the gritty semi-realism of a rat-filled trench strewn with the dismembered corpses of the soldiers.
The graphics and animations are okay, they look very dated by today’s standards and not particularly impressive, but they come into their own when the cool looking demons and bosses crop up with bucket loads of gore and missing body parts. The sound, not counting the awful voice acting, is tolerable, a sort of mix of music from 1916 together with a rock track that can set the mood nicely, but does get a tad tedious towards the end.
A multiplayer option is available, with a free for all, deathmatch, capture the flag etc. But I can’t really comment on it as there was no one out there available to play with. Which was unfortunate, as Necrovision would be pretty good online, especially if you have access to the same weapons as the single-player campaign.
Overall, Necrovision isn’t a bad game, it’s well worth a good few hours of frantic FPS-ing and the story isn’t too bad either, you just have to get past the first few chapters before it really becomes interesting. If you like grotesque and gory shooters and you have a few friends available then it’s worth spending a bit of time with this game.
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