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Necrovision (PC) artwork

Necrovision (PC) review

""I'm on the suburban side street to hell.""

Necrovision asset

War is hell. NecroVisioN makes that abundantly clear in its campaign by first thrusting you into the dire trenches of World War I. There you not only plug bullets into Germans and blast old school tanks to smithereens, but you also must contend with some rogue Brits and flesh-hungry demons. On this battlefield, there are no safe havens and even fewer allies. The chaos of bloodshed has driven everyone mad, and you are alone in the an immense maze of barbwire, ruined castles, and shadowy caves.

In the latter half of the game, you literally go to hell. There you find that your situations is not much different, as undead soldiers and vicious imps either swarm in the hopes of turning you into a buffet. Your opponents may have changed in appearance, but their actions and motives are much the same.

As you can imagine, NecroVisioN is a frenetic first-person shooter. There's little time to plan an attack, utilize a particular strategy, or shoot from behind a protective barrier. Foes flood the battlefield in nearly every scene, and it falls to you to make use of the weaponry you secure throughout the campaign to put them all to rest. Early on, this amounts to slowly picking them off with a crappy rifle or a shotgun. Unfortunately, shotgun shells are rare in the early stages, so you're forced to make do with a horrible rifle that rarely hits. It's telling how horrible a weapon is when its melee option is more effective than its primary use. Before long, though, you begin to amass a fantastic selection of weapons, including a machine gun, an explosive anti-tank gun, and a sniper rifle. Battles develop from seemingly unending trudges to Michael Bayish series of explosions and constant fire.

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While in hell the game ceases to provide standard artillery and progressively replaces your collection of earthly weapons with "vampiric" guns. Above all, you gain an entirely new weapon that you might feel should have been a part of the campaign since the beginning: a hellish gauntlet. And this isn't your garden variety wrist guard we're talking, either. With the flick of your wrist, blades protrude from the gauntlet that rend nearby foes to bits. The gauntlet also grants you access to a handful of deadly spells, all powered by glowing bits of mana that your adversaries leave behind as they perish. With enough mana, you can cut loose explosive fireballs or freeze your opponents with an ice ray. Spells become essential to survival in the latter stages, as the flood of monstrosities grows to annoying proportions by that point. They eventually become so numerous that your special meter fills in the blink of an eye. Before you know it you're bathing the battlefield in continuous fireballs and leaving only smoldering remains in your wake.

NecroVisioN has all the makings of a fantastic throwback FPS. Sadly, I only wish I could report that the developers didn't squander the game's potential. Unfortunately, the campaign is only peppered with brilliance, as poor design choices and repetition demean what few simple pleasures the game has going for it.

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For starters, it's difficult to enjoy the game's basic combat when every situation entails the same thing. Nearly every encounter starts off with a seemingly ceaseless contingent of weak, basic enemies that require you to rack up mana and spam the fireball spell. It's even worse earlier in the campaign, when you're consistently assailed by Germans. They seem to appear in the same two formations throughout the opening act, either as a slightly scattered camp or positioned behind obstructions in a hallway or on a bridge. In either case you can easily take them out with sniper rounds or shotgun blasts.

What's that? Cover? Don't bother. Human ammo, with the exception of mounted machine guns, deals an insignificant amount of damage. This allows you to snipe your adversaries while out in the open, heedless of damage. Like many modern FPSs, you can simply wait somewhere to recover your health. Sure, it will only refill halfway unless you find a first aid kit, but in the early outs of the campaign half is all you need. Even if your setup looks grim, you can save and reload any time anyway.

In hell, damage is also trivial. Though foes can drain your health more quickly there, they regularly drop health restoring power ups. Recovering health is seldom an issue, except when dealing with more massive abominations.

The developers seemed to have a hard-on for tank enemies. All throughout the game, you'll run afoul of resource-draining ogres and trolls that take myriad blasts to fell. Facing these guys once in a while wouldn't be worth complaining about, but they make enough repeat appearances per stage that battling them grows wearisome. Mainly, this is because the strategy used to kill them is the same every time. All that's required is a powerful weapon, a lot of running, and the bravery to turn around once in a while and plug a shot in your opponent's head. Rather than getting psyched when one of these guys showed up, I sighed and said, "This again? It's like the fifth time this level I had to deal with this!"

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Although the campaign only lasts about nine hours, the game feels much longer. Stages stretch on sometimes well beyond thirty minutes, and playing through the campaign is a daunting process. Sure, NecroVisioN is sometimes entertaining, but not nearly as often as it should be. I think the developers could have alleviated this by providing a greater variety of enemy regiments while cutting out certain segments--or heck, even whole levels. Do we really need more than four nearly identical instances of gunning down Germans on a bridge? Not really.

I find this game quite funny, honestly. It features an opulence of references to other FPSs, including a one-liner where the protagonist speaks of "killing pain" or mentions that, good or bad, he's the one with the guns. One particular reference that stands out for me involves a speech that an officer delivers during the campaign's prelude. Near the end, he says that their service on the field is their "call of duty." In response, a nearby soldier mutters, "What a crock of shit!" As someone who isn't a fan of realistic shooters, that line initially struck a chord with me. Thinking back on it now, after arriving at the conclusion that NecroVisioN isn't much better than such titles, that jokes comes off as presumptuous. It tells me enough about the developers and what they seem to regard as superior FPS concepts that I'll be skipping this game's prequel NecroVisioN: Lost Company. I don't think I can stomach another nine hours of banality...


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 14, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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