Tuesday, January 25

Necromunda: Hired Gun Review – A brilliant marksman whose lack of polish keeps him from achieving greatness

Necromunda: Hired Gun is so close to being Warhammer 40,000 Doom.

Necromunda: Pistol contractedThe March reveal caught me a little off guard, doubly when I realized it will be out in June and not a few years from now. Streum On, the small French team behind him, usually takes a while to launch a new game.

But years of experience and new support from Focus Home Interactive have clearly helped the team get to the perfect size and scope for its games, because Hired Gun is a game that entertains, and sometimes impresses, without falling into the trap of excessive ambition. .

Necromunda: Hired Gun is a fairly easy game to explain. It is a first person shooter game with a linear story. You play as a bounty hunter who is sent to hunt down targets hidden in expansive Warhammer 40,000 settings. You do this with the help of a surprisingly large arsenal of weapons, taking the form of loot of various rarities that you can customize, upgrade, and modify in a central world.

It’s not something you haven’t seen before, but that often helps rather than hinders. Hired Gun delivers largely due to its satisfying, albeit predictable cycle.

Being set in one of Warhammer 40,000’s little-explored universes helped keep every story mission fresh. This is not your typical jingoistic walk with xenophobic space marines. Necromunda’s criminal underworld is made up of clichés: dirty bars, repurposed factories, and junkyards where gangs operate and fight for territory, but part of what makes it tick is that those same places share Warhammer’s propensity for greatness. 40,000. One mission had me fight and board a huge freight train, while another sent me to the site of an industrial drill to infiltrate the emerging micro-city that supports it. My desire to see what strange place the game was going to send me next kept me hooked on the main story thread, but it’s the game’s combat that made that journey exciting.

Like its general setup, the Hired Gun borrows a lot from other great contemporary shooters. Mechanically, it feels more like the new Doom; always surrounding yourself with enemies in arenas where you are free to move from one place to another, sometimes flanking and other times taking cover. The move is a little closer to Titanfall, with pretty responsive animations, the ability to run down the wall, and of course a grappling hook. This is already a solid mix, and Hired Gun often pulls these inspirations together well, but often loses some of its grace.

Most of the movement skills in the game are unlocked early on or shortly after. It felt good to have so much freedom from the start, but the tendency for the controls to feel imprecise took away the sense of power.

For example, wall running, is activated by holding down the space bar when you are near a wall. But the space bar is, of course, your jump button. Jumping off a wall, wall running, and jumping all inexplicably use a single button. This delicate setup made it more difficult to pull off in the heat of combat than necessary, and prevented me from regularly mixing in wall races.

The grappling hook has a similar problem. Although it can impressively adhere to any point in the environment, it is not always clear what is too far or too close. Otherwise, the grappling hook physics is useful, but rudimentary compared to Titanfall; it sucks you into whatever you block it and doesn’t take your momentum into account. You won’t use it to go around corners like you would in Respawn games. It’s fun to use, but it doesn’t always have a place beyond allowing you to remove shields from certain enemies. Your base jump in Hired Gun is already quite high and can be further boosted with upgrades. Often he would go whole levels without needing to run up the wall.

Another thing the game borrows from Doom is dodge, which is realistically what you’re going to rely on the most in combat. This is fine, but it makes it seem like the other abilities are a bit wasted.

His mastiff companion is another potentially interesting addition that falls a bit flat. Finding paths for the dog is spotty, and while it helps with crowd control as you flank or deal with a different group, the way it works is so rigidly mechanical that it makes it feel like a hologram of Miles Morales or any other game. cyberpunk.

I would have liked to see that relationship evolve in some way, but that’s another area where the Hired Gun is missing.

Between missions, you return to the central area to chat with some NPCs, explore side quests that revisit areas you previously explored, sell any leftover loot you’ve found, and spend the money earned on character upgrades and new abilities for you and your canine friend. Martyr’s End is its name, and it’s also where the story… happens. Most of your conversations will be with your handler, who is the main driving force behind the narrative. These moments are so brief and often lacking in tension, that the game almost seems to be trying to get through them as quickly as possible.

Although there are a couple of standout scenes and some really surprising moments, most of the acting is stiff and overly forced, even for a Warhammer 40,000 game. When I wasn’t expecting the cast to do a better job, I often wondered why the audio mix was so lacking. A character whispers almost all of his lines, probably with the intention of appearing low-key, but they are only too calm, it seems that the actor recorded his dialogue on the phone. So many dramatic moments are undermined by how under-emphasized the vocal track is in the mix.

Even starting these conversations can be a bit tricky. You have to wait for the characters to turn in the right direction for the interaction message to work, and a cyberpunk-y visual glitch effect can make the subtitles difficult to read. This lack of polish can also manifest itself in things like the stutters that occasionally occur in combat when transitioning between areas, or how there’s no way you can edit your gear without starting a mission.

Things like that are fine in isolation, but most of them happen in Martyr’s End, so they often remind you of the Hired Gun’s shortcomings as you ended up with its best part.

Beyond the general polish, my biggest issue with Hired Gun is the encounter and level design. I’m not talking so much about the layout of its various arenas, which are usually interesting to explore, especially if you’re looking for all the hidden chests, and large enough to allow for good combat range.

My main problem is how the encounters occur within the levels. Or do you start stealthily, at which point it’s incredibly easy to break that and immediately get to the heart of the matter. There is no detection meter or HUD indicators for line of sight. Either they detect you or they don’t detect you, and it’s never clear what you did to alert the enemies. Considering how happy the Hired Gun action is, and the fact that fights will almost always break out regardless, these stealth moments don’t always make sense.

When the fight starts, the biggest challenge is trying to see where the damn enemies are. I’ve constantly messed with my brightness settings just to try and find a consistent way to identify enemies. Looking at my footage, there are countless times when I stop shooting because I think it’s clear only to keep taking hits from an enemy incredibly close to me that I just didn’t see.

Every time I finish an enemy wave, there will be about 30 seconds that I’m trying to figure out if I’m good at moving on or if a new wave has appeared somewhere I need to find. Enemy visibility issues are compounded by the fact that they like to crouch, weave, and lean. Many times, you will only see his arm stick out from a corner and hit you. This isn’t exactly a colorful game, so some of that ambiguity is welcome, but making enemy silhouettes too dark – or giving a lot of them active camouflage – makes Hired Gun’s stellar action break down. In well-lit areas, the effects of smoke and particles can also be overwhelming on their own, often obscuring enemies in large fights.

There is a feeling that Streum On tried to compensate for these problems with some mechanics. There’s an area scan update that highlights enemies, but before you can afford that, simply summoning your mastiff can reveal enemies through walls. Actually, this is the main reason why the dog is useful. There’s also a Bloodborne-like healing mechanic where if you deal damage shortly after taking it, you regain some of your health, another cool idea that doesn’t always have a place.

You will be on the wire in some corner and immediately you will return to the fight because you eliminated an enemy. The idea of ​​treating enemies like walking health packs is fun, but the way it’s currently balanced takes a lot of the stress out when you can focus on an enemy and soak up some HP.

Often times, most of these issues don’t detract from how good it feels to engage in the Hired Gun type of violence – fire off his impressive arsenal of weapons and play in his sandbox. From the deafening crack of the Bolter to the silent threat of a suppressed Stubgun, it was constantly difficult to pick favorites for a charge.

The game’s medium difficulty has enough leeway that I was constantly switching weapons just for fun. It didn’t feel right to play an entire mission without using all the weapons I brought, and the sound of headshots never stopped being satisfying.

And so Necromunda often oscillates between a glittering indie gem and a frustrating mid-level game. At times it’s the best action game in Warhammer 40,000 – as you take down enemies and watch their skulls explode with their rocking tunes, and you look graceful doing it while chaining hook shots and double jumps. Other times, you miss the beat of an important story because the audio mix of an important character was too low, or you feel like you’re looking for enemies like it’s Warzone.

Reviewed platform: PC – code provided by publisher.


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