|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Farm 51||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aspyr / 1C Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Sometimes sincere attempts on the part of film producers and game developers alike to create experiences that are eerie, unnerving, and genuinely scary can backfire horribly. If done correctly, gruesome gore, splattering dismemberment, and unholy creatures can make for a marvelous concoction of edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
However, any number of factors can cause an intentionally somber delivery to go awry, instead resulting in utter confusion or absurdist hilarity. In many ways, NecroVisioN feels like a first-person shooter equivalent of a wonkily done B movie horror flick. It wildly switches back and forth between extreme juxtapositions that make for some truly excellent moments and some rather awful ones.
The dark, blood-strewn battlefields of World War I seem like more than a fitting setting for a horror game. Hopelessness, despair, death, misery, and carnage are horrific elements on their own, and throwing in even greater depths of depraved grisliness and chilling encounters with evil, inhuman beasts tips the scale to the point of Hellraiser-like proportions. But a game that features a soldier having a string of possessed barbed wire jabbed into his face (with his body subsequently shredded apart in a spray of limbs and gore) in one breath and ridiculously laughable one-liners delivered in a George W. Bush-like southern drawl in another treads some curious boundaries. Yes, NecroVisioN is not your typical horror-infused first-person shooter.
As an American soldier whos recently joined the British allied forces on the front lines of World War I, you wind up lost on the battlefield deep behind enemy lines. Before long, German soldiers and mustard gas are the least of your worries, as the malevolent dead begin to rise and seek out the flesh of friend and foe alike. The thin WWI plot soon peels away to reveal a more sinister one involving necromancy, the gates of hell, a mad scientist, and lots of zombies. Quickly abandoning the war in the human world, you wind up on a bloody, well-armed rampage through the hellish underworld seeking to take out as many of its denizens as possible before you fall. The dramatic, somber tone in the letters youll pick up from soldiers that shed some light on situation from another point of view initially fits well with the vibe of hopelessness exuded by the war-torn landscape. Yet as the plot elements (and your witty quips) grow more outlandish, and the body count more plentiful, the seriousness gets thrown out the window for some straight-forward stabby-stabby fun featuring wizards, zombies, automatons, ghosts, demon-ogres, and even dragons, among other things.
NecroVisioN is a moderately sexy-looking game, both in terms of its dark, depressing environments and the mixture of mundane and unholy foes youll encounter. Despite occasionally jumping around a bit between overt seriousness and Duke Nukem-like humor, the various settings youll battle through are largely on-point. Muscling through barbwire and gassed trenches early on with hellhounds braying in the distance and planes bombing nearby just feels right. Carving through mobs of hellish beasts in later levels is equally thrilling. Thematically, most encounters are pretty gruesome. Youll frequently come across lots of gore, severed limbs, exploding heads, walking rotten corpses, and ample nastiness. Horror enthusiasts should find the level of hyper-violent dismemberment and splattering innards to be quite satisfactory.
Much of the gameplay hinges on mowing down countless foes as you navigate winding levels littered with secret passageways and unspeakable horrors to uncover. Between a tremendous armory of acquirable weaponry and additional melee options, there are some wildly fulfilling options for tearing your way through undead hordes. Early on, youre able to dual wield any combination of various old-fashioned pistols, knives, shovels, grenades, and more, before graduating to slightly more powerful weapons like a bolt-action rifle (with a handy bayonet attachment), a shotgun, dual machineguns, and a sniper rifle. Kicks, punches, and other melee attack combos are necessary when youre swarmed by zombies and other evil entities, and they add another dimension to the full-flavored combat system.