In a time when the average game has a plot akin to a full-blown movie, a control scheme only industry veterans can get their head around and gameplay mechanics so complex you're made to look like a fool if you dare to stray from the 'way it's meant to be played', it's refreshing to see that some developers are still making good old fashioned games that get straight to the point. NecroVisioN is such a game - an FPS in which you shoot things, a lot of things.
We got our hands on two levels plucked from the full game (levels two and seven if you must know) and booted up the DX10 FPS to see if simple can still be fun. The short answer is a resounding yes. But what exactly makes this admittedly simple shooter fun to play? It's all down to one thing: relentless action. Developer Farm 51 was founded by two guys who previously worked at People can Fly, the studio behind the well received Painkiller, and it shows. If you're after another dose of insane, over the top, bloody FPS action that pits you against seemingly endless waves of enemies, NecroVisioN will probably be right up your street.
NecroVisioN takes place a few years after the start of WW1, with main character Simon Bukner and his battalion getting lost behind enemy lines. After being gassed Bukner manages to escape, but things have taken an even bigger turn for the worst. The dead are rising from their graves, attacking anyone that cross their path and it's up you to send them back to Hell.
Level 2 in the preview build sees you taking on hundreds of walking dead, using whatever guns and melee weapons you can get your hands on, ghoulish white creatures flying in the sky and a giant troll-like creature with a big hammer. It's fair to say that the developers have tried to stray as far from reality as possible, and the game appears to be all the better because of it. Gun combat is the meat and bones of the gameplay, but a melee combo system is also in place, allowing you to build up your fury level by chaining together punches, kicks and swipes with whatever you've got in your hands.
The second level we sampled takes place much later on in the game after you've been given powerful vampire weapons and a magical artefact called the Shadowhand (don't ask us to explain it as we can't). Compared to the quite enclosed feel of level two, the large open area on show here made for a nice change. Attacking us this time were some freakish, moaning undead nasties and what can only be described as numerous ED-209s from the original RoboCop movie. As we said, don't expect NecroVisioN to stick too closely to reality. We're also told that you'll encounter vampires, ninja vampires, giant robotic scorpions, and plenty more.
From the preview build one thing is abundantly clear: NecroVisioN is far better looking than we expected it to be. The team at Farm 51 really seems to know its stuff, as apart from some iffy modelling work here and there, you'd be hard pushed to find a so called triple-A game that looks better. The lighting is superb, the motion blur is excellent and the amount of enemies on screen at once is reminiscent of the classic Serious Sam games. It might seem as though the studio bought a book on every modern next-gen graphical technique and didn't rest until the game included them all, but we're not complaining. It's a little rough around the edges, but still a fine looking game that runs well on reasonably modest hardware.
What we can't say much on right now is how the story fits together with the action. Before each level there's a lengthy load time in which you're 'treated' to fully voice-overed letters, presumably fleshing out what's going on, but having only played two levels that take place some time apart from one another, it's hard to get a feeling for how successful this will be. We know the dead rise, you form some kind of alliance with vampires, there are robots and that Bukner says more cheesy one-liners than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday, but that's about it.
Having been less than thrilled at the prospect of playing NecroVisioN we're glad to report that our admittedly low expectations have been exceeded by some way. We doubt Farm 51's game is going to win many awards or make too many headlines, but it's shaping up to be a fun, action packed shooter that doesn't take itself too seriously.
NecroVisioN is due for release on PC in February.