If you’re looking for smart AI, squad tactics and precision gunplay you’ve come to the wrong place. If you like been rushed by hordes of enemies and dealing death with some ridiculous weapons then you can do a lot worse then NecroVision, which takes Painkiller and adds a dose Clive Barker to deliver some old school FPS thrills.
Your descent into hell takes a while to get going. Meagre clusters of enemies and dull objectives make for a poor start, but it’s worth persisting because about a third of the way in things go quite insane. Not just the predictable ‘hordes of demons wading through pools of blood to kill you’ kind of insane, but the ‘riding a dragon and incinerating your foes before bashing their heads to a pulp with a demon glove’ kind of insane. Doctors widely regard this as being the best form of madness.
The splattery chaos is fairly well realised and the environments, while never original, are good enough arenas for the mindless action. Again, things improve a lot once you leave the grey environs of Germany and enter the more hellish locales. At times you’ll fight with squads of fellow soldiers but horrible dialogue and voice acting meant I was always desperate to leave them to their inevitable deaths at the earliest opportunity.
There’s a melee system here but it doesn’t translate very well to keyboard controls. You can string together combinations by mashing the control, middle and right mouse buttons. This lets you dispatch your foes with a comical and fairly random flailing of your limbs while the game rewards you by proudly displaying the name of the combination you’ve executed at the top of the screen. Farmer’s Revenge!
String together headshots and combinations and you’ll get the rage ability, which slows down time and lets you headshot everything charging you, or repeatedly kick them in the nadgers for comic effect. There’s a challenge mode as well, which distills the best parts of the single player into a series of tasks, most of which ask you to kill a huge number of enemies in specific ways. If you’re looking for a fast dose of action that bypasses the sluggish opening of the single player campaign, unlocking challenges might be the best way to play.
It’s all solid fun. It’ll never engage your brain, but turning large groups of enemies into a fleshy soup has been the cornerstone of shooters since Doom, and NecroVision is a fairly fitting follow up in that school of unchallenging but ultimately fun FPSes. It lacks the bonkers humour and huge bosses of Serious Sam, the weapons aren’t quite as mad as Painkiller and the slow start puts it below both of these games, but on a budget this NecroVision prequel is a worthwhile bet if you’re a fan of the FPS as it was ten or so years ago.