Saturday, March 07, 2009

Review: Necrovision

The premise of Necrovision is that an allied soldier in World War 1 happens finds that not only must he fight Germans, but that vampires and zombies and all manner of supernatural creatures are suddenly and inexplicably attacking him. Thus he must descend into the bowels of no-man's land to hunt the undead and save his soul. If you thought this was the short description of the shittiest game in existence, you were right. I'm sorry, usually I try to make my opening paragraph a teaser, but the absolute awfulness of this game makes it impossible to contain my bile entirely below the jump.

Graphics -

Never has current gen graphics (not to mention the havok physics engine) been abused to no good purpose. Most of the models are well done, the textures are high res, but the models you see most in cutscenes must have been done in a hurry at the last minute because they bend and twist their polygons in odd fashion and make you think you're watching something from 10 years ago only in higher res. Throw into the mix that half the game is too dark and cluttered for you to see what the hell you're supposed to be shooting at, much less appreciate any of the artistry that has gone into any of the game material.

Sound -
It's really hard to screw up the sound portion. Usually the worst I can say about a game is "there is sound, but it is not especially noteworthy." Well, Necrovision takes us to new lows. Even from a technical standpoint. The loud portions are too loud, the soft portions are too soft, there is no way to independently adjust these separate portions, and for some reason the game decides to disable my ability to adjust my computer's volume via the volume controls at the top of my keyboard. Even getting past that, the dialogue is some of the worst gobbledygook that has ever assaulted my ears in either game, tv show, or movie. And that's saying a lot, because I've watched A Polish Vampire in Burbank. Every other line uttered by the protagonist left me audibly asking "...whuh?" He's supposed to be American, but I can't imagine an American (even in 1916) saying the things he says. It makes me think he's using some kind of slavic turns of phrase that don't translate well. I shot somebody with a rifle, and my guy said "Now you're well cooked, and easy on the onions!" ...What? Half the time it also sounds like the wrong dialog files got put in my character's audio folder. Between shouts of "Yee haw! Take that sucker!" and "Screw this!" in an accent that can't decide whether it's midwestern or texan, suddenly my guy will bellow "Respect my skills!" like some kind of poorly translated samurai movie. The germans are not immune to silly phrases either. Often, one of them will shout "I am defending!" as if he thinks this is not patently obvious, or perhaps he expects a medal for shooting back at attackers.

Control -
Usually I don't need to put in a section on Control any more. Most First Person Shooters have the same controls. WASD to move, click to shoot, some minor variations after that, but usually it's not something you have to write about. But I have to bring it up here because the controls are unresponsive and clunky. Your character is also completely incapable of stepping over the lowest of obstacles (such as a corpse) without you using the jump key... and for some reason early 20th century Americans seem to be able to jump higher than Super Mario. That's right, I can clear entire barbed wire walls in a single bound, but I can't step over a two-by-four lying in my path. The "Crouch" key is also near worthless since your guy ducks about a grand total of eight inches. The scheme for weapon selection is nigh-unforgivable. Sure, you've got 3 for rifle, 4 for shotgun, 5 for machine gun... but then you have about 8 different weapon combinations that you can cycle through by hitting "1." And that's where things you need like dynamite to blow open closed passages or grenades to throw at enemies in cover are. Sure, you're just cruising along, blowing away creatures of the night and the kaiser's finest, and oop, you need to throw a grenade. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. click. Oh look, they moved. Of course they moved. They saw you switch to pistol, then take out a bayonet, then a second pistol, then a shovel, and it doesn't take them a lot to guess the grenade is coming soon. Oy.

Story -
Look, you read the first paragraph. I don't know what more to say. The story exposition does not improve on the initial premise. Not only that but it contradicts itself. After the first level, a cinematic shows your character fighting some kind of undead creature that uses barbed wire for deadly tentacles, armed only with some kind of claw-sprouting metal gauntlet (which, I'm sorry, looks to be completely lifted right out of Witchblade lock stock and barrel). But when the cinematic is over, you don't have the gauntlet, you're not even in the same place where the fight took place, and you don't make any references that lead the audience to believe that the preceding situation even happened at all. Not only that, but often the germans can't seem to decide whether they want to shoot you or talk to you for hours at a stretch. Very early in the game you are put behind their lines, and sometimes they notice you but don't seem to care, and sometimes they talk with you in a cutscene to explain vital plot points (which will then be entirely lost upon you because they make no sense). The whole thing is intolerable. It pries at your sanity like a crowbar forged of madness and heat-tempered in a septic tank. It's like the game was written by the same person who wrote Doom: Repercussions of Evil.

Gameplay -
So far, there has not been a section of this review that has not shown Necrovision to be an abject failure in each category. This category shall be no different. Even if you overlook the terrible visual direction, the abysmal dialog, the insane story exposition and all the rest, is there at least a fun to play game under all the detritus? No. Good lord, but no. The game is a neverending exercise in irritation.


First of all, as reference earlier, everything is too dark, too foggy, too reflective, too cluttered and too dynamic for you to be able to reliably tell what is a random pile of crap and what is an enemy shooting at you. Second of all, because a large number of the game's enemies are zombies, they have an annoying tendency to climb up out of the ground, literally materializing behind you with only the faintest of audio cues which are then of course buried in the noise of combat and awkward english. Third of all, the game delights in giving you lots of ammo and weapons and then dropping enemies around you on which your pitiful mortal weapons have no effect. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Fourth, it seems the developers couldn't decide whether they wanted your health to regenerate or to make you hunt down health packs to heal... so they decided to do both. You will regenerate to 50% health, but to get higher requires a med kit. 50% health is about enough to take 2 hits, the third killing you. However, any time you find a med kit, you'll find 3 or 4, meaning most of them will go to waste and you won't be able to get back to them when you need them later. Also, after healing to full, you will invariably be mobbed and be hacked back down under 50% again within seconds.

Fifth: The boss battle. Let me just clue you developers in - Boss battles are for console tards, not FPS games. If your game has a sequence in which something the player is to fight needs to display a health bar across the entire top of the screen, you've already done something terribly wrong. Furthermore, the boss battles in this game are stupid beyond belief. Take the first boss for example. The helpful UI tells you to "Defeat the wizard." But actually attacking the wizard doesn't even enter into the fight. Instead, how you lower his health bar is by killing the undead things he summons and sends to fight you. The same exact undead things you've been fighting all along thus far, except now you have a robed asshole teleporting from roof to roof shooting fire at you at the same time. When you kill enough them, another disjointed, confusing cinematic will attempt to convey to you the death of the wizard, which has no visible cause, before a door opens near you and a german hits you in the head, knocking you out. I just killed 50 things way tougher than a german with a blunt object. I apparently just murdered a wizard with supernatural powers. And now some kind of idiotic reverse-deus ex machina is my reward, and what is needed to bridge one level to the next? Really?!

What am I on now, item six? It doesn't matter. There's too many to bother numbering. There are sections where inexhaustible numbers of enemies will continue to flood the room you are in until you do something special (which is naturally almost never explained to you), there's plenty of "instant enemies" popping up all around you, some of which are in places you can't even get to. The game never really seems to worry about explaining what is going on or how you even came to find yourself in whatever your current situation is. Your character has ever increasingly stupid things to say about said circumstances. Really, the only way I was able to not think myself into a nosebleed during this game was to convince myself that it was supposed to be the artistic first-person perspective presentation of the inner workings of the mind of a soldier who has suffered shell shock or PTSD or combat fatigue or all three with a healthy dose of hallucinogenic drugs to boot. But even that couldn't keep me playing it for long. It's just. That. Awful. Just... Awful.

Conclusion -

This is probably the worst game I have played since... well, quite a while. I am slightly reminded of Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, but in many ways this game is worse. At least I could laugh at TP:FoL. Here?... Unwatchable. Unlistenable. Unplayable. Unenjoyable. Un-freaking-believable.

Grade: F. Usually a game has to be bugged to unplayability to garner this grade, but in Necrovision, the unplayability is entirely by design. I hope that every employee of this dev house loses their fingers to frostbite so they can never code such an abomination again.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could not agree with you more, especially the weapon selection.

DimentoGraven said...

Awsome review!

This is why I continue to spend my limited clicks on your site dude.

Bravo!

Psyclone said...

OK...2 things:

1) How the hell did you find/hear about this piece of crap?
2) Love the quote on the cover: "Mental WWI FPS action: Videogamer.com". I googled that quote and discovered it actually came from the description of a TRAILER. I was expecting the actual review to trash the game, yet they gave it a 7/10. Go figure.

Psyclone said...

P.S: Gotta love how they used probably the most overused "trailer song" in recorded history for that trailer, too.

DimentoGraven said...

What made me go, "Ok way too much" on the trailer was, if you noticed, the damn BattleMech they had in it.

Had to laugh...

CitizenLand said...

re; The Bosses. The developers of Necrovision were former members of People Can Fly of "Painkiller" fame. This is supposed to be a sort of unofficial follow-up to that excellent game hence the Boss levels.

If you look hard enough you can see they had some great ideas for this game but like a lot of eastern european devs, they got too ambitious and tried to fit in too much until they ran out of time or money. I did manage to find a bit of fun here and there ut most of it is tedious shiite. too bad, it could've been a fun bedget title.

jaymod said...

Excellently said!
I got the game only because gamespot gave it 7.0 (!)
I find out that the game is horrible;
Although the concept has a great potential.

Anonymous said...

What a load. You need to reconsider what you have said about this amazing game, Who cares if the graphics aren't 'All mighty', if you want graphics go play crysis! you cannot accept NecroVisioN for the art that it is. So the storyline is hollow, so what most games are today. the weapon selection is great, the level designs though sometimes confusing are good, right now this is one of my favourite games, and for good reasons to.

How about next time you write a review, you at least try to pretend that you have played the game!

Poogle said...

Graphics are ok, its true enemies are hard to see but really thats another method of adding difficulty, and when everything is covered in dirt slightly more realistic. Sound wise everything is fine except for the awful one-liners from the protagonist. Story wise its a bit on the clunky popcorn action side, but really you don't buy a zombie-based FPS looking for an awesome plot.

Gameplay I have to agree in part, the weapon menu is frustrating as is the lack of ways to kill the bullet-immune enemies early on. Some you can lure over dynamite, but some don't pursue and you have to run right up to them to lay it.

All in all I'd say it isn't quite as bad as the original review makes it out to be, but I wouldn't give it more than a 5/10 at best.

Gas Bandit said...

Anonymous: About the only thing I complimented was the graphics. Everything else was video game cancer.