Necromunda: Hired Gun is the latest in a long string of Warhammer titles, set in the rather underused Necromunda universe which is part of the 40K side of Warhammer. A Steampunk/Rustpunk fusion with fast-paced first-person shooting action should be an instant victory right? Let’s dig deep and find out.
Down in the Dumps
As mentioned, Necromunda: Hired Gun is set in the fictional Sci-Fi world of Warhammer 40k. More precisely, in the undercity of Hive City; Think the dirty unloved streets of Blade Runner, but covered in scrap, rubbish, and the dregs of society.
You play an unnamed Bounty Hunter who is off to earn some coin. The way life works, you soon find yourself deep in the depths of a conspiracy. As with any good FPS, the best way to solve it is by systematically working your way through the gang and racking up quite the body count while you do it. You end up working alongside Hal Jerico who a little research tells me is quite an iconic character within the Warhammer universe.
The story didn’t do anything for me sadly. It’s a little basic in its execution and possibly requires you to be a die-hard Warhammer fan to get the most of it. It’s not more of a fun ride like titles such as Warhammer 40K: Space Marine.
The delivery of the story isn’t the strongest here. Audio levels have a massive impact on this and this is something I will discuss later on.
The Walls of Jerico
As mentioned Necromunda: Hired Gun is a first-person shooter, something that is sadly rare within the Warhammer game series. Note that it isn’t to be confused with Necromunda: Underhive Wars which is more of a traditional strategy game.
The actual meat of the game involves shooting many many people with many many guns. Jerico takes it upon himself to “mod” you and give you enhancements. These are customizable throughout the game and offer different abilities to tackle situations such as an aimbot ability and a “slow-mo” feature.
A few levels into the story you acquire a grappling hook and it’s here you see the true scope of what the developers at Sterum On Studio were aiming for. Necromunda: Hired Gun is one of the most vertical shooters I have ever played. Following in the footsteps of the mighty Doom Eternal, you’ll find yourself wall running then grappling across the combat arenas acting like the world’s smallest and most nimble, weapon of mass destruction.
Weapon feedback feels great and connects with the player which is a huge plus. The level design sadly doesn’t quite take advantage of the player’s mobility which is a damn shame; You’ll find yourself using usual FPS tactics rather than going to the extra effort of wall-running and grappling because they are never really needed in any engagement.
There are hidden loot boxes through the levels where you can find various weapons and equipment. Much like other looter shooters, you open the crates, they eject the loot and you scroll through it. Unlike other loot titles, you can’t find out the stats on the stuff until the end of the level which is an utterly baffling system. I cannot think of a single reason why the developers wouldn’t want you to know the stats mid-level.
The game bosses are just more testament to my personal feeling that FPS bosses are either phenomenal or dire, this being the latter. Tanky enemies await with no really special defining traits and often become common enemies later on.
Talking of afterthoughts, you have a cyber mastiff, yes a robot doggo! A button press summons your hound of doom and then you can point them in the right direction. Then just watch them chow down. Aside from that it doesn’t do or add anything? Lore maybe.
The general gameplay loop of the game once you’ve blown holes through the prologue stage is you start at the hub area Martyr’s End. This area has various NPCs to chat with, merchants, an arena to test weapons, and the bounty board where you select which mission to go to. You head out from here.
Necromunda: Hired Gun has light RPG elements in the fact you have a skill tree that changes your abilities. Like the rest of this game, it doesn’t seem essential or thought out but more like it was just added as it’s the in-thing.
Finally, there are several side missions you can pick up for extra playtime. They don’t add anything significant and generally just provide weapons and money rather than adding to the narrative. They usually see you in previous areas completing objectives such as surviving hordes of enemies or destroying stashes of weapons.
If Looks could Ship Games
Necromunda: Hired Gun manages to be one of the best and worst looking games I have played in a while.
First off the art direction and the atmosphere is top-notch. One section has you making your way across settlements that have been built alongside a train track. The way that trains passing change the lighting, coupled with the darkness and steam effects nail the rustpunk, downtrodden junk look that Necromunda is themed around.
I followed this up by promptly unloading a shotgun shell into an enemy who glitched out, his blood texture started to flicker, and his weapon bouncing around the screen with wild abandon. The deck of cards fell much quicker than they stacked.
Some textures in the game look fantastic whereas others, especially in sections with bright lighting look distinctly last-gen at best. If this game didn’t nail the atmosphere so well with the particle and lighting effects, then it wouldn’t be so easy to forgive the visual glitches that run rampant throughout.
I found that no matter what settings I tweaked, the game never felt truly smooth and I couldn’t figure out why. One session I booted up the game and it just ran, like sliding on ice. I hadn’t changed any settings or updated anything, it just worked better.
The Sound of Rust and Rubbish
Sound in Necromunda: Hired Gun is a total write-off and is the main factor of me not following or caring for the story.
While the explosions and gunfire sound fantastic and weighty, the vocal mix and direction of audio is all kinds of screwed. I could barely hear some people while others seemed to be screaming in my face.
The music was quite good with a heavy lean on the more metal side of things. While a completely subjective topic, I feel the music here really helped set the tone and kept the blood flowing when the bullets and bodies were flying.
I like Necromunda: Hired Gun but it is far from being anything other than distinctly average. It has a great Sci-Fi Fantasy atmosphere and some fantastic action within. Sadly it’s marred with a lack of innovation, level design issues, glitches throughout, and inconsistent performance. It’s worth a look at on sale, and if you enjoy Warhammer titles. Otherwise, there are better, less glitchy alternatives around.
WAIT FOR SALE ON NECROMUNDA: HIRED GUN
Many thanks go to GOG.com & Focus Entertainment for a PC review code for this title.
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