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Every single 40K fan knows that the license is cursed when it comes to video games. Aside from an acclaimed RTS series and the surprisingly good Space Marine (which won’t get a sequel, ever), pretty much all of the other licensed 40K games are either outright terrible or barely cling on to the mediocre territory. That doesn’t stop AA studios from borrowing the license and Games Workshop from giving it out like free candy. While I’m more of a Warhammer fantasy guy (thanks Vermintide), I do appreciate a good romp in the 41st millennium when I can. This time, Streum On studio, the people behind the uniquely weird EYE, and the not-so-good co-op FPS Space Hulk: Deathwing is taking their shot with Necromunda: Hired Gun, a fast-paced FPS set in Hive City, a wretched place with a serious population control issue. So, let’s get right down to it.

Right from the get-go, Necromunda: Hired Gun doesn’t make a good impression when it comes to storytelling. Set in the densely populated Hive City of scum and villainy, you play as a hired gun, a bounty hunter sent to track the murderer of a member of the merchant guild. Apparently, the guild is the closest thing to the law around these parts, and shooting a fellow member in the head is a very bad idea. Sadly, you are ambushed before you can find the culprit. Saved by the legendary Kal Jerico, you are given the Adam Jensen treatment and are cybernetically augmented. Then you spend the next 6 hours or so getting to the bottom of things. It’s not a good story, nor is it presented in an interesting way. But you don’t play a game like these for the story. As long as the gameplay is good. Right?

Necromunda: Hired Gun makes it obvious that it’s clearly inspired by the new Doom games, at least when it comes to combat. Sadly, that is the only aspect of gameplay that is cohesive and consistent. A dive called Martyr’s End acts as the main hub, from which the player is allowed to purchase supplies, guns, skill points, and select their missions. The hub, while visually pleasing, is very static and things don’t change between runs with every NPC glued to their seats like cardboard cutouts.

The combat, or to be specific, the gunplay is pretty solid and is one of the few things that holds the game together. It’s fast-paced, frantic, and fluid, with punchy guns and some devastating skills you can acquire. It’s not as tight as a AAA fps and definitely is janky, as expected from the folks who made EYE. You can wall run, dash, slide, double jump, and even use a grappling hook to diversify your combat prowess. It is worth noting that while the movement is fluid and gives you lots of options, it can also be a bit too loose and floaty at times resulting in some frustrating platforming during combat. There are also glory-kills-inspired finishing moves present but their animations are often out of sync and take you out of the experience. Moreover, the chances of them happening are not dependent upon whether you stun the enemy or not. You can just walk up to any normal enemy type and press a button to activate a badly animated execution.

The biggest problem with Hired Gun is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. The game comprises elements from looter shooters such as randomized weapon drops, RPG mechanics in terms of multiple unlockable and upgradable skills, the competent level design from a story-driven FPS, and more. However, the game ends up being a jack of all trades as a result. The weapon drops don’t have much variety and you see pretty much everything there is to see in the first 2 hours (the same goes for enemy types). A lot of skills are downright useless (looking at you, my mutilated doggo companion). And the level design can go from outright excellent to recycled assets. The end result is that you get a game that shows signs of brilliance on occasion but for the most part, it is a boring tread through an uninspired campaign.

Canis Canem Edit

Despite what I think of the gameplay, no one can take this one thing away from Streum On Studio- their passion for the 40K universe. From the visuals design to the atmosphere to the lore, everything is crafted with the utmost respect and love towards the 40K universe. While the graphical fidelity and sound design may not be as consistent as I wanted it to be, the particle effects, lighting, and post-processing are very well implemented to deliver the oppressing and brutal tone Underhive is famous for. The game does look a bit too soft and blurry by default but a trip to Nvidia control panel’s sharpness setting quickly fixed that.

It’s a shame that the same cannot be said for the performance. Even with a Ryzen 5 5600x and an RTX 3070, the game has trouble maintaining constant 144 fps. Though I haven’t faced many dips below 90, the random stuttering can be a day ruiner for many.

Real Talk

I wanted to like Necromunda: Hired Gun, I really did. There were times when I was blazing through the levels, sliding and gliding and shredding mook thugs to pieces in a hail of gunfire and explosion. But these moments were few and far between in the relatively short single-player campaign. Technical issues, a lack of polish, and the lack of an engaging gameplay loop make Necromunda: Hired Gun a not-so-stellar experience. Unless you’re a die-hard fan who’s so desperate that you can endure a mediocre game, it’s best to stay clear of Necromunda: Hired Gun for the time being.



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