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Guns for Hire
The premise of Hired Guns sounds intriguing even if it is explained somewhat cheesily on the back of the box. This is a turn-based strategy game in which you choose missions, put together squads of grizzled guns for hire and then control them directly in the field. It promises an open ended experience where you will choose your own fate. The screenshots even look quite appealing but fire this game up and it soon becomes apparent what a complete turkey this is.
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Not since the early days of comical Japanese translations have I seen a game so poorly translated as this. Hired Guns is originally a Russian game and some of the text in this very text heavy game looks as though it was put through one of those useless translation websites. If you are going to release a game to English speakers then the least you can do is have someone who actually understands the language look over your game before release. If they had done that it would have been immediately apparent that this title needed a lot more work before it hit the stores.
Everything is explained via text so trying to work out what they mean through the awkward phrasing is quite a challenge in itself. You start on your map screen with access to the Internet. This is where soldiers of fortune do business and you can receive missions via email, hire mercenaries and buy weapons online. You can also undertake the strangest psychological test I have ever encountered which is so poorly translated it made me laugh out loud a few times.
You can select potential recruits and see a fact file which reveals their speciality, you can even have a quick phone conversation and they’ll decide based on your rep whether they want to join your team or not. Once you have hired a few mercenaries you organise them into a squad. You have several squads with empty slots organised with animal names. Having made up Hyena squad, for example, you need to make sure that they all have guns and also that their guns have ammunition. The set up is pretty tedious. When you are ready for action you can choose a mission from the marked spots on the map.
This is where things get really strange. You place your squad out in the field, each map is a top down view and then you can move them around individually. As they stalk around and perform actions they use up action points and once these are gone you have to end your turn and let the enemy have a turn. Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that turn based gameplay does not work for this kind of game. My first turn I walked a man into a heavily guarded hut, picked up all their ammunition and cash and then dropped a grenade into the center of the room. My solider then ran out of action points and lay down in the corner. I hit the end turn button and after some jerky animation my guy disappeared and it informed me he was dead. It was a struggle to try and keep playing because this sucks beyond belief.
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Hired Guns is not going to be competing with the latest releases in terms of visuals. The textures and models lack detail, the resolution on the opening cut scene is unbelievably low, as though they applied a filter to try and hide how awful it looks. The maps are incredibly dull and uninspired. The idea of accessing the mission interface and hiring via your laptop was good but the presentation is once again very basic. What makes matters worse is that enemy turns don’t always seem to actually display, sometimes it just jumps as though their turn is over but what they did is a complete mystery. The individual character design is quite good and sometimes the game looks passable from the right angle. For the most part though, Hired Guns is an ugly game and there were several visual bugs on show.
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You can probably guess what is coming here. In keeping with the rest of this cheap, shoddy production the sound is mind numbingly awful. There is a complete lack of ambient sound to give the environments any sense of reality, sound effects in general are very sparse and feedback is definitely lacking. The one area of the game they put a bunch of audio in for is the voiceovers. Now I’m puzzled, if they actually hired English speaking actors to voice this rubbish why did none of them point out that the lines don’t make sense in English? Everything the characters say is either super cheesy or badly translated and most lines are a mixture of the two.
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Are you still here? Do you really need to know this? If for some strange masochistic reason you would like to run this game then you’ll need a 2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a GeForce 6200 or above graphics card and DirectX 9c compatible sound. You are going to need about 5GB of hard drive space and I’d guess the bulk of that is bad voiceover audio.
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There is a quite a bit of depth to Hired Guns and completing a game could take you a while. You could also replay and have a different experience which compensates for the lack of any multiplayer option. What it can’t compensate for is the fact this is no fun at all to play. I’m not a fan of the turn based approach when you are commanding teams of gunmen and women in combat situations, it just seems daft. In Hired Guns they have overpowered the enemies and made much of the combat total guesswork. Combine that with the inescapable feeling of low budget, low quality and low standards and there is no way this could ever be recommended. If I paid money for this I would be angry. Fans of turn-based games like X-COM or Jagged Alliance might get something out of this, for me it was simply dreadful.