If you ever had an Amiga, chances are you had a copy of Hired Guns. Essentially it was a futuristic RPG but in hindsight it had a lot more in common with Doom than most people would give it credit for. Basically, your aim was to progress through a series of levels shooting aliens and opening doors - no suprises there. What was so different about it was that you controlled a team of four mercenaries, each of whom enjoyed a first-person 3D view taking up a quarter of the screen. You could play on your own, which was tricky but satisfying. But the game came into its own when you had three others around the screen along with you. It was the closest you'd get to a cooperative Doom session on the Amiga. Of course us PC owners had better things to do, especially those of us fortunate enough to enjoy the benefits of multiplayer gaming over a LAN or the Net. Importantly though, not since the original Hired Guns have we been privy to a game where we could direct a team of ruthless gung-ho cybermercenaries. Which is exacdy why Devil's Thumb Entertainment have decided to reanimate the rotting corpse of a once-great game. The multiplayer game will no doubt rock, but it's the single-player game - we hope - that will kickstart the whole genre into new life. And so, five years later, Hired Guns returns with a 3D makeover. As with the original, you control four characters, each one a specialist. With more characters comes more intricate puzzles. For example, you might have to send one bloke to tinker with the power while everyone else sneaks through a door, leaving one poor bastard searching for an alternative route. Hang on though, haven't we heard all this before? Sounds a bit too similar to X-COM Alliance for our liking. Well, yes, both games will have us in control of four-man squads, and both make use of the Unreal engine. The difference is that where Alliance has research elements, Hired Guns should offer more of an RPG feel. Both games add a squad-level tactical element that the original Hired Guns pioneered.
So far, then, it sounds like the developers could well be on to a winner. And it gets better. Devil's Thumb assure us of a wealth of environments yet to be seen in the game, with each mission looking different to the last. There are a planned 17 weapons, some with as many as four alt-fire functions. Thirty-five different enemy types are also promised. And best of all, there will be vehicles for your team to utilise.
The original Hired Guns had a fairly basic multiplayer game. At a time before LANs and super-fast modems, the only way to play against your chums was to huddle together and sniff each other's armpits. Now, of course, we don't have to invade each other's personal space. Hired Guns enables the usual wealth of coop and deathmatch options, with players controlling either individuals or teams.
We have only two reservations about this new breed of 3D shoot 'em up. One is whether current PCs can handle the strain, the other is whether the developers can overcome what could be a colossal AI problem. After all, it's bad enough playing against computer-controlled f**kwits, but it's even worse when they're supposed to be on your side. Will the Thumbs pull it off? We shall soon find out.
Download Hired Guns
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP