Hired Guns is an action/adventure/RPG hybrid using square-based movements, à la Dungeon Master, in which up to four players can take part and set in a futuristic setting. The screen is split into 4 parts (or 3 in case 3 players play together), each one representing the viewpoint of the characters, these being selected from a team of 12 available mercenaries.
If one player plays alone, he will control all 4 characters, using the mouse to navigate between each character viewpoints. A follow mode is available to avoid tedious numerous amounts of clicking when moving several characters. If two players play together, then each player will use a mouse to control two characters.
In three or four-player mode, players can freely choose to control their characters via either a joystick/joypad or some of the predefined keyboard layouts or a mouse. When 4 people play together, the screen will display 4 viewpoints, like in 1 and 2-player modes. In 3-player mode, the top of the screen displays two viewpoints for player 1 and 2, but the lower part of the screen displays a single viewpoint, centered, for player 3.
Three game modes are available.
The Training mode features 5 simple maps on which the player(s) can learn how to move, use inventory items etc...
The Full Campaign mode takes the player(s) to the far reaches of the Luyten planetary system, on the planet Graveyard. Battling through more than 20 theaters of engagement, your team of mercenaries test their limits of military prowess in order to wipe out all threats on the planet surface. To this end, they have to make their way through the different missions and gather 4 fusion power core rings, before entering the final mission in the Spaceport.
Finally, in Short Action game mode, the player(s) can choose between 17 maps. On those maps, the player(s) will have to fight some enemies to reach the exit within a specified time limit. Additionally, when more than one player takes part in the mission, players will compete with each other since only the first to reach the exit will win.
Hired Guns is a neat futuristic RPG that allows you to control 4 characters simultaneously via 4 windows. The plot, which would send your band of galactic mercenaries on a wide variety of missions, is nonexistent at the start but develops into an interesting story of intergalactic espionage and warfare.
What made the game stand out, even to this day, was the multi-player elements. The screen showed the viewpoints of 4 characters - you either controlled them all yourself, or could have a different person controlling each one. The depth of the gameplay is what catapulted the game to classic status. The level of cooperation needed, and using different players to complete different tasks, is something that all recent 3D games have missed.
Being a multi-player game, it was only a matter of time before you turned on the person who kept falling off the cliff, and shot him in the back. This soon turned into a full-scale death-match, even though the game didn't support them as such. You could also customise the character graphics to your heart's content. The variety of weapons, monsters, and locations make up for repetitive graphics, below-average writing, and scarce character interactions.
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