REVIEW: John Wick Hex will kill a few hours, but isn't as on-target as it could've been
Fans of the assassin series will definitely find a lot to like here.
Okay, let us get the good stuff out of the way first.
Any time spent in the universe of John Wick can only be a good thing, especially after the epic brilliance that was John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum earlier this year.
John Wick Hex is a prequel to the movies, back before his wife died and his puppy was killed, and is pinned around Winston and Charon (Ian McShane and Lance Reddick, both returning to the roles) being kidnapped by the power-hungry Hex (Troy Baker), with Wick sent in to save them.
Reeves hasn't returned to voice the role, but the game does give you full access to his particular set of skills, as the turn-based-shooter stops time every time you finish an action, or spot a new target, allowing you to choose your next target or make your next move.
This is all seamlessly patched together at the end of each level, as your watch a repeat of your actions, and Wick's shots, punches, kicks, dodges, rolls, and throws-guns-at-heads in one, flawless action.
It is matched with some pretty nifty graphic novel visuals, and a decent foreboding techno soundtrack.
But, and you knew this was coming, it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.
While the franchise of John Wick does lend itself to a big-budget third-person shooter, it was an interesting move to go more low-key with the game adaptation, but why turn-based-shooting?
Surely the way to go would've been more in line with Hotline Miami, a frenetic, all-out, hyper-violent blaster that you plough into over and over again until you get it right?
Instead, we get this stop-start action game, which just doesn't flow well with what we know of John Wick. We get the idea - that playing it back will make it look like you are the flawless killing machine all along - but making one wrong step will have Wick walking all over the map in the repeat, which immediately undermines the inherent coolness of the character.
It is sporadically fun, and it isn't a matter of just memorising where the baddies are, as dying-and-restarting won't spawn all the targets to the same place they were in last time, but over the multiple levels and stages, it does begin to get a little repetitive.
The movies could get around that by putting Wick on a horse, or giving him a samurai sword, or having him using fighting dogs. The game can only give you the same guns, and a slightly different backdrop to shoot people against.
John Wick Hex is available on PC and Mac from Tuesday 8 October.
Clip via GameSpot Trailers