Sunday, August 16, 2009

Real Heroes: Firefighter Review

I really wanted to love this game. Firefighters are pretty much the unsung heroes of our time, and the idea of a first person firefighting game for the Wii is a highly appealing concept that could really set the Wii ablaze (Sorry, bad pun) if pulled off effectively. But alas, Real Heroes: Firefighter is anything but heroic, as many contributing factors make it just your average Wii game with a few shining moments here or there but not enough to burn a hole in the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere (Sorry again, no more fire puns, I promise).

Let’s start off with the graphics, as they’re sure to be a sore point for this game. I’ve never been a graphics whore in the past and if the graphics on a great game are subpar, then I’ll usually turn a blind eye to them and note the game’s other stellar qualities instead. But this game seriously looks like a Nintendo 64 game; better stated, this game seriously looks like Goldeneye 64, which wouldn’t be so bad if so much of the gameplay didn’t rely on scoping out the background for what you have to do next. There were instances where I seriously had no idea what I was doing because the graphics are so last (last) gen, which led me to be frustrated as the game clearly tells you what you’re SUPPOSED to be doing, but since so many objects blend into the background, I had a hard time deciphering how exactly I was supposed to do it. All this made me want to do was put the game down and let the building burn to a crisp, as it really didn’t matter to me after awhile since I wound up getting so frustrated in the end.

But the graphics aren’t the only reason why I was frustrated, as the clunky controls added to my overall dissatisfaction as well. The reason why a FPS like Halo works (Even though I hate it) is that the control sticks really aren’t all that far apart on the X-Box controller, making aiming and moving around not much of a problem and easy to pick up and play after only a few rounds of fragging. But using a Wiimote and nunchuck combo just doesn’t bare the same results as many times with Real Heroes: Firefighter, if I didn’t point the Wiimote directly at the sensor, my character would be shooting water aimlessly all over the place instead of where I intended to shoot. Never is this more of a problem than when you’re trying to rescue people from a burning room and you’re spraying everywhere but at the flames themselves. You have no idea how many times I was burned to bits just because I wasn’t hitting what I really wanted to hit. It’s aggravating because I was really trying, and the more I seemed to try, the less I seem to hit. Arg!

Also aggravating is the fact that sometimes, I had no idea what the game wanted me to do next, as the arrow that shows you where to go, while helpful, only achieves so much. One example of arrow malfunction is when I was supposed to clear a doorway so my partner could get into the room, but no matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. A dresser was blocking the doorway, but I couldn’t push, break, or shoot it with my water, so I had no idea how I was to go about moving it, even though the arrow kept pointing towards the dresser the entire time. In fact, I STILL don’t know how to open that door. My poor partner is still standing outside the building somewhere while I’m writing this article, stranded because of poor communication with the player.

But that’s not to say that everything about this game bothers me, as it does have some plusses that truly save the day. The objectives, for one (besides the ones you get stuck at), are pretty fun, as you’ll be tasked with doing everything from rescuing workers from a flaming building, to breaking down doors with an ax, to getting on an actual fire truck and shooting out flames from the top of it. You know, fireman stuff.

And surprisingly, one thing that this game isn’t lacking, even though your only villain here is fire, is variety, and it gives you enough objectives to make you want to continue playing—until you get stuck, of course. Also, the voice work is commendable, as James Marsters (Better known as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Futurama’s John Di Maggio, and comedian, Jaime Kennedy, add nice little perks to the game if you can actually pick out their voices.

Not only that, but the fire is actually a pretty formidable foe and it’s really quite scary when it starts exploding out of control all over the rooms, hitting the ceiling, walls and floor in an instant just when you think you’ve got everything under control. If this is what real firefighting is like, then hats off to the boys and girls in yellow and black for not soiling their suits every time they go on a mission, as even in a game with poor visuals like this one, the fire is pretty intimidating as it snakes around the halls and floors.

All in all, though, with confusing graphics, sloppy controls, and difficult to complete objectives, Real Heroes: Firefighting doesn’t reach the spiraling heights that you’re hoping it will. But it’s still a promising introduction from upstart company, Conspiracy, all the same, and the price is certainly right at only thirty dollars. I’d like to see what they could do with a bigger budget and a few more folks on their team. A sequel with more money backing it could definitely bear great things.

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