|a game by||Epic Games|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||7.0/10 - 2 votes|
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Designed by a highly creative group of programmers from Poland and marketed by both Epic Games and Electronic Arts, Fire Fight really represents a breakthrough in arcade shooters. Rather than being a two-dimensional vertical or horizontal scrolling game such as Epic's earlier Tyrian or Apogee's recent Stargunner, in Fire Fight you have much more of a 3D 360-degree feel, with you in full control of which way you fly in your craft and with enemies and targets appearing from all directions. You travel through detailed topography, including under jungle brush which obscures your view of your ship and through heavy snow, but unlike games like Scorched Planet and SWIV you do not move up and down rolling hills and valleys. There are eighteen missions in the game, which involve a variety of objectives including seek and destroy, rescue, and reconnaissance and which require a variety of different skills on the part of the player. Although shooting is the primary action, this is not one of those "shoot-everything-in-sight-to-win" games.
The background story is clearly considered rather incidental to the game, as all one can find out about it appears in three short paragraphs. After a period of devastating war throughout the galaxy, a Phantom Council was formed which established the Ultimate Law. Any uprisings or challenges to this rule are met by teams of the best fighters and operatives to ensure compliance. Your duty is to "uphold the righteousness of the Council -- no questions asked."
The game controls are both intuitive and creative. You may use the keyboard alone, or combine it with a mouse or joystick/gamepad. I find it most convenient to use my Microsoft SideWinder Game Pad for most of the action. Where the innovation comes is in the navigation assistance: around your ship is a circular set of squares, often with an arrow; a square becomes increasingly bright when an enemy is approaching from that direction, while the arrow helps point you toward crucial targets and bases. This system helps with anticipation much more than simply having the sound of nearby objects come from the appropriate directions. Some may find the movement of the craft and the pointing of the weapons counterintuitive, but I find them to be just right for maintaining control in a very busy environment. The method of picking up objects, landing, selecting weapons and using inventory items is similarly easy to master.
The pace of the game is quite frenzied, but not because you are overwhelmed by a flood of enemy ships, as is often the case in games of this sort. You often need to seek a quiet spot in order for your shields to have a chance to regenerate. The artificial intelligence of the enemy ships is impressive, and the multiplayer option allows for really fun gameplay. My only gripe is that you have to work your way up through the eighteen missions to play them; I far prefer games (such as Sierra's Hunter/Hunted) that allow you to start with any mission you wish.
The multi-level parallax scrolling graphics are truly the most outstanding feature on the game. In high-resolution mode, the scenery and targets are exquisitely detailed and beautiful to fly through, around and under. When one destroys a target, the explosion involves animated pieces of shrapnel and fire that can only be described as the most realistic I have ever seen on the computer (fire and water are the two most difficult natural phenomena to depict accurately). Shadowing effects are also extremely well done. I have simply never seen a more visually impressive game of this type on the PC.
The music in the game is superb -- bouncy, riveting, and exhilarating. The sound effects are just fine, with lots of loud and booming explosions. The voice transmissions are a bit scratchy, just as one would expect with radio wave transmissions received in the field. As is typical in DirectX applications, the actual quality of the audio is much higher than in most non-DirectX games.
Required: Pentium 60 megahertz CPU, 8 MB RAM, SVGA video card with 512 kilobytes of video RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95, DirectX, and 40 MB of hard drive space for Windows swap file
Two nice features characterized the game setup. The first, which is rather unusual, is that assuming you have DirectX drivers already loaded on your system, the game itself takes up no hard disk space and is run directly from the CD. This stands in sharp contrast to the increasing tendency for games to require both that their CDs be in the CD-ROM drive and that huge amounts of hard disk space be consumed as well. The second positive feature, which is becoming a bit more common these days, is that a second copy of the game CD is included in the package so as to facilitate multiplayer network play.
An occasional glitch occurred in starting the application, particularly after running other programs. What sometimes happens is that after running the Loader, the system freezes, and one has to reboot and then restart the game again.
As has become all too common in recent CD-ROM games, the hard copy documentation consists of a skimpy user's manual contained in the jewel case. While the manual is well-written, well-organized, and well-illustrated, it contains only the barest essentials for playing the game.
As a die-hard fan of the action shooter genre, I love this game. It takes graphics and gameplay to the next level beyond what has previously been available. Rather than simply increasing the challenge by adding more numerous and more powerful adversaries, Fire Fight takes a more intelligent approach. You will not be the least bit disappointed if you enjoy this kind of arcade experience.