Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior
The road to becoming a fully-fledged Warhammer fanatic is long, expensive and arduous. The Cult Of Games Workshop not only requires its acolytes to devour and eventually regurgitate its many rule-sets, but to buy and lovingly paint hundreds of lead figures before war across the bedroom carpet can even begin.
It takes more than a subscription to White Dwarf magazine and a proficiency in the art of drybrushing to get into the inner circle. High priests in waiting must become one with all of the GW realms, they must befriend the hardcore regulars at their local GW temple and cultivate a liking for metal in all its musical and physical forms. And for your utter devotion you will be forever rewarded with the Curse Of Nurgle' - bubbling acne and the lingering pong of Cheesy Wotsits and white spirits that will shadow you to your doom.
Crudely daubed in acrylics and tissue-wrapped, my own collection of miniatures rests peacefully in dog-eared boxes somewhere in the loft - never to see the light again. I was one of the lucky ones, I managed to get out long before acquinng the cheese-ball whiff and an ear for Napalm Death. But the pull of Warhammer is still strong despite being clean for a decade.
Faced with the prospect of playing Fire Warrior, I honestly feared that it would turn me back down the dark path. Fortunately for the sake of my personal hygiene and the eternal love of a good woman, Fire Warrior - the first FPS to be set in Games Workshop’s 41 st-century war-torn universe - is far less demanding than its tabletop brethren, requiring only a cursory knowledge of the 40K universe and a modest PC to get started.
Curiously, rather than focusing its attentions on the genetically-altered heroes of the Imperial Space Marines, the game casts you as Kais, a fledgling Tau soldier of the Fire Warriors caste about to undergo on-the-job training. The first mission is to spring a high-ranking agent from an Impenal pnson, but over the course of 20 missions it becomes clear that it is the entire Tau race that needs liberating, as ever, from the boundless clutches of the hateful Imperium. Yep, it's one-man-army-saves-galaxy-despite-insurmountable-odds time again.
While the aim of the game is obvious, the storyline does try to twist the plot, at least enough to bring in various enemy units to battle. Impenal troops. Commissars. Space Marines, a Dreadnought and even the omnipresent Chaos legions turn up at various points, all of which will please the Warhammer faithful no end, seeing as they've never been given the 3D game treatment before.
20 Seconds To Comply
Just as pleasing for the same reason are some of the maps; burning Predator tanks lay scuppered in desolate trenches, while later on you get to stalk the corridors of an Imperial Battleship. The weapons too are faithfully recreated, from las-guns, blowtorch-style melta-guns, all the way to bolters and a missile launcher -plus a couple of fixed cannons for good measure. Unfortunately, while the weapons look convincing enough to please the Warhammer faithful, FPS veterans with not a care for the licence will find most of them lacking real punch and, early on especially, rather flimsy and ineffectual. Even when you get the chance to pick up a new weapon there is always something faulty; the M16-style machine gun, for example, has a muzzle flash that practically whites-out most of the screen.
Thankfully, rather than having to rely solely on your arsenal of weapons, you do at least occasionally find yourself fighting alongside other Tau Fire Warriors, some of whom lay down suppressive fire, while others must be protected while they open locked doors. Regardless, all without exception die within 20 seconds of you meeting them.
Without wanting to appear elitist, the problem with Fire Warrior is that it was designed from the outset as a console shooter. Apart from the obligatory high-resolution textures and a rudimentary online mode, very little has been added to make use of the PC’s power. The levels are linear and tight and almost exclusively set through corridors or trenches.
As a result, combat is gratifyingly intense, if somewhat samey. The 3D engine provides for a decent level of detail on some of the characters too, but against this are the common problems that blight many a console shooter: dead bodies that fade away, a complete lack of scenery interaction, no shadow effects and some shockingly basic character animation.
Worst of all the console hang-ups is the Al, which is predictable and slow to react, as if the game still thinks you are playing with a joypad. Enemy soldiers love nothing better than to funnel through a doorway into a hail of grenades, and when they do kneel down to take a shot, a quick sideways dodge is enough to avoid their fire.
And of course there are the two standard console features we PC players must endure: not being able to define key settings in-game and no save feature, except for the usual checkpoints. Thankfully most of the levels are compact so frustration is kept to a minimum.
Fire Warrior certainly isn't the worst shooter to grace our screens. If you can stick with it through the first faltering levels you'll discover there is in fact a very enjoyable game to be had, offering a suitably dark storyline and a bnsk pace of non-stop undemanding action. The FMV cut-scenes are few, but high quality, the dialogue competently delivered by the likes of Tom Baker, Brian Blessed, Burt Kwouk and Sean Pertwee, and the sounds of gunfire are meaty and atmosphenc.
Easy to grasp, Fire Warrior is a game that seems to have been created more for Warhammer fans than FPS veterans. However even those who love Warhammer 40,000 with Cheesy Wotsits-smelling adoration may soon tire of the game, as once you look beyond the universe it’s impossible to ignore the fact that there's little more than a run-of-the-mill FPS lurking beneath.
Compared to the likes of No One Lives Forever 2 and Medal Of Honor, it comes away looking dated and shallow. Had Kuju the time, money or inclination to tailor the game more for PC tastes, it might have been a different story. As it stands, however, we can only recommend it to those game-starved fans who've had to wait an eternity to see the models they pore over brought to life in 3D for the first time.
Is This The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship?
For a setting so visually rich and geographically vast, the number of computer games that have been based in the Warhammer 40K universe has been criminally few. Space Hulk remains the ancient benchmark, but of course that was based purely on the boardgame of the same name, itself a barely disguised dice-based reenactment of Aliens. The wider world of GW’s sci-fi gameworld (a universe that is essentially Lord Of The Rings In Space - with orks, ogres, dwarfs humans and elves all dressed in power armour and wielding lasers), has barely been touched upon, but for a brace of passable turn-based strategy titles. The overlooked truth is that far more so than D&D or any other licence you’d care to mention, Warhammer40,000 could lend itself adequately to any style of gameplay, whether it be RPG, RTS or squad-based shooter. Hopefully Fire Warrior won’t be the last 40K computer game.
Download Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior
Ever Felt perplexed by mankind? Just not connecting with the human race? Well, you're not alone, because so do the Tau. But then they do have the excuse of being an Alien race in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. You, however, should get more fresh air and stop trying to smoke those banana skins.
The Tau may be a relatively new race in the Games Workshop/Warhammer 40K universe, but they're already the stars of their own computer game, Kuju's futuristic shooter Fire Warrior. The game sees you taking on the role of a Tau warrior, one of the races stuck in the middle of an intergalactic battle between two huge forces, the Imperium and the Tryanid.
Like most of its genre pals, Fire Warrior displays influences and features from a number of other hit FPSs. It employs a similar style of combat and defence as Halo, with shield generators and a maximum inventory of two weapons at any one time. Also, as executive producer James Brooksby explains, Fire Warrior dabbles in a bit of Medal of Honor style atmosphere: The first level is a homage to the Omaha beach landing in Medal Of Honor. You come out the back of your dropship and all the other ships are being blown away in the sky. You run out, everyone is dying in front of you, and you realise something has gone very wrong with the mission. MoH was an inspiration for us in terms of gaming atmosphere.
Kuju has also drawn from the likes of Aliens vs Predator for a slightly slower, scarier atmosphere in some of the levels, with the action and pace varying noticeably between fast battlefield action and more tense, isolated gameplay.
Rather unconventionally, all the events and 21 missions in Fire Warrior take place within a single 24 hour stretch. The day in question kicks off with you trying to rescue your captured Tau leader, The Ethereal Ko'Vash, captured by Imperium forces.
As you progress through the game, you're taken through grandiose spaceships based on architecture from the Warhammer 40K world - which James describes as 10 mile long cathedrals in space" - to the vast and labyrinthine Imperium prisons. Along the way you can wield a variety off suitably apocalyptic weapons such as the blast cannon and the pulse rifle, and meet 24 types of enemies and allies.
It's straight ahead, gung-ho shooter type stuff, but the developer promises a top-notch plot with a few twists and turns thrown in. And if that and the pedigree of the Warhammer world wasn't enough, there will be some quality voice acting from the likes of Brian Blessed, Sean Pertwee and Tom Baker.
For a first-person shooter set in the distant future, Fire Warrior looks and plays a lot like 1993. Sure, the sci-fi-meets-satan aesthetic of Doom is indebted to the age-old Warhammer strategy games, and not the other way around, so the cosmetic similarities are excusable, but the pared-down gameplay is not. Fire Warrior is a purely switch-flipping, key-finding, frag-em-all affair, oblivious to any and all genre redefining innovation. After placing bombs on the joints of a walking tank in an hour-long level, for instance, it would've been nice to see the Titan lumber out of its hold and collapse in a smoldering heap. Instead, you faintly hear an explosion as the next scene loads. So much for scripting. Nor will the milquetoast online mode do much to sweeten the bitter pill of monthly broadband fees. Communicating with people is a big part of online gaming's appeal, yet with no text or voice chat options, Fire Warrior muzzles players. What's more, the only way to switch maps or tweak settings is to quit a server and start a new match.
Shawn's right: Absolutely nothing in this future-shocked shooter will actually shock anyone who's played a first-person blaster before. In fact, Warhammer is so crammed with cliches--color-coded door keys, exploding barrels, and grimy environments I swear I've already prowled through in Quake--that it feels like it's just going through the first-person-shooter motions. Levels and enemies get more interesting about halfway through--and multiplayer is a fun-for-a-few-games diversion--but none of that's enough to pluck this game from mediocrity.
I think Fire Warrior deserves a bit more credit than these guys give it. The objectives and most of the gameplay may feel familiar (it actually feels like an attempt to rip off Halo more than anything else), but that's where the cliches end. How many FPSes have you board an enemy ship out in deep space, starting on the outer hull and blasting your way in? Levels like that, along with scripted events and cool art design, eventually got me interested, despite the average graphics and ineffective weapons. Too bad the lazy multiplayer adds no value.
Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is an immersive first-person shooter that plunges you feet first into the world of constant war that is Warhammer, daring you to do anything but emerge the same way you entered ' feet first.
One thing that makes this latest Warhammer experience unique is that you're playing it from the wrong side - instead of taking on the role of a marine in the Imperium of Man, Fire Warrior has you playing out the role of a young Tau Warrior.
While the plot is initially confusing, thrusting you into the middle of a war that you know little about, it goes a long way in capturing the emotion and bewilderment of a young warrior out on his first foray. As your character grows in battle, so does your understanding of what is happening and why.
The game plays like your typical first-person shooter in the vein of, dare I say it, Halo. You can only carry two weapons, you have a regenerating shield and you're fighting your way through a space opera.
Fire Warrior isn't nearly as sophisticated, as Halo and the surroundings are much grittier. The graphics really are superb, lending an air of realism with the occasional visor static, distance blurs and subtle heat waves. A downside to the game is that the levels are very tunnel like in their lay out. The inside levels are all fairly linear and the outside levels are typically in the recesses of huge trenches, so you don't do a lot of meandering. Although the level design is lacking in some ways, the game developers have done a good job of finding strengths in the maps. Instead of spreading things out horizontally, they spread them out vertically. In other words you have bad guys (or should that be good guys?) shooting at your from towers, the rim of the trenches, inside buildings, it makes for a very layered game. The sound effects also go a long way in helping you feel the game with a near constant shuddering barrage of heavy weapons attacks and excellent voice acting.
The multiplayer options are a little light, but what more can you do with a first-person shooter anyway? You get all the usually suspects: death match, team death match, capture the flag plus eight maps to choose from.
Not exactly the best multiplay, but it does extend the game's life a bit.
Fire Warrior is a fun game to play with a unique look and feel that will make Warhammer fans happy and give those new to the genre a unique experience as they blast away.