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'Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior' (PS2) Review
written by Greg Bemis on Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Hear that sound? That's the collective yawn of thousands of gamers. You see, yet another uninspired shooter has been released. And the lucky folks at "X-Play" get to review it for you. We're talking about "Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior." The sad thing is that it had the potential for greatness. How did it fail? Read on.
It's like 'Warhammer,' but 40,000 years in the future
Strategy board gamers should be very familiar with the "Warhammer" universe. It's been a popular setting for tactical tabletop games for years. Videogamers have had run-ins with the franchise as well -- from the lukewarm real-time strategy game "Shadow of the Horned Rat" to the oft-misunderstood tactical strategy gem "Space Hulk." Now we're introduced to "Fire Warrior," a much more action-oriented take on "Warhammer."
Taking place in a bleak, distant future, "Fire Warrior" is about a race of beings who, for some reason, named themselves after a Greek letter. The Tau are a young but proud race steeped in a mystical caste-type society. Three cheers for cliché! After a high-ranking Tau official is capture by those awful, nasty humans, it's up to a brash "Fire Warrior" upstart to lead a bold rescue attempt. That would be you. As the game progresses, things go from bad to worse, story-wise. As far as gameplay goes, things never get off the ground.
It's like 'Halo,' but seven years behind the times
The people at Bungie really ought to clean up their offices every now and then, because clearly someone from the "Fire Warrior" development team saw the design doc for "Halo" lying around and decided to "borrow" it. Well, you know what they say. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
The people at Kuju Games were really smart to lift some of the more intriguing design ideas from "Halo." You can only carry two weapons. As a Fire Warrior you're honor-bound to keep a Tau energy weapon at your side at all times. That leaves room for only one other weapon. Usually you find one you like and stick with it through the level. There are a few cases where you need a specific weapon to pass, but usually you can find the one you need nearby. Sadly the weapons don't offer the visceral kick you'd expect. There are only a few generic death animations and almost no reaction when you hit enemies, so it's hard to tell if you're hitting anything.
The other "Halo"-inspired feature is the regenerating shield. Getting hit depletes your personal shield. Avoid combat for a few moments and it'll regenerate. But in "Fire Warrior" you can lose all your shield power in about one second. So unlike "Halo," where there was some strategy involved in knowing when to retreat and when to stick it out, "Fire Warrior" ends up playing like a vanilla first-person shooter.
Find the magenta key to open the magenta door
Vanilla is a pretty good word for the gameplay. The missions usually have you planting an explosive somewhere. In order to get to your objective you negotiate a series of hallways and rooms. Even on the first level, which takes place outdoors, you're stuck in a narrow trench. There are no open space to explore, so gun battles lack strategic finesse. There are places to find cover, but it's just as easy to run in and start blasting. In addition, grenades do almost no damage unless you hit your target directly, so you can't use them to clear a room.
Worse yet, "Fire Warrior" brings back the old "find the colored key to open the colored door" thing. This is a game mechanic as tired and played-out as the rest of the game. Couple that with enemy AI that only knows how to run at you and shoot, and we're back to the days of "Doom." Trouble is, we've already played "Doom" and don't feel like playing it again, unless it's "Doom 3."
At least the control is tight
The game handles really well. The controls are responsive and the play is pretty smooth. Although the visuals aren't state-of-the-art, they're serviceable. All of this leads us to believe that the game was rushed. There's a peculiar lack of in-game music that, when paired with the spartan sound effects, makes the game feel lifeless.
"Fire Warrior" has some good technology behind it, but the level design and gameplay leave a lot to be desired. Adding online multiplayer is nice and all, but with only a few maps to choose from it feels like an afterthought. With so many other games out there, it's hard to imagine anyone but the most die-hard "Warhammer 40K" fan getting anything out of this game. "Fire Warrior" is all wet.