Firestarter Review

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Graphics: 6.0
Sound : 3.5
Gameplay : 4.0
Multiplayer : 4.5
Overall : 4.5
Review by Steven Ziegler
Too many games are released undesirable these days, whether they are extraordinarily horrible, or just filled with bugs. Firestarter is a great example of one. Firestarter promises a great storyline: A story line that hasn't already been used. Also, Firestarter features upgradeable stats through its RPG enabled gameplay. While these sound like excellent ideas, Firestarter fails bring out the full potential.

Everyone thinks being a reviewer would be a dream job. While I have to agree with them, there is always those occasions when a game comes along that is very bad. Then what are you going to do? Of course you’re going to have to play it, and then there comes the nightmare of reviewing the game. Many times you want to question your career as a game reviewer. Firestarter fills this position with ease.

I'm not going to make you painstakingly read through a whole review, filled with negative rants, to tell you how Firestarter is. I’m going to tell you now: It’s lost in its own story line. While there is a great story line, the gameplay revolves nothing around it. The only thing Firestarter has running for it is the graphics. Of course while they’re not Far Cry great, they are still neat to look at.

As we all know, GSC Game World is in the process of making S.T.A.L.K.E.R, a promising game with outstanding looking graphics and an interesting storyline. Obviously, all the effort is being put forth for S.T.A.L.K.E.R . Firestarter is poorly placed together, and in my opinion, a waste of twenty dollars.

A Virtual Reality machine has been plagued with a virus, and you can’t escape unless you beat the game within 48 hours. Now it is your responsibility to make it out...alive

Gameplay

When a game promises so many features, you have to expect something good. However, Firestarter is quite possibly the opposite. On the box it states, “Ultra dynamic gameplay with RPG elements.” At least they managed to get the RPG elements correct. After progressing through each linear level, you are given upgrades based on your performance. The gameplay has an Unreal Tournament feeling, minus the huge maps, exciting weapons, and interest.

When Firestarter boots up, an interesting introduction movie starts. While this might sum up what is happening to you, the gameplay doesn't follow the storyline. The levels are extremely linear. Once a monster appears, you are commanded to destroy it. Rinse and repeat.

To add a little twist to the gameplay, you are given six character classes to choose from. Classes range from Marine, Policemen, Agent, to a Mutant. Each class has his/her own special abilities. For instance, the Gunslinger has fast reactions and great accuracy while the Agent has incredible speed. Even though each player has different abilities, gameplay still remains as a run-and-gun shooter. After collecting the upgrades, a difference in performance is hardly noticeable.

Surviving revolves around you collecting 'artifacts'. Once an artifact appears on screen, you are given a very short amount of time to capture it. The time you are given depends on what level of difficulty is on. What strikes me odd is that sometimes, the artifacts appear across the map. When you are only given a few seconds to get it, the difficulty becomes unbearable. If you happen to not make it in time, the game will abruptly end (This will happen a lot). The artifacts not only appear once during a level, but several times, increasing the difficulty dramatically.

The Weapons that are featured in Firestarter are very basic. On the box, it states that there are 20 different weapons. In actuality, there are only nine. The remaining eleven are based on ' heavy' modifications that supposedly raise your weapon's stats. Some weapons have a second feature, such as propelled grenades. The damage isn't balanced correctly. For instance, to kill a flame throwing mutant, I had to shoot more then three correctly placed missiles. Differences between 'normal’ and 'heavy’ weapons aren’t properly defined to cast the feeling that the weapon is stronger.

Audio

Firestarter's audio presentation relies on a futuristic techno vibe. Weapon's sound effects are dulled out to a point where you can't hear them due to the music. That might be a good thing, because when you tune down the music, the weapons sound effects are dull.

Graphics

GSC created Firestarter with a brand new 'Firestarter' engine. Each level's textural design is closely similar to the next. Glossy surroundings manage to stick out. Everything from the walls, to your gun, shine like a bald person after a waxing. Special effects also stick out, especially the flame thrower. Firestarter is very bloody. When enemies fire at you, blood will splatter across the screen.

The creatures resemble disfigured beasts. These 'creations’ have weapons genetically mutated on them, and send chills down your back. The detailing on the monsters is great enough to cast the situation you’re in. After monsters venture close to you, a tacky bullet-time effect kicks in. Sometimes the bullet-time can get in the way of intense battles. Speaking of intense battles, the Firestarter Engine handles them well. At most times, more then a couple of creatures are in the same area as you, and the battle doesn’t slow down a bit.

Conclusion

Even though Firestarter recommends a 2 GHz, 512mb RAM, and a 128mb Video card, it ran smoothly on my system with all of the above- except I have a 64mb Video Card. Older systems will be able to play. Multiplayer is featured, but not too many people are playing, and that is a good thing. If you manage to buy this game, burn it. Firestarter isn’t worth it, even if it is twenty-dollars. Let’s all join in hands and pray that S.T.A.L.K.E.R is much better. This only leads me to one question- why IS this title’s name Firestarter?