Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Thanks to IndiePub for supplying this title to review.
The battle racing genre has been over saturated with lackluster titles lately. So far the only indie title worth a look has been Wheels of Destruction with it’s interesting, “Team Fortress but in cars,” team gameplay while many others are left in the dust. And so, on this slog through battle racers, we come to the newly released Fireburst created by the wittily named ExDream for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Well, we got our hands on the PC version and lets just say I’d rather have stayed on the sidelines.
Fireburst is an ultimately simple racer. You’ve got your average racing mode with 12 tracks to play using one of the 16 different cars and characters you’ll eventually get to play with. Looking at the starting eight characters and vehicles, there is, supposedly, a great difference in their stats. Choose the stereotypically angry midget and a hotrod and the top speed and acceleration go way up, where as the equally stereotypical nerd enhances the heat resistance.
Unfortunately, these stats seem to mean next to nothing once you actually get in-game, making your choices only dictate which irritating cliché character you want to spew line after line of repeated taunts. Don’t get me wrong, the voice acting is rather well done, with the actors giving it their all in their respective roles, but after the 378th time you hear the same taunt in just one match it starts to grate a little.
In terms of game mechanics, there’s nothing to shout about here. You use the arrow keys to move your vehicle, H for the horn (Which is useless but hey, BEEP BEEP!) T for taunt if you like repetitive nonsense being spewed at you, and X for boost/fireburst. The Fireburst element is pretty much the only ‘unique’ thing the game has to offer that you won’t find in countless other games.
Boosting, or Firebursting as the game calls it, essentially makes your vehicle gradually gain heat, catching on fire and so on, allowing you to get a boost of speed in the process. Along the surprisingly varied tracks you’ll find rivers, barrels of water and even puddles that will lower your heat level as you drive through the, extending the time you can boost. Reach full heat and you’ll explode in a rather meaty, auto-mobile enhanced firework of body parts and metal.
And that’s it. There’s no power-ups, no super ramps that fling you 20 miles into the air, no railguns, just explosive barrels and a lot of boosting. Suffice to say it soon gets old.
Where the game does shine is in both its graphics, which are powered by the ever lovely Unreal engine, and in its tracks. With 12 racing and 6 demolition tracks to choose from they are all varied in both layout and design. Be it racing along the narrow bridges of an oil rig or skidding along a half-pipe the tracks are all beautifully rendered and each have their own unique challenges and themes.
When I mentioned demolition tracks I’d expect many readers ears to perk up in delight but don’t get too excited. This is no Burnout classic demolition derby where you can smash opponents cars to tatters with a few rams. Oh no, the mode is made harder by the fact that the only way to kill opponents is to Fireburst into them at high speeds. Unfortunately, this is more than a little hit and miss as the AI seems to be rather picky about just how fast you have to go to destroy someone.
To say demolition mode is a clusterfuck is just a slight understatement…
Augmenting the two basic modes are the singleplayer only challenges. With 8 characters to choose from you’ll play through a number of challenge maps ranging from simple races to killing as many people as you can in a time limit. They’re simple but a nice change of pace to the tedious races and general mayhem of the demolition modes. Through completing these challenges you’ll unlock more vehicles and characters to use in the races but yet again, their only benefit is their repetitive taunts as the stats system remains void of having any effect on the actual gameplay.
But surely, you might ask, isn’t there any fun to be had in the online and spiltscreen multiplayer?! Well boys and girls, no… quite simply.
The online multiplayer is, if you can find an actual match to join which was a challenge in itself, exactly the same as singleplayer. There’s no added challenge from playing against other people because the game itself has no way to mix up the gameplay. With no power-ups or weapons it’s a very mundane affair with no sense of variety that makes the multiplayer useless.
As for splitscreen play you’re better off not even trying as it’s next to impossible to use. Splitscreen is rather strange for a PC title and only reinforces the signs that Fireburst is indeed just another shoddy PC port. There are no controls for splitscreen present in any of the in-game hints or indeed even in the options. As such, splitscreen was unplayable and I honestly still have no idea how you would go about playing it.
And so, unfortunately for ExDream studios, we find that Fireburst is yet another bland ‘battle racer’ to add to the starting grid. While graphically beautiful thanks to the Unreal engine the sheer simplicity of the gameplay, repetitive nature of the character taunts and some alarming texture pop-in and other minor issues that make Fireburst a game best avoided.
If you’re looking for simple racing fun go pick up Trackmania or Blur, otherwise stay away from this cheap, bland cash-in racer…
+ Interesting track layouts and great level design
– Boring Gameplay
– Annoyingly Repetitive Character Taunts
– No power-ups, weapons or anything to make the game actually fun
Gorgeously rendered tracks each with their own unique themes and layouts. The vehicles and effects also stand out well here too but some frame-rate issues and texture pop-in lets it down.
There’s enough VROOM for any car enthusiast but the repetitive taunts soon get annoying. The music is also an acquired taste with American boy bands screaming down the microphone at you throughout the race…
Story?! This is a racing game dammit not a JRPG!
Boring, bland, uninspired, all these words come to mind when playing Fireburst. There’s just not enough to vary the gameplay and while the tracks are all uniquely interesting the lack of any weapons or power-ups to spice up the action make the game more of a chore to play than anything remotely fun.
A small online community, coupled with no splitscreen support and shoddy gameplay mechanics means you’ll be lucky to get a few hours of entertainment out of it before heading back to anything that’s actually remotely fun.
The Verdict: 3
Looking for a fun, long-lasting racer you can play with your friends? Well look elsewhere because Fireburst will only bore you to tears. You’re better off picking up Trackmania or Blur for some fun racing action rather than wasting your hard-earned cash on this lackluster title.