A growing number of gamers have expressed being affected by an ailment known as first person shooter fatigue. The disorder is caused by an overexposure to the firearm-based diversions, and may be directly triggered by the homogeneity of the genre. Those overwhelmed by the syndrome share a common complaint- the woeful similarity of shooters. It’s likely the developers at Epicenter Studios are aware of the malady. The designers left the popular Call of Duty franchise to create a title that has the intensity of a FPS, yet without the archetypal exchange of ballistics.
Real Heroes: Firefighter places you in the boots of a probationary rookie stationed at a Southern California firehouse. An elongated tutorial familiarizes the player with a majority of the tools that will be used in the title, from the obstruction-clearing axe to the door-prying halligan bar. Sensibly, the game allows players to choose between waggle-executed control or automatic implementation. Each piece of equipment controls agreeably with the exception of the rotary saw, whose large appearance obstructs where the player should cut. The most commonly used tools are the water hose and extinguisher, which allow the player to snuff out blazes from a first-person perspective. Eradicating fires is both satisfying and engaging; leaving even a small amount of flickering combustion can retrigger an inferno.
The game skillfully straddles the line between realistic simulation and more arcade-oriented mechanics. Most of the fire-fighting procedure is accurately portrayed, with the rescue of victims and fellow firefighters prioritized. Instead of incorporating irritating time limitations upon saving people, the game uses a scripted delivery method, which wisely limits the areas of on-screen combustion. Occasionally, problems can arise, such as when the title’s mission objectives is imprecise. Real Heroes once directed me to save a man from a burning theatre; although the venue was free of civilians. Danger from heat is indicated by a glowing screen border, which intensifies as the player moves closer to exhaustion. Once the player is free from hazard, the game regenerates the rookie’s health. These embellishments do little to detract from the game’s sense of intensity and urgency, instead keeping the title from becoming frustrating. The game’s three difficulty levels allow younger games a chance at the heroics, while not alienating veterans.
Real Heroes’ graphical delivery fluctuates from flames that emerge and blossom realistically, to humans that are rendered and animate somewhat coarsely. As expected, the title’s flames show a skillful range; from molten ceiling blazes to roaring infernos that have engulfed an entire wall. Occasionally, burning environments are fantastically intimidating; typically when a when an entire passageway in engulfed in flames. Even during the most intense conflagrations, the game’s framerate stays remarkably fluid. Sonically, the game’s voice acting is generally solid, with a cast that includes James Marsters, Jaime Kennedy and Jenette Goldstein recalling her role as Pvt. Vasquez from Aliens. Another aural highlight is the title’s spectacular use of the Wiimote speaker to convey communication from your captain and fellow firefighters. Being accustomed to short sound bites from the controller, it was surprising to hear extended dialogue delivered with a convincingly squelchy output.
The Wii is home to a multitude of vocational simulations, which recreate the day-to-day responsibilities of everything from veterinarians to lumberjacks. Not surprisingly, nearly all of these occupational games are woefully lackluster, with clunky controls and substandard visuals. Real Heroes: Firefighter is the first game to seriously buck this trend; the title has the intensity of a first-person shooter, yet feels delightfully unique in its execution. With a reduced MSRP of thirty dollars (with a portion of the sales going to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network charity), Wii owners of all ages should consider picking up the title; it’s a wonderful dose of medicine for those distressed by the uniformity and brutality of shooters.