I really wanted to love this game. Firefighters are pretty much the unsung heroes of our time, and the idea of a first person fire-fighting game for the Wii is a highly appealing concept that could really set the Wii ablaze (sorry, bad pun) if pulled off effectively. But alas, Real Heroes: Firefighter is anything but heroic, as many flaws make it just your average Wii game with a few shining moments here or there but not enough to burn a hole in the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere (No more fire puns, I promise).
Let’s start off with the graphics, as they’re sure to be a sore point for this game. I’ve never been a graphics whore in the past and if the graphics on a great game are subpar, then I’ll usually turn a blind eye to them and note the game’s other stellar qualities instead. But this game seriously looks like a Nintendo 64 game. More specifically, this game looks like Goldeneye 64, which wouldn’t be so bad if so much of the gameplay didn’t rely on scoping out the background for what you have to do next. There were instances where I seriously had no idea what I was doing because the graphics are so last (last) gen. Many objects blend into the background and I had a hard time spotting my objectives. I was often tempted to just put the game down and let the building burn to a crisp.
The arrow that shows you where to go, while helpful, only achieves so much. One example of arrow malfunction is when I was supposed to clear a doorway so my partner could get into the room, but no matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. A dresser was blocking the doorway, but I couldn’t push, break, or shoot it with my water, so I had no idea how I was to go about moving it, even though the arrow kept pointing towards the dresser the entire time. In fact, I STILL don’t know how to open that door. My poor partner is still standing outside the building somewhere while I’m writing this article, stranded because of poor communication with the player.
The clunky controls - you use a Wiimote and nunchuck combo - added to my overall dissatisfaction as well. If I didn’t point the Wiimote directly at the sensor, my character would be shooting water aimlessly all over the place instead of where I intended to shoot. Often I'd spray everywhere except the flames. You have no idea how many times I was burned to bits just because I wasn’t hitting what I really wanted to hit. It’s aggravating because I was really trying, and the more I seemed to try, the less I seem to hit. Arg!
But that’s not to say that everything about this game bothers me, as it does have some plusses that truly save the day. The objectives, for one (besides the ones you get stuck at), are pretty fun, as you’ll be tasked with doing everything from rescuing workers from a flaming building, to breaking down doors with an ax, to getting on an actual fire truck and shooting out flames from the top of it. This game doesn't lack variety, which is surprising when you consider that there's only one villain (fire).
Fire is actually a pretty formidable foe in this game, too. It’s really quite scary when it starts exploding out of control all over the rooms, hitting the ceiling, walls and floor in an instant just when you think you’ve got everything under control. If this is what real firefighting is like, then hats off to the boys and girls in yellow and black for not soiling their suits every time they go on a mission, as even in a game with poor visuals like this one, the fire is pretty intimidating as it snakes around the halls and floors.
Last but not least, the voice work in Firefighter is commendable. James Marsters (Better known as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Futurama’s John Di Maggio, and comedian, Jaime Kennedy, add nice little perks to the game if you can actually pick out their voices.
All in all, though, with bland graphics, sloppy controls, and confusing objectives, Real Heroes: Firefighting doesn’t reach the spiraling heights that you’re hoping it will. However, it’s a promising introduction from upstart company and the price is certainly right at only thirty dollars. I’d like to see what they could do with a bigger budget and a few more folks on their team. A sequel with more money backing it could be worth a look.
ESRB:E for Everyone