This is one war we should have stayed out of...
Posted 1 year ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
One of our biggest complaints around the GameFocus halls has always been overpriced games. No, I’m not talking about the jump to $60 that this console cycle ushered in. I’m talking about games that may have been looked at more favorably had they been released with a price tag that is more in-line with the quality they carry. My go-to example is always Iron Man 2 (sorry SEGA). Not a terrible game, although it is not a good one either. And ultimately it was an extremely bitter pill to swallow when we realized that we were shelling out $60 for it. Now, had it come with a $20 price tag, I think it would have been much easier to accept it’s flaws. Which leads me to the latest in the Heavy Fire seres: Afghanistan...
Heavy Fire: Afghanistan is not unlike its WiiWare predecessors in that it’s a modern military-based on-rails shooter Although for this outing, it is getting the retail treatment for the Wii, PC and PS3, with a Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 version still on its way. As the name implies, this one is set in Afghanistan. You are apart of a special forces team who’s digging deep behind enemy lines to rescue a group of hostages. While not entirely original, it is relevant material, so my interest maintained...until I actually began the campaign. Both the narrative and the various sets of dialog and voicework is delivered like a cliched 80’s action film. And a bad one at that. There was not a single moment when I didn’t feel like the scriptwork was derived straight from Hollywood, flush with the overcooked ‘YeeHaw’ as the soldiers are being deployed in the middle of a hot zone and the good old Mid-Western boy who has wanted to be a military grunt all his life. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the game was trying to mock the stereotypes. Unfortunately, it wants to be a serious military shooter, which turns the whole thing into a jab at the player’s intelligence.
The production values don’t help things none. HF: Afghanistan isn’t quite ugly; your eyes won’t bleed from their sockets. They are far from pretty though, with repetitive set pieces and (again) stereotypical Middle Eastern soldiers, complete with full-faced ski masks. Fortunately there wasn’t any texture issues or artifacting, but the general look was B-grade from beginning to end, which again, wouldn’t be so bad had this game arrived with its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek.
"Your enjoyment of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan will be directly proportional to your expectations."
On-rails or not, as this is a military shooter, a supply of weaponry is a must. Unfortunately, there is not much here. As players clear out each level, they are awarded points, primarily from things like headshots and multi-kills (by way of quick succession or blowing up explosives like barrels and grenades). These points contribute to the player’s level, and as a new rank is gained, a new perk can be unlocked, such as a bigger clip, more health, or a more powerful gun. There’s only a handful though, and there wasn’t a tremendous difference between them beyond the clip size and some minor damage changes. However, there are segments where you’ll control a vehicle-mounted .50 cal or even the turret on a tank. These do break up the action a little, yet not enough to save it from wash-rinse-repeat syndrome. Even worse is the sound design, as each pop and bang sounds the same as the last, and none of it has any real oomph to it. There was no effort put in at all to try and convey the sense of using a real gun.
The AI furthers the malcontent as well. There is a cover system available, which is expected for an on-rails shooter. The only time you’ll need it though, is when the red exclamation points pop up over your foes’ noggins. That’s right, the game tells you when you are being targeted. As long as there is no ‘!’ on the screen, you are safe to just stand there and shoot away. Which will be a hit-or-miss affair (pun intended) as the targeting accuracy is all over the place. Sometimes, the reticule just needs to be in the right vicinity to nail the target, and other times it needs to be spot on to record a successful hit. Naturally, using the Move wand is preferred, but the results are the same regardless of if you use that or the SixAxis. There are other instances where the player needs to move the controller or the wand in a certain direction, implying that the solder is moving out of the way of danger, such as an oncoming vehicle or the need to hop over a crate on the ground. Another attempt to vary the gameplay a little, but the final result had little impact on the overall experience. There is also an up to 4-player cooperative mode, so you can subjugate your buddies to this mess, you know, cause misery loves company, right?
So let’s take a role call here. A weird AI system? Check. Wonky targeting? Check. Poor visuals, thin and weakly executed weaponry options, and a nauseatingly stereotyped narrative/voicework? Check, check, and check. So why is it I’m hesitant to tear this game apart? Simply put, the price is right. Even though Heavy Fire does indeed try to be a serious military shooter, the retail cost reflects the low budget. It’s tough to penalize a game for not living up to its potential when the development costs were low enough to justify launching at $20. So while Heavy Fire flounders (ok, miserably and painfully drowns) when placed next to high-profile, AAA titles, as a budget release, it can tread water...barely.
Your enjoyment of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan will be directly proportional to your expectations. There is absolutely nothing that is exceptional about it, which, in my opinion, is just fine as the cost mitigates the quality. It functions as it should, and as long as you don’t walk in expecting Call of Duty, your feelings won’t be hurt. Much. At least not like it was when you fired up Iron Man 2.
+ Budget price...
- Stereotyped in every way
- AI & targeting are wonky
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Release Date : 2011/11/15
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Mastiff
Developer : Teyon
Category : Shooter
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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