"One of the better Warhammer franchise video games to come out"
Warhammer 40,000 from Games Workshop is one of the most popular table top war games available on the market today. Over the years many developers have tried to capture games such as Blood Bowl and Warhammer Fantasy in a gaming format but for the most part have failed. Fire Warrior is a completely different take to what the others have tried and succeeds in recreating the Warhammer universe, but is it a great game?
In Fire Warrior you play as a young soldier named Kais. The introduction sequence explains that your homeland has been invaded with all but the leader killed. The leader has been kidnapped and it is up to you, and the other surviving Fire Warriors to get him back. It is your first mission, so it will be a tough one.
Fire Warrior is a first person shooter that follows a lot of safe conventions with that genre. There is nothing ground breaking or innovative about the game, but for Warhammer fans you should be pleased that there finally is a game that does the board game justice. For the most part missions will include getting from A to B safely, finding a switch to open a door or killing an enemy to retrieve a key, very cliche stuff. But the thing that differs Fire Warrior from most first person shooters is the universe it is set in. Using the WH40K universe has allowed Kuju to create an authentic storyline and players of the table top war game will instantly recognise many of the units.
One area where Fire Warrior excels is definitely its atmosphere, you truly do feel like your in the middle of a great war. The focus isn't entirely on you and at times you will be either in a squad based team fighting with other AI Fire Warriors or having to protect another unit because he can destroy a wall to progress further into the mission. Tanks roll around, enemies yell at each other and sometimes co-ordinate together, although the AI is probably one of the down sides to the game. Instead of trying to find cover when you and your team mates come charging in, they will usually charge towards you or remain motionless and look as if their feet are glued to the ground.
However it's not all fun and games with the AI in Fire Warrior and there is a challenge to be had in the game. Even on the easiest difficulty level, it is unlikely you will be able to complete a mission first time through and there are boss fights present in the game as well as tougher units such as the enemy commanders who carry chainsaws which can cut up Kais in a very quick fashion. The same applies unfortunately to your own team members as well. Sometimes its just impossible to save a team member because its a scripted part of the story and atmosphere but when you do catch up with some friendly units most of the time they will hang back and expect you to do all the dirty work before going about their business. Sometimes you do rely on these units to progress further, but again this is scripted as part of the storyline in missions.
Throughout the storyline missions you will be able to pick up various new weapons. Kais default weapon is a plasma-like gun, featuring logos and insignias associated with the Warhammer 40,000 universe but as you progress you will come into contact with more such as a laser rifle, commanders pistol and others. Kais also has a sword by default to help in melee situations. The enemy units and friendly units look incredibly accurate in comparison to the units featured in the table top war game. It is simple to pick out enemies from distance by type due to this high level of detail. The vehicles and other craft present throughout the game also look exactly like the table top units. Kuju really put some effort into this area of the game.
One down side to Fire Warrior is the lack of environments that battles take place in. There is seamless integration between indoor and outdoor environments which does help, but the fact that when you're back outside you will be running in a barren-like desert area again can become monotonous after a while. The environments are heavily detailed with Warhammer insignias such as on the sides of buildings, and destroyed tanks laying motionless in the dirt. The atmosphere created by the battles however don't leave much time to check out the imperfections of the levels the game is played in, which helps eliminate this problem significantly.
Visually Fire Warrior is a little bit of a disappointment. The frame rate for the most part is rock solid however and there are some cool moments such as charging out the back of a cruiser into battle. In terms of the power of the PS2 however, Kuju hasn't really pushed it to the limit and the graphics are average and can seem boring. The one saving factor is the character and enemy models which look superb. Sound effects are fairly standard with typical sounds for weapons such as plasma guns and laser guns.
Multiplayer in Fire Warrior is offered both online and offline. Offline is restricted to split screen deathmatch with a variety of modes. Unfortunately the single player campaign can not be tackled co-operatively which is a shame. You only need to look at Halo to see why this was a huge mistake for Kuju. The environments you can play in feature two different levels, weapons pick ups etc. Pretty much the standard for first person shooter deathmatch these days.
Whilst Fire Warrior is definitely the best game to come out of the Warhammer 40,000 universe so far, it does have some aspects which let it down. The drab visuals may turn people off the game but the intense atmosphere more then makes up for this. If you like Warhammer 40,000 you will probably enjoy the game for its authenticity and storyline. Those after a first person shooter on the PS2 may enjoy it, but a rental is the best choice at first before making a decision.