Pros: Innovative concept
Cons: Graphical mess, focuses too much on memorizing levels, cheap
Many games focus on fighting aliens, monsters and even humans. So
when Konami presented the idea of Firefighter F.D. 18 it was something
fresh. Instead of fighting against a foe, your enemy was nature. Instead
of finding gold coins, you're job is to find stranded survivors. While
this isn't the first firefighting game ever made, but its been awhile
since one was released. We were excited to give this game a playthrough,
but it wasn't what we expected.
Firefighter F.D. 18 places you in the shoes of a firefighter named
Dean. Dean's job is to go into blazing buildings to rescue hapless
citizens. When you're placed into a building you only have a few tools
with you, your hose and your axe. You're going to mainly use your hose
to douse the fire around you. The hose actually has two types of
nozzles, one that is linear and highly concentrated and one that is
spread shot that is not as concentrated. When you have a lot of small
fires around you the spread shot is king, but when you have a giant fire
you're going to use the linear shot. Spraying fires with water will
eventually make them disappear, unless they are a "special" fire. Some
fires act like boss monsters, they have their own life bars and shoot
flames to spread a blaze. These fires need to be hit accurately and
quickly to be taken out. If you get into a bind you can call "backup",
which is essentially a bomb mechanism. Your backup can heavily damage a
boss or clear out a lot of fire. While you are a firefighter you aren't
really concerned with eliminating the red blaze. Instead your job is
really to save the civilians.
There are civilians scattered
throughout the area. While civilians are trapped in fire they lose life.
If you miss saving even one of the people before their life runs out he
mission is over. Saving civilians is the core part of the game and it
quickly becomes a frustrating ordeal. You are given a map on the top
right hand corner of the screen that shows you where civilians are
located. What the map doesn't tell you is that often the fastest route
to saving a civilian is blocked off. You either need to use your trusty
axe to break down a wall or find a key hidden in the level. By the time
you find the actual path to save the civilian they die, which means you
have to start all over again. It's always nice to have a
challenge, but the game tricks you into going to an incorrect location.
The whole ordeal ends up becoming frustrating.
Besides having to
restart missions due to the poor level design, you'll be dying quite a
bit from the surrounding fire. When Dean is standing in fire he loses
life rapidly. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if flames didn't
spread around you. For instance you could douse a fire, just to have it
later respawn underneath your feet. You could be focusing on taming a
large "boss" fire and not even know you're losing life until its too
late. The game also has a number of traps that take off huge amounts of
your life. For instance there are "explosions" that happen without any
prior warning. If you don't know they're there you'll incur heavy and
sometimes fatal damage. Once again forcing you to restart the level, yet
again. Instead of making this a challenge to spot traps or even dodge
them the traps are more like memory exercises. There are items that you
can find to recover life, such as vitamins and first aid kits. If you
use one of these items your health immediately recovers, but finding
these items are quite rare. Especially in later levels where you're
forced to lose life by running through flames something to recover your
health would be nice.
While wandering around the burning buildings the game looks pretty
sparse. The walls are typically gray and there are few graphical touches
in the background. This makes every area seem like the last sans
civilian placement. Konami did do a nice job making the fire, but the
effects of it soon get tiresome. When you first look at the fire, it
glowing orange and red. Soon when you're surrounded by it the screen is
covered with so much bright orange you're eyes hurt. So you douse the
fire and of course steam comes out, but steam doesn't just come out it
surrounds the screen. So for most of the game you're going to be seeing
a mix of orange and gray, not exactly the best looking game out there.
When the effects in the game spend more time clouding vision than being
eye candy there is no point in having them. There are some less dramatic
effects that could have been done, even making the fog less dense.
Firefighter F.D. does have some nicely laid out and animated story
scenes that you see after completing a level. While the character models
aren't revolutionary they still look pretty good, on par with today's
games. The cut scenes tell the story of conspiracy about who is starting
the fires. You can opt to skip through the story and just play the game
and you won't be missing much. Once you solve the mystery the game is
over. You can come back again to collect more costumes and find
collectible items throughout the levels, but there really isn't anything
to do on a second playthrough.
Voices are in English with Japanese subtitles. Unfortunately the menus
are all in Japanese, but they contain plenty of pictures for you
Firefighter F.D. 18 has a March 9th release date.
Firefighter F.D. 18 attempts to be something new and tries hard to make a genre for itself.
However, it doesn't exactly succeed due to stale gameplay mechanics, cheap puzzles and sloppy graphics.