Real Heroes Firefighter 3D: review

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Here we have that rarest of things; a videogame where the objective is to save people rather than turn them inside out to decorate your surroundings. The ambitious goal of this game is to provide a holistic firefighter experience as you’ll not only fight back flames, but also usher civilians to safety and use the tools of the trade to create an entrance where there is none. The all-important question is, does this result in a good game? The answer is – er, it’s not quite that simple.

First impressions are far from great. The title screen carries some lovely high-resolution 3D flames, but get into the game proper and you’ll immediately find that it has been beaten to within an inch of its life with the ugly stick. The enticing prospect of a first-person action game on the 3DS is quickly forgotten once you have graphics that would not look at all out of place in an N64 title thrust into your face. Speaking of faces, those of the NPCs are so lacking in detail that they allow all the personality of the average T4 presenter. To add insult to late nineties injury, there are even now and again problems with the frame rate.

Hey if you can’t take the heat, get out of the, um, burning building.

Clearly a game that was developed on a tight budget then, which makes the fact that all in-game dialogue (of which there is a fair amount) is all fully voiced quite surprising. Well, excepting the distinct impression that everything was recorded in one take. And that it’s painfully obvious elderly NPCs and very young NPCs are played by actors and actresses of entirely the wrong ages.

Mind you, we said judging this game isn’t simple, and it’s not. Things look a lot brighter once you start getting stuck into actually playing the game, for one thing. Unsurprisingly for a game which casts you as a firefighter, you fight a lot of fires. It’s not as simple as spraying water all over the place till you reach the exit though. You need to concentrate the stream from your hose (if you’ve found one mounted on a wall nearby) or extinguisher on the fire until it’s completely gone – and, crucially, fire spreads here. The higher your chosen difficulty, the faster and more aggressively flames will take over your surroundings.

This necessitates tactical thinking. Do you merely carve yourself a path so that you can progress, or take care to completely extinguish all fire in your area – usually a slow, lengthy process? If you need to backtrack (and it’s not always obvious when you’ll have to do so) and you only cleared enough floor space to move forward, you may turn back to find that your only route to safety has become a raging inferno. Escape will then be possible, but time consuming – especially so if you’re accompanied by an NPC powered by consistently moronic AI.

The touchscreen acts as a second stick; but thanks to the standard 3DS’ design, long play sessions prove uncomfortable.

NPCs you need to shuttle to safety will only follow strictly predetermined routes to the exit. This results in people too terrified to move forward because, although you’ve cleared them a path eight feet wide, there’s five square inches of fire to their immediate left. This is true of both civilians and your fully-trained colleagues. It’s amusing the first few times but as the game becomes more demanding, it just becomes frustrating. Especially if you have to babysit one NPC while carrying another over your shoulder, meaning you dump them as close to the fire as possible on a regular basis so you can keep the flames at bay.

Still, there are moments that reach out to your inner child. Carving a wall open with the circular saw via the touchscreen can be oddly satisfying, and forcing doors open with the Halligan bar seems unnecessary enough to please. Chopping through fallen wooden beams with the axe is good ol’ fashioned violence, and you know those huge fire-engine mounted hoses? You get to have a go on one of those!

Ultimately however, how much you’ll like (or dislike) this game comes down to whether you can laugh at it or with it. Though the script has a few genuinely funny moments, most of the humour is – probably – unintentional. For example, nobody bats a blocky eyelid should you choose to blast water in their face from a high-pressure hose at point-blank range. Nor do they notice if you try to hack their arms off with your axe. One mission requires you to get past two small dogs in order to rescue a small child. Invincible as their human masters, these dogs will only move if you fight your way back through some flames, grab a completely unharmed box of dog treats, and feed them. Come on – you already know if you want this game or not.

The basic and regular task of extinguishing fires is slow, yet enjoyable in a calm and methodical way. Everything else is cheesy B-movie decoration. A polished product this is not, all the more disappointing as it’s a port of a three year old Wii game. However if you’re aching for something different on your 3DS, and you’re prepared to bring a large dollop of forgiveness and humour to the table, you may well find this goes down a treat.

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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