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Reign of Fire Review

Developer: BAM! Publisher: Kuju Entertainment
Release Date: November 22, 2002 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Everybody goes through a time in their lives when they’re willing to fudge their preferences somewhat in an effort to be popular. I go to a college where ninety percent of the gamers are Halo fanboys, but not all of them have their own Xbox, so over the summer and at the beginning of this school year, I decided to buy a couple FPS’s and try to both become decent at the genre and give myself another outlet to bond with my fellow students. I picked up Reign of Fire the same time I picked up Medal of Honor: Frontline, primarily because it was very inexpensive and looked decent. And, for those who are fans of the genre, the game turns out to be fairly well worth a look, although a couple flaws show through rather quickly.

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Let’s start with the graphics. They are basically typical GameCube fare, meaning they are not overly stellar but they are not pure and utter crap that looks like it could be done on a N64. The graphics do not detract from the game, but they don’t add much. They just get the job done.

So far as the story goes, from what I understand the plot is stolen from a movie of the same name, although I can’t know for sure as I have never seen the movie. Basically, dragons are taking over the earth and the few remaining humans are trying to defend themselves and ultimately drive the dragons out. Although not very far removed from the plot of the typical action games, the reused plot can’t be criticized too much since it was more “borrowed” from the movie than “rehashed” from other games in the genre.

The sound effects are typical GameCube action game fare also. The guy who talks to you and tells you what to do can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but unfortunately, you have to listen to him to know what you’re doing. Basically, it gets the job done, and the voice actor really does sound like a military person, both in what he says and how he says it. The lack of music isn’t a major detraction from the game, either, as it makes the sounds of approaching enemies easier to hear.

The gameplay is where the flaws I mentioned come into play, but before I start railing on the game, let me be sure to mention that this game is very good in many areas. The first thing one would notice when playing this game is that it isn’t even a FPS. It would be more aptly classified a vehicle-based third-person shooter. For the most part, picture a Warthog from Halo and you’ll be fairly close to the vehicle used in the majority of the levels in this game. There are some levels where you’ll be manning a tank, and some levels where you’ll be manning a fire truck. The weapon set and speed of the three vehicles vary. You also can unlock the option eventually to play some levels as the Dragons and kill the humans.

The gameplay executes very well. You have various methods of attack depending on what vehicle you have, but aiming, as well as the other controls are simple to pick up on, particularly since the game starts with a training level. That you have the ability to move only in the direction you are aiming may be annoying, but it is fairly easy to get used to. Actually, my main problem with the actual gameplay in this game was that I couldn’t understand the radar too well, and most people who are better at FPS’s than I am would likely have no problem there. The gameplay is actually quite good even though this is a movie license game.

The replay value is where the primary suffering of this game’s quality comes. There are two things that literally kill this game’s replay value. First, there is no multiplayer, none whatsoever. I missed that when I became awed at the low price tag. I guess I hadn’t even considered the possibility of a one player-only shooter until I saw this game. That would be forgivable if the game gave you reason to play again, such as multiple skill levels (also present in most shooters that I have seen), but this game doesn’t provide that either. So you have a one-player game with one skill level. Basically you beat it and you’re done with it.

Overall, if you don’t like FPS’s, you probably won’t like this game much either, as the third person elements don’t change the game much from a FPS feel. I have, however, seen this game as low as $10 some places, so if you do like FPS’s, this game might be one to consider at that low a price for a few hours of fun. Just don’t expect it to rival Halo in terms of quality.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 6
Written by Martin Review Guide