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Fireburst Review


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On 07/14/2013 at 03:30 PM by Chris Iozzi

Burned out on Burnout? Tired of Twisted Metal? Maybe this budget combat racer will re-ignite your flame.
RECOMMENDATION:

Veterans of vehicular combat might appreciate the original take on the combat mechanics, newbies to the genre have a slew of other titles to try first.

When I was a kid I had a collection of toy cars like most other young boys. The more common cars would populate the cities and towns that I would dig out of the dirt. The fancier cars I’d use for a more exciting fate, launching them off cardboard ramps and watching them sail as far and high as they could go. One thing would have made this activity more awesome; setting them on fire.  Letting me live out this childhood dream is what Fireburst—developed by indiePub and exDream for BigBen Interactive—sets out to accomplish. It’s an offroad combat racing game where fire fuels your speed and is the basis of the combat system. 

Fireburst gives you the freedom to use any driver with any car that you like. For example, the busty goth girl and the shirtless Iggy Pop clone can use any of the off-road staples such as jeeps, pick-up trucks, and buggies. Each vehicle has a different skin depending on the selected driver and uses one of the four types of fire attacks.

 A few seconds into each race a speed boost is enabled. When the boost is in use it fills a meter that, once full, will set your car ablaze and enable your fiery attacks. Build the meter up too far and you ‘Splode. There are water sources scattered about each track like blue water barrels, puddles, and fountains that lower your fire meter so you can boost and attack longer (Red barrels are bad, mm ‘kay?). Managing the delicate balance between fire power and destruction is the key to placing in a race.

The fire attacks differ depending on what vehicle you use. One makes flames shoot out the sides of your car, one turns your car into a flaming battering ram, and another leaves fiery tire streaks behind you a-la Back to the Future. You have to keep a close eye on the boost. It can be frustrating to maintain the balance between speed and exploding at first, as there is a really narrow window between where your fire kicks up and you explode. The biggest learning curve in the game is perfecting that balance. Once you do the game becomes easier, but I wouldn’t say it becomes fun. I feel like the fire meter system holds me back a bit from digging into the racing and combat since I’m spending more time babysitting my fire meter.  

The handling is extremely floaty, with inconsistent physics. Skimming a wall might force you into an abrupt stop in mid speed burst, while slamming into a weak obstacle might make you explode into nothing. Colliding with other cars can make you flip flop around in the air only to land safely on your wheels. Sometimes exaggerated physics in a game can produce fun effects but here they just annoyed me.

The track designs range from long distance circuits to tight combat arenas. They range from rocky canyons to developed industrial areas. Each track has strategically placed boosts and pitfalls that can quickly turn the tide in any race. For example they lay out a nice long stretch of water for you to really go full throttle for a few seconds, only to lead you head first into a barely visable barrier. They’ll also sadistically place much needed water barrels in areas that bait you to fly off the course. (Harsh, guys. Harsh). The graphic quality in these tracks vary greatly, with some courses looking like they came out of a PlayStation 2 and some that brush up to current gen standards. It’s easy to rip on the graphics considering what we are spoiled with these days but I’m willing to forgive it, considering this is an 800 point game on XBLA.  

Less forgivable are a good deal of bugs in the game which can impede progress. I respawned on a platform I crashed on that was too small for me to gain enough speed to clear the gap again. No matter which way I went I would fall off the track and explode. I was about to get lapped so I ended up having to restart the race.  One time I actually jumped too high in the open air and “crashed” into an invisible ceiling. So much for living my dream of watching my cars sail as high as they can go.

Despite these setbacks there is some fun to be had. There’s something very satisfying about hitting the fire streak just right to boost you up a big jump and take out a couple racers in mid-air. The frustrating annoyances can be forgiven when enough of these good “holy crap!” moments come around.

 It may not be Burnout. Flatout, or Twisted Metal, but Fireburst combines elements from these games with mixed results.  If you only had 800 MSP to your name and asked me if this is the game you should spend it on, I’d say “no.” However, if you are really into the car combat genre and 800 MSP ain’t no thang then by all means go for it. Just know that you might get more fun out of some Hot Wheels and cardboard ramps.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/14/2013 at 04:00 PM

good review, Chris!  I used to love these types of games.

Chris Iozzi Staff Alumnus

07/15/2013 at 11:56 AM

Thank you, sir! I used to love Vigilante 8 on Dreamcast.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

07/16/2013 at 07:11 AM

This sounds like a fun game I could get into! One of my more favorited games of this gen in terms of vehicular combat is Blood Drive. It's basically a Twisted Metal clone with Zombies roaming around. The zombies are absolutely pointless in terms of effecting the player for the most part, but their presence offers the player new gameplay options such as seeing who can kill the most zombies within an arena, or acting as a time-penatly during a race.

Overall though, this game seems innovative and interesting, and for 800 points, I don't see myself going too wrong with this!

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