Mar 25, 2010

A Warhammer 40k Fire Warrior Review

Now, why would you dear readers care for a review of a spectacularly unremarkable 5 year old game, that was released to public apathy and less than stellar reviews? And why would I bother with a game that dared tempt the PC crowd without a proper save feature, while offering only lackluster multiplayer options? Why should we even care about the existence of another generic FPS instead of, say, the joys of Blue Lacuna? Well, simple really. It's all happening because I’m oddly enjoying playing through Fire Warrior, that’s why. Shockingly for the second time in my life too.

Better start at the beginning then. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is -as you might have already guessed- a pretty standard FPS set in Games Workshop’s dark and gritty sci-fi/gothic world of Warhammer 40,000, where -as is customary with these things- there is only war and apparently many interesting stories to be told. You, the player, assume the role of a young warrior of the Tau Empire and set out to fight for the greater good in general and, in a more specific way, against the rather fascist Empire of Man. Actually, you get to live through the frenetic first 24 hours of your service while battling through 21 hour-long levels, essentially making this a properly real-time FPS in the strictest of senses. Interesting innit? Regardless. It still is longer than the average shooter and that sort of makes up for the fact that the game is definitely showing its age. It was after all a 2003 release.

Warhammer 40k Fire WarriorFire Warrior also was the first pure action game set in the Warhammer 40k universe and, frankly, this must have been why I actually decided to give it a chance in the first place. Let me explain my train of thought like this: Shooting Space Marines? Yes, please. Walking through Tau spaceships in glorious 3D? Definitely. Being a nameless grunt in a war-torn universe? Sure. Playing a lazy PS2 port on the PC? Well, uhm, not that I’m thrilled with the prospect, but guess I could put up with it.

The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multiplayer side. Then, it doesn’t even try to add anything new to the genre and its sole innovation is a rather failed copy of HALO’s shield system. And don’t get me started on the extreme linearity of the thing or the truly archaic need to collect colour-coded keys…

Warhammer 40,000 Fire WarriorOn the plus side -and besides the setting- Fire Warrior does manage to do some things rather well. Or at least, well enough to help you relax, turn your brain off and enjoy many hours of frenetic shooting a la Serious Sam. You get 15 different weapons to experiment with, an impressively balanced difficulty curve, a great (or at least engrossing for FPS standards) plot, a variety of well-presented locations, bits of horror, a couple of smart set-pieces, boss battles and tons of enemies. What’s more, there are more than a few fantastic cinematic sequences and I bloody love fantastic cinematic sequences. I am quite fond of them unlockable WH40K artwork goodies too.

So, and in order to reach some sort of a verdict, should you grab a copy? Well, if you don’t mind Fire Warrior’s flaws and lack of originality, care for a simple though highly atmospheric and extremely addictive FPS to last you for a week or so, then, by all means, I think you should. After all, Warhammer 40,000 Fire Warrior is indeed dead cheap. Oh, and Warhammer 40k maniacs that can forget their miniatures for a while will definitely appreciate it too. Mind you, Amazon has quite a few well priced copies lying around last time I checked.

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  1. Have had this game on my wishlist for a while as I also was curious. I'll have to give it a try. Though, as a Dark Angels player, it'll be rough - used to killing Tau.

  2. I'm always in the mood for obscure games, especially FPS' and RPGs. I'll have to check it out. It's surprising to see a Warhammer 40k FPS, all the others I know of are strategy games...

  3. Oh, come on Austin, you know that deep inside you need to fight for the greater good...

    Same thing here Ithmeer, though I must admit I remember enjoying White Dwarf's coverage of the game. It did look the part. Still, Final Liberation remains the best GW translation yet.

  4. Gnome! You're back! I had no idea! Excellent news. Also, I've played Fire Warrior and thought it was pretty good. I only paid about £3 for it and wasn't really expecting anything amazing...but it was suprisingly entertaining, and it got me interested in the whole Warhammer universe too. A fine review, squire.

  5. Ah, my dear Tomleece, yes, I'm quite back! And always keeping an eye out for new posts at your Junkyard... Glad you liked the review my friend!

  6. I was tempted when it was first released but it seems to have passed me by. I've always had an interest in the 40K universe, but I can't say i've ever plucked up the courage to head down to GW for a play session. I've played it once or twice at a friend's though, and I loved Dawn of War.

    "Now, why would you dear readers care for a review of a spectacularly unremarkable 5 year old game?...It's all happening because I’m oddly enjoying playing through Fire Warrior, that’s why."

    I can think of no better reason! I don't think reviews should be restricted to only the latest releases, after all, it's impossible to keep up with everything, and there's countless joy to be found trying out something new (even if it is old).

    Nice review, i'll pick up a copy next week and have a look.

  7. Ah, I but I'm a huge fan of the first Dawn of War myself, though apparently not as skilled a player as I'd like. Oh, and thanks for the kind words. By the way, isn't it great finding people you tend to agree with? Cheers!

  8. This game works far better on the PS2 than the PC. Unusual, it is normally the other way round.