Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Heavy Fire Afghanistan: PS Move Saves A Mediocre Shooter From Total Damnation

Cross-posted on and commissioned by Gaming Blend

With motion technology becoming more and more a part of at home gaming, we are beginning to see an influx of more arcade style titles. The latest is the railed shooter Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, which essentially exists just to try and capitalize on the success of the Call of Duty franchise. Unfortunately, this isn't Call of Duty: Motion Sensor, it's Call of Duty Knockoff: Motion Sensor, so it leaves a lot to be desired.

First off, the game opens with a painfully disconnected voiceover paired with a painfully pedestrian backstory. Yikes. Not a good sign. Both a Bukowski quote and the line "My name is Will and this is my story" make an appearance. The graphics are a little 2008, but they get slightly better in the gameplay, once you're past the insufferable cut scenes. All of the humans look more or less like cardboard, but this game isn't about humans it's about inconsequential gunfire!

There are 24 missions in total, 12 in Rookie and 12 in Veteran. This will run you under five hours to play the whole game. Though it is designed for repeatability, giving you the stat screen after every mission with your rank, your accuracy percentage, time played, rounds fired, headshots, etc, I can't imagine anyone caring enough to actually go back and attempt to beat a score.

I get the intention, I get the conceit, and for that arcade rush, Heavy Fire is certainly a fine enough time. The controls are very instinctual, I figured out how to shoot, reload, take cover and throw a grenade without ever consulting a guide of any kind, but the gameplay gets a bit bizarre when using the PS Move for anything other than combat enters the equation. A water tower is about to fall on you, move your controller to the right to not die! Move up to jump! Repeatedly move the controller vertically in an upwards motion to climb the ladder! And so on. Sure, they created a game based around a new technology, so they wanted to use it as much as possible, but honestly, these bits here and there did absolutely nothing to make the game more fun, if anything, the added movement hindered the experience, confusing me every time an icon said to move the controller in a random direction. And when I didn't do it, were there even consequences? At least thanks to the PS Move having lots of awesome potential with its accuracy, the gun movement is exceptionally fluid and stands out as easily the best aspect of the game.

Every two missions you beat, you get an armory point, which allows upgrades like holding more grenades and clips, faster reload, extra health, so on and so forth, for you to choose from. So once you're past the basic beginning levels, things get a little more exciting, as you actually have some options. The game starts to engage you a little bit more by, for example, having an enemy with a machine gun be killable by blowing up the car beneath him. This shooter, while mostly blah, does allow some room for strategy in terms of where you throw a grenade or how quickly you can take out the guys before they take cover or what parts of the environment you can destroy to make taking the enemies out happen a bit more efficiently. Little things that move it beyond being god-awful.

But being happy that a game has a sliver of strategy, strategy that doesn't even enter the gameplay until halfway through, isn't saying much. Aside from the accurate gun controls, the game is pretty worthless. As if the laughable voiceover and "storyline" weren't bad enough, there's never a sense of danger. The enemies just look like they are holding sticks that light up, and if their guns are making any sounds of any kind, it's news to me. I never thought the enemies had the potential to kill or even damage me until the last level. But after being so used to flying through the entire game, the sudden repeat deaths of the final level made me lose all interest entirely. Consistency, people. At least put health out when we need it instead of arbitrarily or try BUILDING in difficulty to adapt the player to what is to come.

Would I recommend buying this? No. Would I recommend renting it? If no other PS Move shooter is available and you're dying to try out the controls, well, sure. The shooting is great fun and that's no easy feat. I've played my fair share of frustratingly impossible-to-handle motion based games this year, so props to Teyon for their work in that department at least. Ultimately though, as much as it pains me to give a hard time to a small company, Heavy Fire: Afghanistan is a completely run of the mill knockoff filled with a little too much Marine propaganda for my taste. Your time can definitely be better spent elsewhere.

Players: 1-4

Platform(s): Playstation 3

Developer: Teyon

Publisher: Mastiff

ESRB: Teen

Rating: 4/10