Against the Fire! not your typical flaming shooter

Posted: September 20, 2009 in Shooter

Meridian is a developer that may not have much name recognition, but we know many of their games such as Alive 4-ever, Ace Commando, and my personal favorite, Abigale: Revenge of the Princess. So I had no idea that these were the same group behind Against the Fire!, a new firefighter adventure shooter. The game has the trademark high-quality polish and top-notch art you’d expect, and that may be enough to get you to check it out.

The story in Against the Fire involves fire monsters who are setting fires throughout the city of Waterfront. One day while the crew is out battling fires, Andrew the trainee is left behind to watch the firehouse. As fate would have it, the hotel next door goes up in flames, and Andrew is the only one who can rescue guests trapped in the high rise.

Against the Fire has 50 levels with 3 levels of difficulty: easy, normal and hard. While the objective sounds simple enough, a big part of this game relies on your ability to backtrack once you’ve rescued the victim since you’ll need to bring them back to the safe zone before your oxygen runs out. Of course, you’ll also need to fight off the fire monsters who will come from all corners of the building.

The game also has a medal system that awards you a gold, silver or bronze medal based on how quickly you complete a rescue on each floor. Minimum time requirements are provided and at a minimum, you’ll need to successfully complete a level to unlock the next. But once unlocked, you can go back to re-play previous levels. What the game could use is a broader achievement system such as number of rescues, quickest to complete a rescue, and complete a rescue with least amount of oxygen remaining among others.

Presented in a top-down view, the various rooms vary in size and layouts which only serve hinder your ability to move quickly. The graphics look better than I would’ve expected for a game of this type with vibrant colors, a good level of detail when it comes items and objects found in a hotel room, and smooth animation on my iPod Touch 2g 3.0. The soundtrack is rather perky and in some ways sound like something you would hear in a corporate video.

As in Alive 4-ever, the responsive controls consist of dual pads with the left pad controlling movement and the right one for aiming and shooting with your fire hose. These controls actually feel tighter and more accurate than those in Alive 4-ever. As you progress, the number of victims per level increases and usually separated from each other. One of the issues is that victims tend to be slow moving so keeping them alive until they reach the safe zone can be challenging. An added difficulty is that you can easily become disoriented because higher floors consist of several rooms. Finding the victims is relatively easy…it’s finding your way back that make or break you.

Along the way, various items can be found to give Andrew’s fire fighting efforts a boost: 3-way water stream and Power up water stream. Also, a speed boost to enable faster movement, and the relative health and oxygen power ups.

I found the gameplay pretty well-balanced in terms of difficulty but it can become repetitive. While the floor layouts and the associated complexity make each a different challenge, there isn’t much variety with the fire monsters. In the earlier levels, arbitrarily firing your hose in all directions is rather effective, but this tactic becomes less effective later as fire monsters become more resistant and aggressive. The levels also become less forgiving once your victims is surrounded and engulfed in flames. If you happen to lose a victim to fire, you’ll need to rescue a new victim randomly placed elsewhere on that floor.

Overall, Against the Fire is another well-made game by Meridian ideal for casual gamers looking for a good time waster or a more engaging challenge. With a good amount of levels and a great art style, Against the Fire is worth checking out.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (entertaining yet repetitive gameplay with tight controls should satisfy; different theme will appeal to those not looking for the typical blood-and-gore shooter)

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