It can be a lot of fun to set your enemies on fire in videogames. Zombies burn nicely, as do vampires and some aliens. In most of the games we’ve played, fire is a weapon, not an opponent.
Against the Fire, the latest dual-stick shooter from Meridian Digital Entertainment, changes that. The company that brought us the new classic Alive 4 Ever has us fighting fire in this game.
You play as a firefighter charged with saving what appear to be cloned waiters in a highrise, who are scared out of their minds. As you roam each floor looking for people, three different kinds of fireballs follow you around and attack immediately. You must use your hose to extinguish these almost adorable fiends.
Each maze-like level has one, two, or three identical individuals (who bear a striking resemblance to fancy French restaurant waiters) scattered about, waiting for you to save them. The goal is to find each person and lead them to a green safe zone, protecting them from fire spirits along the way.
We didn’t start the fire.
Temporary upgrades are sprinkled throughout each level that will give you more oxygen, better firepower or even a burst of speed. It would be nice if the powerups were persistent, making the character a better firefighter as the game progresses. As it stands, the powerups are fleeting.
The game has a backstory, which is only available on the App Store page. It explains that you are a trainee fire fighter who must save guests at a 50-story hotel, while your colleagues fight the invading fire spirits elsewhere. We would have liked this story to be included in the actual game somehow, perhaps as a cutscene or animated introduction. Even without the storyline, the game is easy to figure out and has very good instructions.
The challenge here lies in quickly completing each of the 50 maze-like levels, rather than figuring out what you’re doing and why. If it becomes too challenging, Against the Fire has three difficulty settings, which control how many enemies will chase you around. These can be changed as you progress, making the game easier or more difficult. We liked the fact that changing the difficulty level didn’t require starting a whole new game.
No, rookie, spray behind you!
Against the Fire is a lot of fun to play, but you must do so alone. There is no two-player mode whatsoever, and no online scoring features. The in-game high score feature only records your final score, so you would have to play all 50 levels over again to get in more than once. Despite the fact that it is a fun game, we don’t see people playing it through all the way over and over again to do this.
The graphics are a bit cartoony, and it can sometimes be hard to tell which objects you can walk across and which you must go around. The music has a good action-adventure feel though, and manages to loop endlessly without getting annoying.
Against the Fire is a fresh take on what can often be a tired genre. The often complex mazes provide quite a challenge, and the cute baddies keep things interesting. At $0.99, this game is worth checking out.