I haven't played a great racing game in some time. I know they're out there, but I just haven't been exposed to them lately. So you can probably imagine how much I was looking forward to checking out Fireburst. The game looked pretty impressive, and I was really hoping the gameplay would be as awesome as the graphics. Sadly, that wasn't the case, and what I was left with was a racer that's functional but incredibly underwhelming.
Fireburst features fast-paced arcade racing gameplay that's actually pretty slick. I never had a problem with the controls, and for what it's worth, the course design is good. Tracks are large and feature multiple paths, giving players a bit of variety as they speed across the different areas. Then there's the boost system, which is pretty awesome and adds a bit of strategy to the game. Basically, you can boost at any time, but you need to watch your overheat meter, because boosting for too long will blow your car up. Releasing the boost button allows your vehicle to cool down, so you need to boost wisely and be mindful of that meter at all times. It's a nice mechanic that ensure you constantly have access to a speed burst, but you can't just spam it like crazy.
It should also be pointed out that Fireburst looks great. Graphically, the game boasts a slick presentation that's rife with color and technically impressive. Motion blur creates a nice sense of speed without compromising the beautiful visuals, and seeing flames slowly wrapping themselves around your vehicle as you hit the boost button is pretty cool.
Unfortunately, that's where the positives end for Fireburst. This is a very bare-bones racer, and it won't take long for players to realize that. First off, for as solid as the controls and tracks may be, the actual racing is just boring. There are no weapons to be found, and it seriously seems as though the inclusion of items would have made this a much more enjoyable racer. This is an arcade racing game after all; some explosive power-ups would have been greatly appreciated.
Fireburst features two main modes. Race is pretty much your standard component that has you taking on other players (human or AI), and Destruction is a battle mode that doesn't really work out because of the aforementioned lack of weapons. It can be a pain having to constantly ram into other players just to destroy them when other games have managed to utilize explosive projectiles in conjunction with the aforementioned ram attack so successfully. Mario Kart, Twisted Metal, I'm looking at you.
In addition to these two modes, there are several challenges you can tackle to unlock new vehicles and characters. Unfortunately, the objectives aren't especially exciting, and racing AI opponents or destroying as many enemies as possible within a set time limit are just two of the activities that get old fast in this mode. It's a shame, too, because racing games sometimes add intriguing extra modes that change the gameplay considerably. Sadly that isn't the case with this title.
Fireburst features both local and online multiplayer. Local split-screen is pretty much what you would expect from a racing game. Up to four players can take each other on in either Race or Destruction modes. Playing with buddies definitely beats racing the AI, but all of the problems previously mentioned plague this mode, too. It's crazy to think how a lack of power-ups can really, really bring down the fun factor in a racing game, but that's definitely the case with Fireburst.
In terms of the game's online component, it's pretty much the same boring ordeal as the local multiplayer ... umm, I think. See, the thing about the online multiplayer in Fireburst is that, well, I could never connect to a game. It seems no one is playing Fireburst, and while this can certainly be blamed on the lack of fan awareness, I think if racing game aficionados actually gave Fireburst a chance, they'd probably quit and move on to something else immediately. So with that said, it's like the online mode in this game is there, but the players aren't.
I wanted to like Fireburst, I really did. As previously mentioned, I haven't played a great racing game in a good while, and it's obvious that this racer only helped that trend continue. Ultimately, the game's tight controls and gorgeous visual presentation don't take away from the fact that this is a dull racing experience that's hardly worth devoting any time to.
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