reviews\ Oct 28, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Reign of Fire - PS2 - Review

It is a trend that is becoming quite prevalent – see the movie, then play the game.

Reign of Fire, a Bam! release for the PlayStation2, is the latest to throw its hat into that ring. While the game is solid graphically, if you are looking for depth of gameplay, look elsewhere. The game only touches on the movie in a few areas. Yes, there are dragons that have overrun the world. Yes, human enclaves are heavily armed and under attack. And yes, Denton Van Zan arrives with a troop of well armed and trained ‘irregulars’ to help push back the invading force.

From that point on the game diverges into a shooter game.

You begin on the side of the humans, learning to drive your armed 4x4, blasting critters on the ground and an airborne dragon assault on your compound. There are weapon power-ups scattered that you must collect in order to keep your armament at top condition. Sit in one place too long, and you will be targeted and ignited.

There are four controllable vehicles in this game: the 4x4 Jeep, a tank, fire truck and buggy. Weapons include machine gun turret, tank cannon, ground-to-air rocket, heat-seeking missile, water cannon, and water grenade.

Now here is where the game gets interesting: complete several missions as the human force, and you unlock the dragon missions. Yep, you will get to play as a dragon attacking the human forces.

The game features a one if by land, two if by air mentality. Jakyls are the ground force the humans must battle. They move quickly but tend to run in straight lines, which make them easy targets for your guns. Dragons fire tracers, which can also be tracked back to the source. And it doesn’t take much to lock on with a heat-seeker.

The game has been simplified in control elements, though there are two settings and the advanced one definitely adds more challenge to the game. In the simplified control settings, the left analog stick is what is used to aim. Wherever you aim, that’s where your vehicle will go if you hit the accelerator. In the advanced settings, the left analog controls all vehicle movement, from direction to momentum. The right analog button controls your selected weapon.

For those not familiar with the storyline, here it is in a nutshell. In present-day London, a young boy’s mother, a construction engineer, accidentally uncovers and awakens a fire-breathing dragon from its centuries-long sleep. Well, the dragon is hungry and feels the need to breed. Twenty years later, the world has been overrun by the massive beast and its offspring. Fast forward to 2084 – the human race has dwindled significantly and is under constant attack from the dragons. That young boy, Quinn, is now grown and on the front line in the battle for survival of the human race.

Reign of Fire is a good-looking game, interspersed with movie footage, and is primarily a shooter game from a third-person perspective. You maneuver your vehicle – where it is human-driven vehicle or dragon – throughout a hostile environment blasting away at anything not on your side. The action is fast paced.

The player interface has been kept simple to allow immediate access to the game. Each mission has its own set of criteria that must be met in order to collect a medal and advance.

With its strong graphics and seemingly non-stop combat, this is a game that will likely appeal to fans of that type of game. There are a host of missions (16 for humans alone) that will challenge players, whether with the simple control elements in place or the advanced.

This game is rated Mature.

Gameplay: 8
Once in a battle, the action is nonstop. There are hordes of enemies to fight, and you must keep on the move. The mapboards are big enough to give you room to roam, and the cutscenes have been kept down, allowing the game action to supplant the majority of the program. While each mission has criteria that must be met, the nature of this combat beast insures replayability.

Graphics: 8.2
The game features well-designed environments. The animation is smooth, though the special effects, like fire, are adequate enough to convey the feel, but not strong enough to make you feel the heat.

Sound: 8
The game intersperses movie soundtrack with in-game combat sounds. This element supports the graphics well.

Difficulty: Medium
The control elements have been kept easy enough to allow anyone to jump in and play on one level, and yet can be set to challenge. The chaotic nature of the battles will have players on their toes constantly.

Concept: 7.8
Tying this game to the movie may imply that it is an adventure game with puzzles to solve and an actual plot. Not so. This is a shooter game, and could easily have stood on its own without the movie tie-in.

Overall: 8.1
Reign of Fire is a fast-paced game with loads of action. The game looks good and plays well, and is very forgiving – especially if you are driving a vehicle and not paying much attention to where you are going, but are concentrating on what you are shooting at. The AI is average, and enemies tend to move in a predictable manner, making them easy to target. The anomalies of terrain do throw the concept of ‘easy pickings’ down the drain, and you have to be constantly on the move, jostling and bouncing about, or the game will end quickly. This is an enjoyable game, and should suit most fans of action-packed shooting games.


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