‘Dudebro’. If I had to sum up exDream’s Fireburst in one word, that would be it. Every game has a unique atmosphere to it – a feel that permeates the entire experience and the world in which the game is set. Some games use this atmosphere as the personality of the game and build the entirety of gameplay around it. Amnesia: Dark Descent is an excellent example. Other games, such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution have a strong atmosphere but rely more on tactical gameplay and strong writing instead. And some games look, sound and feel like they were made by the protagonists of Dude Where’s My Car?
Though the title sounds like it would suit a space-shooter or FPS game, Fireburst is actually a racing game involving various cars, trucks and buggies. The title refers to one of the central mechanics of the game: setting your car on fire. Why? Because exploding stuff is awesome, dude.
Hitting the fireburst key heats your car up and increases your speed significantly. It’s more than a turbo-boost though, and can be used to destroy opponent cars. Depending on your vehicle, you either leave a trail of flames, shoot flames out your sides, create a flaming explosion, or turn into a flaming battering ram. Destruction only means a few seconds wasted waiting for a respawn, but in a tight race that can make a real difference.
Fireburst plays like any number of arcade-style racers out there, with players racing against computer-controlled vehicles or the clock to earn a position on the podium. There are 16 characters and their vehicles to unlock, each with a unique visual style and poorly performed voice acting. While all the male voice actors are quite clearly just the game designers behind a microphone, the origin of the female voice acting is more mystifying. Personally, I picture one of the designers begging his long-suffering girlfriend to do it as a favour, placating her by promising to take her on that picnic she’s wanted to go on for months and totally not just going over to his mate’s house to drink and play Xbox like every other weekend.
Playable characters include unique people like a redneck ex-nascar driver, hot busty blonde girl, redneck beard-guy, hot busty brunette girl, redneck hat-guyand other hot busty blonde girl. While there are technically differences between characters in the form of different statistics for handling, acceleration and so forth, those differences are almost imperceptible in the game. The only noticeable difference are the taunts you make when pressing ‘T’, which include unforgettable lines such as “I rock you suck”, “your driving is poorer than you are”, and my all-time favourite “you’re all horrid and smelly”. If Shakespeare drove hotrods, surely this would be the result.
Yet, for all its flaws, it’s actually a pretty competent racer. The fire mechanic does add a unique twist to the game, forcing the player to balance heat levels against speed and constantly keep an eye out for sources of water to cool down their car. The cooler you keep your car, the more speed boosts you can attain and the more opposing cars you can destroy.
A racing sim this ain’t; the simplistic driving model and dudebro high-five explosions would be right at home on any console system. Yet, set to a constant pounding rock beat it does a decent job of creating a competitive and hair-raising atmosphere, especially when you get up to higher speeds in cramped environments.
Fireburst doesn’t set any benchmarks for graphics, and sets a new low benchmark for voice acting, but its indie origins are laid bare for all to see. It doesn’t pretend to be ground-breaking and it’s a perfectly amusing diversion from the outside world for an hour or two at a stretch. Switch off your brain, turn up the rock, and go explode some cars, dudebro.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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