I'd seen Firewarrior on the shelf of my local Woolworths(RIP) and skipped it a number of times waiting for a review. Until one day I just decided to buy it on impulse. I did not regret that decision at all, and still don't.
As someone who knew absolutely nothing about the Warhammer background, the game presented the opportunity to play a Sci-Fi themed FPS from an alien perspective. For me this was groundbreaking, I'd never heard of a game that let you do this.
The plot: You are Kais, a promising Firewarrior (General Infantryman) of an alien species called the Tau. On a mission to rescue a ruling cast leader. Your species has had little or no contact with this hostile species known as humanity or The Imperium in 40K terms.
Along the way you will battle Imperial Guard, Space Marines, but who is really puling the strings?
The Cast: The voice acting was second to none, part of the reason I bought it as it has a fine cast. Burt Kwok adds his distinctive Asian sound which fits perfect with race of the Tau, who are after all modelled after the Japanese Mecha Anime, whose role is as your superior in the game. Brian Blessed pomps it up nicely as the ever so smug Admiral. Sean Pertwee is perfect as the sly Governor Severus and Peter Serafinowicz is perfectly cast Captain Ardius of the Adeptus Astartes. And of course there is Tom Bakers flawless vocals as the narrator of the story.
The game itself:
This is where things go a little bit awry. The game itself comes across as needing a few more months of polishing and debugging and generally smoothing out the rough edges. The pace and flow of the game can be somewhat erratic. One moment you will be blasting your way through a horde of IG and the next you'll be lost, in silence, trying to figure out what to do.
The graphics ranged from "that's quite nice" to "what am I supposed to be looking at?", its worth bearing in mind this was long before Killzone and the PS2 still didn't have a Halo killer, even Timesplitters was generally considered only just above average. Some weapon effects were quite lovely, though the textures and model skins were quite low quality, even for the time.
Sound effects varied between nice weapon sounds and awfully low quality comm chatter among the IG. The music score sometimes appears unfinished or at least not used to the the best effect. It is especially noticeable after an intense fighting sequence, where normally music would revert to a "tension" version, but just seems to stop here. The classical score itself it quite nice.
Firstly the game was criticised quite heavily for not delivering the Halo killer the media claimed PS2 fans were crying out for. To be quite honest, I find the Halo games incredibly dull, its only saving grace is the plot which is rather hackneyed. At least with Firewarrior you have an introduction into one of the richest high Sci-Fi franchises around.
Secondly, I have to say that TableTop fans hated this game, as they hate pretty much every Warhammer game. Since you play the role of a single FireWarrior, a low cost (in tabletop game terms) grunt who is in no way a match for a Space Marine, yet you dispatch them and hordes of Imperial Guard during the game. I argue that you are no normal Tau, you are "Kais", a special character and we all know that special characters do special things> The "Kais" character would go on to lead the Tau in the DoW game Dark crusade.
One of my biggest gripes with the game was based on the description of the Tau from the manual. It kind of led you to believe that as you progressed through the game, new types of armour would be made available to you, such as the stealth armour. This was because the description of the Tau came directly from the fluff created by GamesWorkshop, detailing unnecessarily, the different types of power armour that you will never see in the game.
In brief summary:
The game could have been better if more time had been spent polishing up both the graphics and the finer gameplay elements and design. These days the game is pretty weak, but the voice acting I find is still superb and the plot rather intriguing. I'm now a massive fan of the 40K lore and video games, I've read many of the "Black Library" works (which are surprisingly well written). If it wasn't for Firewarrior I'd still consider 40K to be the geekiest of hobbies.
Ultimately, all the good can only just balance out the bad leaving an honest average score.
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