Red 5 has done the impossible. They have created a Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter (MMO FPS) that even this grumpy 61 year old reviewer can love. Firefall simply rocks; there is no other way to say it. The game is easy to learn, packed with excitement, highly addictive, and, best of all, its free to play.
Most FPS demand the reflexes of a star athlete and have a learning curve that requires a degree from MIT. Firefall is built on fun and favors no one player over the other. While skill and great reflexes will always be a plus, I was able to jump right into Firefall, and within 30 seconds I was having a blast.
This morning I joined the game on my new Biotech and landed right in the middle of an invasion of my home base by a wave of enemy players. I used my jetpack to leap up to a roof and picked off one enemy after the other with the assistance of several other players from my base. When an enemy was able to damage me, I fired back and the damage I did helped to heal me. When things got sticky on the ground and my teammates started taking too much damage, I rocketed down and released a healing wave to help them recover. The perfect class for an old guy like me.
Firefall takes place 200 years in the future on an Earth that has been radically altered by an asteroid that crashed into the planet and caused a nine year long winter. The climate change ravaged the Earth and killed hundreds of millions of human beings. In the scattered remains of the asteroid, scientists discovered a powerful new element called Crystite that is capable of generating almost unlimited energy.
Earth begins to recover with the use of Crystite and after tracing the source back to the Alpha Centauri star system, the distant planet of Alpha Prime is colonized to mine the rare element. As Earth becomes more dependent on Crystite, the world’s governments become more paranoid about the the ability of Alpha Prime colonists to blackmail Earth and decide to develop a gigantic space ship to control the situation.
The ship, named the Arclight, uses a new technology to generate wormholes and travel almost instantly to Alpha Prime. During the initial test of the Arclight, a tragic failure occurred, and a space ship the size of a city crashed in Brazil, causing a cataclysm.
As a result of the crash, a huge tear in the fabric of space and time appeared and unleashed a massive energy storm on the Earth. This storm, called The Melding, swept across the planet, leaving only small habitable patches of land in its wake.
Much of humanity is wiped out in The Melding, and the planet Earth is devastated. Most of the animal life is mutated into dangerous, aggressive new species, the climate is radically altered, and even Earth’s terrain is twisted and torn until the planet is almost unrecognizable.
Making matters even worse, while the planet is being ripped apart, an alien race called The Chosen arrives and attempts to conquer Earth. The few remaining colonies of humanity must form into militias and fight to survive against huge hordes of mutant creatures led by The Chosen while scientists desperately look for a way to cleanse the Earth of The Melding.
Firefall combines the best elements of a First Person Shooter with the questing, crafting, and adventuring of a highly detailed MMO. The game has done away with levels in favor of tiers, improved weaponry, and a full range of customization of the all important Battleframe.
Evey player’s gear is built around the Battleframe, which is a head to toe suit of armor equipped with a jetpack. There a five Battleframes, each with a different role; Assault, Recon, Biotech, Engineer, and Dreadnaught. Assault is your basic infantry unit, Recon fights from range and fills the role of the sniper, Biotech is a medic with offensive abilities, Engineer crafts powerful devices to destroy enemies, and Dreadnaught is the heavily armored tank. Each Battleframe comes with several different class specific weapons, and everything is up-gradable as the player gains experience, engages in PvP and completes quests.
Jetpacks are a wonderful addition to the game. They allow an alert player to quickly rocket into strategic positions, rapidly escape enemies, and, most importantly, fight from mid-air. In one encounter I was able to defeat a well geared Dreadnaught on my Biotech by rocketing away from his lethal fire, jumping in and out of range of the less mobile enemy. As we fought, I literally ran circles around him, watching my health while slowly whittling away his life. Since he was in my base, I was able to use my jetpack to quickly fly over to a healing station and instantly heal to full and refill my ammo supply. Then I rocketed back over and finished him off with the help of a teammate who joined the fight.
The encounter points out several important features of Firefall. The Jetpack opens up a wide range of options in combat and allows the player to incorporate strategy and terrain into any situation. Players who do not favor a fast twitch FPS style of combat are able to hold their own in Firefall and this greatly expands the appeal of the game.
The developers selected the Offset Engine to power Firefall. This engine features heavily modified cell shading resulting in lush, bright colors. The graphics are wonderfully detailed with well defined environments. The characters and enemies have an anime feel instead of a realistic look, which works well with the high level of action in the game. The Offset Engine handled the combat flawlessly during all my beta play sessions, and I experienced no lag or connection problems.
Ultimately, the team at Red 5 has many goals for Firefall. The game will feature open-world cooperative campaigns that can be shared with hundreds of other players and highly competitive PvP with ladders, tournaments, clans and leagues. The game is being designed to allow participation in the rapidly growing world of E Sports, and the best of the best in Firefall will eventually be able to compete for serious money in internationally televised tournaments and leagues. Rounding out all the positive aspects of Firefall, it is completely Free To Play, and that makes this great game even more attractive.
Firefall has something to offer to every gamer. Whether you are a dedicated world class player of First Person Shooters or a rank amateur, you will love this game. You can devote 10 hours a day to Firefall, join a competitive league, or just play it causally. No matter how much time you decide to invest in playing the game, you are guaranteed to have a great time and that’s what online gaming is all about. Most people play MMOS to have fun, and, when it comes to fun, Firefall certainly delivers.