Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Rick Casteel

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Activision Value
Price Range: $20
Learning curve time: 15 min.
Age level: 10+
ESRB Rating: Everyone
System Requirements: P300. 64 RAM, 125 meg HD, 3-D Graphics video

Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 5 of 5
   (nothing offensive)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 4 of 5
   (barely present)
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Screenshot from 'Firefighter - In the Line of Duty'
Recently, I was contacted by Activision Value, an arm of Activision that specializes in low cost software below the $29.99 level. Now having 3 teens with 3 PC's and different tastes, I find this price range much more palatable than most titles coming out at $50-$60. They sent several games, which I will be reviewing over the next few months, and letting you know if you get your money's worth out of these inexpensive games.

One of the boxes that caught my eye was "Firefighter: In the Line of Duty". It had a corny tag line of "3-D shooter with a firehose!" on the box but seemed unique among all the recent games I'd played. The game allows you to play the part of a fireman responding to a series of fires. The fires start out fairly simple but grow in complexity as you progress. Each area is timed so you are always working against the clock as you rescue trapped civilians and put out the blaze.

There are two elements to each fire that the player must deal with. For each level, you must first transverse a fiery building and save several trapped individuals inside. Now here is where I experienced my first surprise. In the first building you enter there are steps you must transverse. What do you want to do when you walk up steps? Look up! You cant! That's right, there is no ability to use your mouse to look up and down. I almost put the game away there but am thankful I didn't. As it turns out, you don't have a need to use this feature in the game. It never affected my outcome in any event but was disconcerting since it was such common function.

The second phase of handling each call has the player hosing down the fire from outside the building. Essentially, the game moves you around the structure and places you where you remain stationary and use your mouse to aim the water hose at various blazes. You have to manage your water supply as well as timing to complete this section. Rescue the trapped people put out the fire and on to the next level.

Now have no doubt, this is not a game using the latest graphics or AI (artificial intelligence). You do require a 3-D graphics card to play, but will be viewing an engine that's a few years dated. The fire is well done as are the smoky interiors, but the detail is poor and most objects are blocky and plain. Physics are also not taken into account.

Sometimes, when I would be attempting a rescue and be overcome with heat or smoke, my body would fall directly in the fire and would remain there until, as another firefighter, I came to rescue him/me (you get it?). Not affected a bit by the blaze I had been lying in!

Also, in an effort to make areas tricky to navigate, the fire is made to move around an area in a strange, patrolling pattern. You have to time your efforts to get past it but this breaks the illusion of the setting.

You can tell from the score, however that I liked this game. One of my beefs with the gaming industry is in making games that take too much of our time, cost too much to make and therefore to buy, just to sit on our shelves being too long or too complex to complete (Has anyone REALLY gone all the way through "Baldur's Gate 2"?).

I recall reading an article that estimated that >70% of games purchased are never completed! Games are ready to eclipse Hollywood as the most lucrative form of entertainment. Can you imagine if 70% of people walked out of every movie? Well, With "FF:ITLOD", I could sit down, play for 20-30 minutes and actually complete a section of the game, sometimes twice if I didn't get it the first time. I liked the concept and sensibility of the game. I was there to save people, not blow someone away, or manage resources, or figure out a puzzle. I would put this in the same genre as "SWAT 3", one of my favorite titles, albeit without the strategy required.

Similarly, the player is put in a familiar role, given the virtuous task of rescue, placed against tough odds in a dangerous situation. Not many games can provide ALL those elements and keep a player interested, but “Firefighter” does a good job. It was easy to learn, very straightforward and rewarding when I finished. It may not be the prettiest thing out there but it sure satisfies the gaming urge!

Year of Release—2000

Positive—I had been looking for a good firefighting game for a while and finally found this. I figured, "What the heck, I'll give it a shot," as it only had a five dollar price tag. I enjoyed this game thoroughly, except for the flames that just seem to walk around in circles, and the occasional need to rescue myself. My Ratings: [5/4]
   —Jonathan Rogers, age 16

Negative—This game was pretty lame. The graphics weren't at all what I expected. The physics [stunk] and this was a total disappointment. My Ratings: [4/2]
   —Justin K, age 13

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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