We’ve seen racing games with weapons, and every racing game these days has some type of boosting system. But have you ever played a game that combines the two to give you a new balancing mechanic to work with while racing? If that’s something that you were looking for I think your day is about to get brighter.
Fireburst gets its name by combining the two together. Using boost will heat up the car, causing it to burst into flames which you can use to scorch your enemies. Don’t get too comfortable with that, though. Instead of running out of boost, if you allow the heat to get too high your car will explode. Opponents can also do the same thing, and if their fires cause your car to get too hot you’ll find that your new nickname is “crispy” in no time. If your car gets too hot there are water barrels on the race tracks, pools of water, and other objects that spray water around the track to help you cool off. On the opposite end of that, however, there are also exploding barrels that can take you over the edge if you are there.
This is the balancing act you will need to learn. Do you use your boost to catch up or get ahead, or use the flames to take out an opponent? Also, do you want to risk getting too hot from your own boost, then have an enemy can come and kiss you with a flame; causing you to explode? These are scenarios you need to think about every time you get ready to use that boost. It’s definitely a risk versus reward scenario, and adds a strategic element to the game.
There are four different types of fire attacks available; each determined by which car you use. Fireball engulfs your car in flames, doing damage to cars as you hit them. Fireblast is a ring of fire that charges and then explodes when released to damage surrounding enemies. Firewall shoots flames from the side of your vehicle. Finally, Firewheels leave a trail of flames behind them. Depending on your racing style, anyone should be able to find an attack style that suits them. That is, when you actually get a chance to choose which vehicle you want.
This brings us to the biggest problem with Fireburst: content. Fireburst has 12 tracks with 16 drivers (eight unlockable) and 16 vehicles (also eight unlockable) available. There is plenty of choice when it comes to that aspect. The problem is that there is barely any compelling single player content. There are no racing circuits, cups, or leagues. Not even time trials. When you do go into the Fireburst League option you are presented with eight of the drivers and challenges to complete. Completing these challenges will unlock other drivers and cars, but after you get them there is no real reason to use them.
The worst part about the challenges is that many of them just aren’t fun. Many of these challenges don’t even require finishing the race, or they cause you to drive in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise, just to complete the challenge. One challenge is to finish the race in the top three, but you can’t hit any barrels. It doesn’t sound too bad, but it stops being fun when the barrels are placed in such a way that I have to drive 2mph just to navigate through so I don’t hit them.
One trial that frustrated me so much that I couldn’t finish it involved a timer counting down. The only way to stop it was to ride through water or regenerate it with airtime during jumps. The big problem was that areas where you could get hang time were severely limited and water was hard to come by. I appreciate a good challenge, but when that challenge is more frustrating than fun it’s no good.
Besides the challenges, you get to set up custom races, play Destruction mode, and set up multiplayer matches. Destruction puts you on an arena-like track. The objective is simple: use your fire attack to kill your opponents. This was fun to play, but felt pointless due to there being no league or anything else to track your progress. Multiplayer is pretty much a non-factor since no one is playing it. I find this to be a major issue in many indie racers.
It’s really a shame that Fireburst doesn’t give compelling reasons to play it. I can tell that hard work was put in on the visuals as well as the track designs. With the exception of driving during challenges, the tracks were enjoyable to play. They weren’t boring or repetitive; they split up and offered multiple pathways to take, with many hills and dips along the way. The look and style of each track was unique, and when I did set up a custom race or did a quick race I found myself having a good time. One again however, the game failed to keep my attention because it lacks racing basics to keep the player engaged.
Unfortunately, I can’t see myself playing Fireburst past this review. While exDream did a good job on creating a unique mechanic, game visuals, and track design, they missed key features that would keep the players coming back. I would say better luck next time, but in this age of DLC the game is still salvageable if they added a true racing league component. If they do, great! If they don’t, I guess Fireburst will just sit on that sector of my HDD collecting digital dust.