Xbox LIVE Arcade Reviews

Fireburst Review: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

fireburstheaderFireburst, for all intents and purposes, may as well be completely unplayable. The core mechanic of this racing game is built around a “heat” meter on the left side of the screen which serves as a combination health/boost bar, where the more boost you use (or heat your vehicle collects) the closer you are to dying. While this may seem like something that would keep you on the edge of your seat, more often than not the frustrating foibles of the game make you want to stop, drop and roll.

The game admittedly makes a great first impression – I’m heading to Amazon to download that intro song right now – but beyond that you’ll encounter nothing but false advertising. Want to “Begin your solo career?” Well, if by “career” you mean random races or impossible challenges, then step right this way. Want to “Learn how to play Fireburst?” Well, if by “tutorial” you mean being dropped into a race with absolutely no instructions, then this is the place.

fireburst003_optimizedAlright, let’s presume you picked an option which resulted in you moving your car forward along a track. The vehicles themselves handle poorly, bouncing off the ground and flopping every direction at the slightest bumper-tap from an opponent. Collisions with walls may end in explosive death or no damage at all, but may just as easily flip you around so quickly that you literally have no idea which direction you are supposed to proceed. Perhaps the most telling sign of this flaw is the “helpful” advice on the first “tutorial” stage which says: “If you get lost, just hit the reset button.” (Not that the game ever tells you which button that is.) And when (not if) you end up going the wrong direction, the game not only takes its time informing you of this, but once you turn around and go the other way, the game waits a moment and then informs you again that you are going the wrong direction (even though you actually aren’t).

Now let’s presume you’ve gone forward a sufficient distance to pass a few checkpoints, haven’t been blinded enough by water barrels in the middle of the road and have managed not to crash. Sometimes throughout the branching course paths, there will be jumps. Because your boost meter isn’t always available (because, you know, using it makes you die) sometimes you won’t be able to clear these jumps. So you might as well quit the race and start over. Allow me to explain: respawn points frequently don’t give you enough lead up time to clear the jump ahead, and will occasionally also not provide enough space for you to back up far enough to get a running start. If you get stuck in one of these situations, despite all other racers having finished an hour ago, your only recourse is to literally quit the race. Like I said: for all intents and purposes, the game then might as well be completely unplayable.

fireburst010_optimizedThe multiplayer experience functions just the same as the single player experience described above, except with at least one other person in the match, you know for a fact that you are not the only human being on the planet suffering through this game. (Note: as of this writing, there are currently only seven players listed on the public Leaderboards; presumably, each individual occupies their own circle of hell.) Consequently, Fireburst is a game that is not recommended for anyone to play, ever. I would wholeheartedly recommend the demo version just so you could hear the cool intro music, but because I’m such a nice guy, I’m going to save you the trouble of doing that as well and direct you to Amazon for an audio sample of: Drive by Hawthorne Heights. You’re welcome.

SCORE: 4.0 out of 10

A code for Fireburst was provided to Pixel Related for review.

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