I recall briefly hearing about Firefall some years ago, as people started rumors that Blizzard Entertainment was quietly working on another MMO besides World of Warcraft. Turns out the rumors were only partly true, as a few former Blizzard employees had left to form their own company, Red 5 Studios, to work on a FPS MMO that would become this game. After suffering from years of delays, beta testing and staff cuts starting in 2010 to just recently, Firefall has finally launched for all to play. While it does have it’s share of flaws, much like Bungie’s upcoming Destiny game, it’s still a pretty fun change of pace in the vast world of MMO’s.
Featuring a story written by Orson Scott Card (writer of the infamous Ender’s Game book) and some others, the plot has mankind discovering a new source of power in the distance future that allows them to create all sorts of new technology. Out of this came the creation of Battleframes, exoskeleton-like suits that grant people different kinds of fighting abilities along with the discovery of being able to warp space and time to make spaceships travel vast distances in the blink of an eye. When the first ship attempts to do so, something goes wrong and punches a giant hole in our dimension called The Melding, which is slowly spreading and mutating the planet’s surface and animals. To add insult to injury, an evil alien race known as the Chosen is also using the hole to come into our world to attack and conquer everything they can. It’s up to you, a new recruit, to fight off the Chosen while possibly finding a way to reverse the Melding as well.
Anyone who has played a first-person shooter (FPS) should feel right at home with the controls here (the buttons can always be remapped in the options). The awesome thing here is that any Battleframe you choose comes with jet boosters that allows you to jump / glide great distances, similar to the classic game Tribes. This will come in handy while trying to make your way across the world, as there are plenty of hills and rocks to rocket-jump your way up and across. Going back to the frames, there are five different classes you can choose from, Dreadnaught (heavy armor but sluggish), Assault (basic damage and armor), Biotech (attacks heal allies and hurt enemies), Engineer (can put up shields and use gun turrets to assist), and Recon (next to no armor but can fire powerful weapons from far way). Each class also has two or more frames that basically do the same as the default one, but just looks different and have slightly changed stats. As with most MMO’s, you can change your character’s gender, looks, and even voice to how you want, as well as being able to change the color and artwork of your frame. Once you’re all set, you’ll be guided around by a woman named Aero who talks to you through your comms radio. She takes you through the tutorial and helps you through mission objectives and more. Once you’re past the beginner stuff, you’ll find quests to do in the form of a job board that will let you select different missions to go on, from finding a mother’s missing son, to helping scientist find ways of eliminating the Chosen. There’s also other stuff to do, such as instances (parts of the game that are cut off from the main part), Player vs Player (PvP) stuff, and good old fashioned crafting items.
A fun spin has been placed on gathering materials for crafting, as most times you’ll have to use an item called a Thumper. When you deploy one, it plops a giant machine into the ground that pounds or “thumps” to find materials deep within the earth. While it’s gathering stuff, it also attracts enemies that you and others can fight off until it is finished. You can craft all kinds of goodies here, even a personal motorcycle to help you get around the world quicker. There’s also glider points on top of high places in the towns you come across that allow you to glide great distances as well.
While Firefall does a lot of things right, there are some parts that can use some work, mainly the combat. At first the combat feels awesome, but it quickly gets repetitive and even a little dull after awhile, even with the variety of weapons such as shotguns, gatling guns and more at your disposal. It comes off feeling like a giant shooting gallery where you just run, shoot, reload and repeat. It doesn’t help that some of the smaller enemies tend to speed around as though they’re gliding on ice at 60mph, so most times you’re wasting ammo trying to get a lock on them. This combined with them ganging on you makes for some frustrating moments as you play. Another thing I didn’t like is how other players can take items from enemies you’ve killed. One time too often I found myself nearly out of health and ammo while scrambling to grab some an enemy just dropped only to have some other player to snatch it up.
For it to be a free to play title (you still have to buy the game though), Firefall has some pretty nice production values to it. The graphics, while not groundbreaking, are very good. The character have a cel-shaded look, as the backgrounds and terrain are pretty detailed. From rock surfaces, to the fluid water effects, to lighting effects and watching day turn into night and back again, the attention to details such as these are well done. These details along with smooth framerates are made even better depending your PC specs, which luckily Firefall doesn’t seem to have any kind of high requirements to play.
The combat can get a little dull, and there’s plenty of other small problems that need to be addressed, but for the most part Firefall is a pretty fun game that just about anyone who enjoys video games can get into. If you’re looking into getting an online FPS MMO to play with your friends before Bungie’s Destiny hits the shelves, this game will keep you playing long enough to tide you over.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_fade” interval=”5″ images=”8653,8654″ onclick=”link_no” custom_links_target=”_self” img_size=”730×408″][/vc_column][/vc_row]