Multiplayer squad action game reviewed
System Requirements - Pentium 166 or equivalent 32Mb RAM 4x CD-Rom drive Full duplex sound card 28.8K modem
FireTeam is a multiplayer only title, putting the emphasis on getting people to play together in teams. Playing on your own isn't really possible, and certainly isn't a good idea if you want a good game.
The game comes with four basic play modes -
Base Tag: Protect your own base stations while destroying your rivals' station(s)
Capture The Flag: Capture and hold the flags on the map. Hold more flags for more time to win
Gunball: A kind of American football with guns - get the ball into the opposition endzone to score
Team Deathmatch: Deathmatch with a twist. Kills in the first phase generate generate life tokens, these are then spent as extra lives in the final phase
While this isn't a huge list of game types, they are all quite enjoyable, and certainly the atmosphere generated by playing with your other team members makes the experience all the more fun.
Since Fireteam is designed for internet play and is aimed at all types of connection, Cryo have obviously had to work hard on their net code to ensure good results.
When the game was shown at British computer games trade show ECTS last year, there were connection problems from the company's stand, which didn't bode too well. Thankfully they seem to have worked them all out.
The game will initially require you to register your game on their website, at which point you create your player profile. This can then be tracked and logged on their game servers so that your stats are available for all the world to see. Teams also have their performances logged and available to view, which means that you can check out the quality of the opposition in advance!
Once you are signed up, the client can be started. This connects you to the game server, and presents you with a window from which you can see what's going on and chat to other players. The usual join or create game options exist, as does an indication of your ping in the form of a traffic light system. Green is good, orange implies you might experience some lag (which I didn't), and red indicates that it just isn't worth trying...
Once a game is agreed upon by all the respective players it can be started. The game will then run and connect to the client to determine what it should be doing.
Once the game has started, a very special feature of Fireteam kicks in .. full duplex real-time voice communication. Voice comms software for games has been around a while, and products like BattleField Communicator and Roger Wilco have done a great deal to make real-time voice comms a definite possibility. In fact Shadow Factor (the company behind BattleField Communicator) have been bought out by Microsoft, who will use their technology in DirectX 8.
Cryo have done a great job with their own voice software for Fireteam, and even with my 56k modem the quality was good and didn't really impact on the speed of the game. Thoughtfully Cryo have also included a headset in the box with the game, to ensure that anyone playing Fireteam can talk to their team-mates.
Sound and Vision
Seeing that Fireteam is designed with lower minimum system specs in mind, the level of graphical intensity is quite low.
The game features an isometric view of the world, which does make life a little more interesting when you walk behind something, but in the main this viewpoint is okay. It does make it a little difficult to aim your character, which is why the mouse is used in a point and click style to target and shoot your enemies.
Detail wise the levels aren't bad, and the regeneration pods look relatively cool. It is perhaps a little disappointing to find a game that won't really tax your expensive new Pentium III and GeForce rig, but the focus is more on gameplay than graphics, and on the gameplay front Fireteam is more than successful.
Sound is another slight disappointment, as there is no use of any 3D positional audio. In an isometric world it might have been useful to identify where sounds are coming from relative to the player, but unfortunately you're just going to have to have your wits about you.
Fireteam was extremely fun to play, even as a newbie, and I would certainly recommend that you check it out if you fancy some team based action without having to resort to the domain of the first person shooter. It's also worth trying if you don't have a high end PC and super fast net connection, as Fireteam isn't too demanding on the hardware front.
One of the greatest things about the game though is the sense of community. When you start off your status is listed as new, and instead of taking flak from more experienced players, they actually help you! I didn't read the manual, which isn't the best idea, and so I didn't know how to join in the fun. Thanks to the other players, I was still playing in no time.
Fireteam is great fun, and a definite case of gameplay over graphics. With low system requirements and only needing a 56k modem to achieve results, Cryo have certainly done a good job. Fireteam is one to check out if you fancy something different. Release Date - available now