Reign of Fire (PS2)

Reign of Fire (PS2)

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 2/5/2003 for PS2  

Awesome, that looks like Jackal! I said aloud as I was checking out the screenshots for Reign of Fire. That was nearly a year ago, now that I’ve played the game it’s more like “Jesus, this was supposed to be Jackal, what the hell happened?”

Yes yes, I was once again taken by that brutal beast known as the screenshot monster. You know what I’m talking about, that little being that compels you to look at the screenshots of the game and gawk in awe, drooling with anticipation for the game’s release only to be utterly disappointed. Sometimes the screenshots deliver (read: Amped) but often times they don’t, enter Reign of Fire.

In case you’re not familiar with the game’s namesake it’s based on the major motion picture of the same name, and while the flick was actually quite enjoyable, the same can’t be said for this debacle. Yea the game does an admirable job of recreating the game’s atmosphere but the fun ends there. Imagine that you’re able to control the characters in the flick except you’re given a horrid control scheme, some repetitive mission goals and no hot chick to gawk at, and you have the gist of this lackluster title.

From the onset of the game you’ll realize that you would have been better off flushing your parents’ hard-earned money down the crapper as opposed to blowing it on this steaming pile of defecate. I just love the first mission, your fort/castle/chateu/craphole is under attack by an infestation of ground-based dragon-like creatures. According to the Van Zendt (you’ll recognize him as the main character because he’s too cool to be called by his first name), it’s time to get serious and defend the fort. According to me, it’s time to grab a newspaper, leave the game running and go sit on the john for a good 15 minutes. Why? Because the enemies are so damn stupid that they’ll run headlong into a wall, all while your friendly troops are taking them out for you. In short the AI coding is pretty atrocious, not Grand Theft Auto Vice City bad, but pretty damn weak.

There’s a reason why you can’t manually control the aim of your weapons in Twisted Metal Black, and that’s because it’s too damn confusing. It’s one thing to run around and free look but trying to do it in a moving vehicle is just damn near impossible. You’re forced to do the job of two people (that of the driver and the gunner) at the same time, leading to a pretty frustrating experience. Not only do you have to worry about the obstacles on the ground but you’ll also have to keep your sights on some pretty hard to hit targets. Remember how difficult it was to hit things from the gunner position in HALO? Multiply that difficulty tenfold and you have an idea of why this game just doesn’t work.
When the lackluster controls aren’t bogging you down, the game’s visuals are picking up the slack. Truth be told everything in the game has a plain and uninspired look, it makes me wonder who let it get past quality control. Special effects really aren’t even all that special, an early sequence has me shooting down giant balloons that I assume are filled with helium. Puncturing one of them would most likely send them out of control, sweeping around violently before it hits the ground right? Wrong, it merely falls down to Earth (with no major physics or inertia system intact mind you) and suddenly bursts in to a ball of flame. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Homer pours milk on to the cereal and it catches on fire? Now multiply the stupidity by 10 and you’ll get an idea of just how inane the game’s visuals are. Yes it’s funny, but for all wrong reasons.

The terrain is just horrible and it adversely affects the gameplay. You’ll see rocks and such but your vehicle can go right through them. I’m serious, it looks like absolute garbage. You can go through trees, carcasses, some vehicles and even some of the buildings. Sometimes your vehicles can climb steep slopes with the slightest of ease while a seemingly flat surface will give your vehicle all sorts of problems. And what happens when you run into a solid object? You’ll bounce off of it and go on your merry way. I guess everything is rubberized to protect against dragon attacks or something.

I’m going to give the game credit where it’s due, the guy the voice actors do a great job of mimicking their on-screen counterparts. The guy they got to play Van Zendt does a great job of recreating that whole, deep-throated, nitty-gritty, god I’m constipated where’s the nearest port-a-potty voice that’s all the rage with today’s action stars. Then again there’s a dark side to the game’s audio as well. The sound effects are just horrifically sub-par, rivaling some of the worst that the PSOne games had to offer. All of the sounds effects come through my speakers in muddled fashion, almost as if they were recorded in the office’s toilet bowl with one of those cheap $2 microphones.

There’s not much to like here, not even for die hard fans of the film. There’s no consistency between the game’s plot and that of the movie’s so don’t come here expecting to relive some of your favorite celluloid moments. This is a pretty amateurish entry that really should be avoided at all costs.
It doesn’t matter how much like you liked the movie, it won’t make you enjoy this game. This game is just so bad, don’t bother torturing yourself with it.

Rating: 4.8 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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