FireStarter Preview

GSC Game World's upcoming first-person shooter will take place in virtual reality...gone horribly wrong!


First-person shooters, which require you to blast your enemies from a first-person perspective before they can blast you, were popularized many years ago by unrealistic arcade-style games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. While some of these games have gotten extremely sophisticated over the years--by having added team-based objectives and realistic physics--others have kept the action simple and easy to pick up. Developer GSC Game World and publisher HIP Games attempt to follow the latter path with their upcoming PC shooter FireStarter, in which you play as, of all things, a guy who's playing a video game.

In FireStarter, you assume the role of a guy who's playing a video game, which should explain the unusual environments.
In FireStarter, you assume the role of a guy who's playing a video game, which should explain the unusual environments.
In FireStarter, your character is engaging in play on a convincing virtual-reality simulator when a virus is introduced into the computer system. The system goes haywire, at once generating fierce monsters that attack you while simultaneously rendering you unable to disconnect from the virtual world. You must complete each level within a specific time period to have any hope of escaping the confines of this computer-generated place.

As you might expect from such a setting, many of the game's levels take place in futuristic, high-tech environments that feature plenty of flashing lights and neon effects. From what we've seen, several of the levels are segmented into specific sectors that must be completed sequentially by killing off a certain number of enemies within a time limit, thus causing a special "artifact" item to appear and thereby opening the door to the next area. These enemies spawn at different points in each area, which may require you to use elevators or jump-pads to reach them in time. Once you destroy an enemy, it usually drops a glowing orb that you must collect before moving on--though in true video game fashion, FireStarter's artifacts act as power-up items that grant effects like enhanced damage or speed. Additionally, you're able to grab extra boxes of ammo.

To complete your objectives, you play as one of six different character classes, which include the agent, policeman, gunslinger, cyborg, mutant, and marine. Each class has a different rating for natural armor, health, and speed, and each one has various innate skills that help it survive its hostile, computer-generated surroundings. For instance, the policeman has the "soft landing" skill that lets him fall from great heights without sustaining severe damage, and he also has a "fast reload" skill that lets him recover more quickly after emptying an entire clip on his enemies.

You'll wield a variety of weapons, including this handy circular saw.
You'll wield a variety of weapons, including this handy circular saw.
FireStarter features a single-player game that consists of four different areas, which comprise 16 different levels. You'll fight against more than 20 different kinds of tech-themed monsters, whose bodies have been augmented by slabs of metal and mechanical gears. While FireStarter probably won't be the longest game you've ever played, it will feature standard multiplayer modes, like deathmatch and team deathmatch. Fortunately, the game will hit store shelves with a budget-minded price of $20. FireStarter is scheduled for release early next year.

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