Heavy Fire: Afghanistan is a dreadful on-rails shooter that fails to be enjoyable or impressive in any way.

User Rating: 3.5 | Heavy Fire: Afghanistan PS3
Heavy Fire: Afghanistan shoves its way into an overcrowded genre, is obviously tightly budgeted, and is on-rails. These are premonitions for a subpar or even a bad game that should probably be avoided in the first place. Heavy Fire takes a nice comfy spot in the "bad game" category. It takes a real-world conflict and attempts to use that very setting to win over some sort of emotional response, but fails in that and almost every other aspect. The chaos of war is never captured, nor is that spark of enjoyment from playing a video game ever realized. The failures and shortcomings of this game are all recipes for disaster, which is close to where this one falls.

The campaign starts off with a dull narration of a young man realizing his dream of becoming a marine and thus sharing his story. Despite the seriousness of such a situation, it's hard to really care for this forgettable character. After all, it's unlikely that this is truly based off of a real person's story. The campaign consists of about 12 levels, plus two extremely brief shooting range missions that serve no purpose whatsoever. From the get-go, it's a quick understanding of how poor the entire game is going to play out. The only portions that the player gets to control are the aiming, shooting, and taking cover. Everything else automatically, and awful sluggishly, moves the player through portions of the level once all hostiles have been taken care of. The ridiculousness of the movement is astonishing. Much of the experience feels like a lousy slowed down breaching sequence straight from Call of Duty. The cover system is awkward and uncomfortable, especially to those using a PS3 controller. Furthermore, the cover system doesn't provide adequate cover as some enemies are still able to pop shots at you from the corner.

The flaws and other annoyances with Heavy Fire only continue to build on as the game progresses. The aiming and shooting simply have no feel whatsoever; I could have been shooting a Nerf gun for all I know. The aiming itself is sloppy, though probably a tad more manageable with Move. Even though realism is obvious not what this game is going for given hundreds of enemies are shot down in short amounts of time, some of the gameplay factors are downright ludicrous. For starters, enemies are always downed in 1 shot, no matter what and despite that fact that you're given a powerful assault rifle. Even the back up pistol slaughters all enemies in one hit. These are basically the only two weapons in the game, with the different variants of the primary weapon being unlockable. There are grenades as well, which are highly overpowered and annihilate all enemies within a fairly large radius. Vehicles, including tanks are no match for bullets and grenades, as dumb as that sounds. While these factors overall make the game exceptionally easy, it can still be a mild challenge, but in the wrong ways. Sometimes you are thrown into unfavorable situations like in front of a couple of enemies with no cover, but instances like that aren't the primary concern. Dying can prove to be the real pain in the rear as the game throws you the last checkpoint (which are by the way inconsistently strewn about the level) with only a small amount of health. Replaying a chunk of this game is the worst possible consequence of getting shot down. It might not happen to often, but it can be a bit of an annoyance trying to shoot a health pack while the game is twirling you about like a ballerina.

I'm not even finished with explaining the crappy gameplay mechanics, but I figured it would be nice of me to make another paragraph. Perhaps the single worst, and useless addition to Heavy Fire are the random and downright useless quick-time events. They occur at the most impractical occasions such as jumping over random objects and opening a door. To further add to the absurdity, they serve virtually no function whatsoever. Forget to do a quick-time event? No problem, the scene continues on as normal. The only repercussion is the fact that you don't get to hear the "Hoorah!" sound and also the 50 points for successfully pulling them off isn't awarded, but not to worry, those don't contribute to anything besides an insignificant leaderboard. To increasingly magnify the carelessness of this game, friendly soldiers who are there just to be there may be killed with who-gives-a-crap loss of 50 points. One level even has hostages, but if you don't feel like shooting around them, feel free to light them up and accept a high loss in points, but no mission failure. While these situations sound grave and maybe even shocking, the only thing offensive about Heavy Fire is how bad it is.

The subpar graphics are actually the least of Heavy Fire's worries. As far as environmental visuals go, they actually aren't too terrible. They aren't distract-ably atrocious, but they are clearly far from today's high-budget standards. This easily could have passed as a PS2 game given the way it looks and everything. Surprisingly, there is a decent amount of destruction throughout the game, though not much of it is too exciting. The voice acting is just awful, it's as if they found a homeless man on the street and paid them a few bucks to say a few lines. Explosions are dull, the audio is weak, and giving and taking bullets only adds on to the lousiness of this game's appearance. Shooting one of the same of the few different enemy soldier appearances results in the same bullet impact expected from hitting some sort of metal surface. Even knowing this is a T rated game, it's still a lame feeling when shooting an opponent. They honestly might as well have put up cardboard cutouts of enemies to shoot for the entire game, it would have felt exactly the same. Receiving bullets is no different as far as impact and giving a damn someone just got shot goes. Bullet marks through what appears like glass appear on the screen as if you are some kind of robot being shot, which you may as well be considering you can take a hell of a lot more shots than anyone else. Dying is anything but dramatic. Sometimes the player character can even be seen taking an additional step or two upon losing all health. A pop-up screen then basically says "Well damn, you're dead. What do you want to do now?", to which the first option is to inconveniently restart the entire level, but you can of course restart last checkpoint.

To pick out the positives of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan would be more like picking out the bits and pieces that didn't suck quite as much as the rest of the game. For starters, the environments within the levels somewhat vary. Most of it is what's to be expected; deserts, war torn towns, and a cave. Completing levels leads to unlocks, which include more ammo, grenades, health, and new primary weapons. This is by far the closest this game gets to rewarding, and it does manage to make the experience a little less painful, especially when playing veteran mode, which is unlocked after completing all of the levels on recruit, the only other difficulty in the game. Brevity of video games is generally looked down upon, but the fact that the missions in this one are incredibly short, usually about 10 minutes a piece, is really nice due to the monotonous gameplay, though it gives no credit to the actual quality. A couple of missions break away from the drab portions that consist of mowing down enemies on foot. One mission gives control of a tank's weaponry, though that sequence comes to an abrupt end, then it's back on foot. The highlight of the game goes to an escort missions of all things where the player controls a gunship with an unlimited arsenal of ammo and rockets. It's still a laughable level because it's impossible to take any damage or to fail, but it's the odd one out from all the other levels and almost comes close to being fun.

Playing through the campaign is an extremely short experience, which isn't hard to figure out knowing the levels only last about 10 minutes a pop. An entire playthrough can easily be accomplished in two to three hours, but veteran mode does allow for replayability. Expanded gear and changes in nighttime and daytime slightly alter the experience, but the only reason to actually play through all the missions again is if you're really wanting to earn all of the trophies from this game. Playing through Heavy Fire via co-op is also an option, though I honestly don't know how that works, but it's safe to assume that it doesn't make it that much more entertaining, unless you like to play lousy games with your friends. The only online related portion lies within the leaderboards, which is a huge whoop dee doo. It's clear that Heavy Fire was meant to be played as a PS Move game, but even if that does help out with the poor controls which are un-adjustable with a PS3 controller, it likely won't magically erase the boat-load of other flaws that are present.

In all, Heavy Fire: Afghanistan fails to accomplish anything a video game should. It fails to connect emotionally in any way to its close to home setting. It does next to absolutely nothing to convey a true sense of war. Instead it feels like a poor on-rails shooter with a serious setting slapped on it but then completely ignored afterwards. Enjoyment is an emotion that likely won't occur when playing through Heavy Fire. It's highly repetitive, but thankfully it's just as short as it is repetitive. At worst, if you are interested in completing this game 100%, only about six hours of your time will be consumed. Heavy Fire is plainly a game that looks like it should be avoided, and in this case, looks are in fact not deceiving. Depending on what other games you have played, this one is sure to make its way onto your "worst games ever played" list. To be frank, Heavy Fire: Afghanistan is a bad game. It narrowly escapes the title of straight up terrible, and "worst game ever", but that's nothing to be proud of. Do yourself a favor and just avoid this one completely, unless you are an avid trophy collector, in which case rent it. It's over in a flash and easily forgettable, but it's not still not worth the few hours it takes to play it.