LOS ANGELES — Sega once had a quirky arcade cabinet called Brave Firefighters, but since then there really hasn’t been much attention paid to the genre of firefighting, which has been surprising, given how easily a major developer could have utilized the Nintendo Wii controls to profit by a quick and dirty firefighting sim.
They didn’t bite, so it took a small new developer called Epicenter Studios to bring the fire hose to the Wii.
Game design partners Nathaniel McClure and Bryan Jury are both former Call of Duty producers who wanted to tackle this genre for years.
“We wanted to have the action, and we wanted to do the excitement but get rid of the violence. Let’s save people instead of killing them,” said McClure in an interview with Blast.
The guys set out to create a fun and challenging video game while trying to be true to real life. They brought on a 27-year veteran California fire captain and several career firemen to consult on the game while bringing the developers’ own action game experiences to bear on this untackled genre.
“It’s been tricky balancing the realism and hardcore aspect with the fun,” McClure said. “We have a lot of action that will pull in the more hardcore gamer, but the difficulty efforts can be really insane. I challenge anyone to do expert mode and blast through it.”
My father is a firefighter, so I was dying to grab a Wiimote and attack the flames.
The game has nine levels, ranging from a simple house fire to an entire amusement park ablaze (there’s even a TV news studio fire) and the fire is completely organic. It will react and respond differently each time you play. You can point the nozzle directly at a hot spot or turn on mist mode to attack a larger area, depending on how your fire is spreading.
The game is hard. It is a good mix of timing your Wiimote actions with bluntly pouring water by the gallon from your 3″ attack line. But it’s not just about the hose. You’ll be caught in tight spaces with nothing but a handheld extinguisher, and you’ll be using various tools for car accident extrication and prying open doors.
“There are plenty of mini game collections out there. We really wanted to make an adventure game,” said Jury. “It’s single player, with a story mode. You’re a working firefighter (in) a fake LA kind of city.”
The adventure game motif shows well with voice actors from “Backdraft” and television’s Rescue Me.
While playing the game, you’ll have objectives like rescuing trapped people or killing power to an electrical fire. In between, you’re free to roam and focus on putting out the flames around you.
It’s a great game so far. Real Heroes Firefighter is the first potential hit in the fire genre, and it’s fun to boot.
The title should have been multiplayer, which could have been accomplished by adding an arcade mode where you and a friend compete to see who can put out the most flames.
Jury and McClure said they’re hoping the firefighting genre takes off, allowing them to develop more games like Real Heroes.
“This is our baby that we’ve been working on for years now. (Multiplayer) is definitely our goal — put it online, everyone rushes to the firehouse, you know?” McClure said, “It’s got a lot of potential. Hopefully the consumers will agree and we’ll go from there.”
A portion of the proceeds from this game will go to benefit the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.