Overall Score 80%
Firewall: Your Computer's First Defense
Years ago as a young child, my view of computers changed completely when I watched the film Tron. Where previously I had thought computer innards were very dull and boring, I realised that all of those applications and virii were actually little people fighting the eternal battle of good vs evil. I still think that happens.
If any one out there still holds on to that fantasy world, you might want to take a look at ambitious new title Firewall, a Realtime Strategy game from Bolt Software that thrusts you into the role of a computer firewall, fighting viruses and regaining control of your computer's memory.
Gameplay centres around the usual RTS tasks of building, defending and attacking. In the semi-3D world you inhabit, you control a computer firewall who can build robots, drones and bases. The number of robots on offer is considerable and you can increase robot capabilities by building and attaching drones to them.
The main 26-mission campaign mode of Firewall is the meat of this game. In this mode you fight many types of virus, each with their own playstyle, over a wide variety of motherboards (terrain). Each mission involves you capturing territory through a mixture of base building, robot building and attacking the enemy. A secondary 'Battle' mode lets you pick your robots and take them into small-scale skirmishes.
To really understand the play mechanics, you need to spend time with the demo but in a way, this is probably Firewall's biggest flaw. The sheer ambition on show is a little overwhelming, even to someone like myself who has played through the entire Command & Conquer series of games. The game does start you off with a tutorial but it's very basic and doesn't really introduce the game as well as it could. It was only after several play sessions that I started to get the hang of things.
The only other problem with Firewall is the visuals. Presentation is ok but not great and the in-game graphics engine is generally very good but the package as a whole feels a little drab. Easily the worst aspect is the robot design - it's very difficult to recognise different robots which leaves you clicking around to find the right one.
Music on the other hand is a highlight. The standard in-game music isn't too bad and certainly worth listening to, but the option to add your own MP3's is a nice feature that I want to see added to more games. Sound effects are well suited to the gameplay but, like the general graphics, rarely stand out for you to notice.
My first few plays of Firewall were not my happiest, I'm just used to RTS games playing in a different way. However, I'm pleased to say that Firewall did eventually bring smiles once I'd gotten properly involved. A little dedication will bring rewards, and once you've played though the game, the added motherboard editor will extend the lifespan just a little bit further.
If you want to play a new kind of Real Time Strategy game, I'd certainly recommend trying Firewall and sticking with it for a while. Just don't expect it to play by the usual rules and you might enjoy playing it more than you'd expect.
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