Real Heroes: Firefighters is a first person shooter...yes you read that correctly. First developed for the Wii, it has had different ports the newest of which arrives on the Nintendo Switch.
The game starts you with an optional tutorial. You probably don't need to go through the tutorial, as most of the actions are pretty straight forward; you select your item using the directional buttons, the crow bar is used to open doors, the ax is used to chop wooden objects, the fire extinguisher and the hose are used to put out fires (obviously). There are a few additional tools that you pick up and use, most are self explanatory, except for one, the dreaded buzz saw. And it's not that it's difficult to figure out, it looks pretty simple to master. You pick up the buzz saw and hit the right shoulder button to cut. However, cutting on the line is a bit tricky.
And this pretty much sums up the whole game, but there just seems to be something a little off.
Graphically speaking, the game looks good. The art style looks like a graphic novel, with the onomatopoeias to boot. And the locations are well done too. You'll be putting out fires at factories, movie theaters, a museum; there are plenty of different scenarios that you are called to. And the game pulls it off nicely with no issues with rendering or lag.
And the game utilizes the voice acting skills of Michael Jace, John DiMaggio, James Marsters, Jenette Goldstein, and Jamie Kennedy, and all the actors do a great job. These actors make up the crew you fight fires with, but the problem is you don't ever really feel like you are part of the group. Nobody really interacts with you. The characters talk at you, but you don't have options to interact back with them. Case in point, after one of the missions, you return back to the fire station, and you witness a conversation between two of the crew members. One member is accusing the other of eating their sandwich. But that's all you are doing, observing. You can't interact with the other characters (you can't even walk around the fire station). Another example is when the crew is talking to each other and they mention you, and one of the characters makes a statement not to pick on the rookie. "Hey! That's me! I'm sitting right here!" is what you want to say, but you can't. You just have to sit there and listen to them talk. And because of this, you never really feel like you are part of the game.
And the writing in the game is bad. In one of the missions, you save a factory worker (by the way, there are a lot of escort missions in this game, if that's not your thing, stay clear). He makes a statement "Hey can you save my friend, he owes me $20?" That's the reason he wants him to be saved? Not because he's another human being, but because he owes you $20 bucks? And when you do save his friend, the first thing the character asks is if he can get his $20 back. Maybe you didn't notice, but the building is on fire!
Another example - you hear on the intercom that there is a gas leak upstairs, there is chatter between one of the male characters and a female character (don't ask me to name them, I never got attached to them). The male character says, "Getting too hot for you darling?" and the female character makes some snarky comeback about how she needs to save him all the time. And I'm thinking, "This is the most dysfunctional group of idiots...we're going to die".
I get what the writer's intentions were, they were trying to make it feel like a drama. But it just fell flat. It didn't feel real at all, and because of that, I never felt that I was in any real danger. It all seemed like one big inside joke, and I wasn't part of it.
Speaking of flat, when your character does speak (and it's very little) he's so dull. There is no emotion in the voice, it's almost like the actor recorded a bunch of lines but didn't understand what the situation was.
The missions are all basically the same. Go into a burning building, save people, put out fires, listen to the nonsense that your teammates are saying, and get out. The game play itself isn't bad, but the fact that you have to listen and put up with the crew you are part of makes the game much less fun.
There are a few puzzles you will need to figure out in the game. The puzzles are pretty basic. But if you don't do the puzzles the way the game was designed, then you won't be able to beat the puzzle. There is no room for ingenuity. An example of this is when you come across some gas lines leaking, causing flames to shoot out. There are four leaks total, and the leaks alternate firing. Two will fire, a short pause, and then the next two will fire. Your gamer instincts will tell you to get past the first leak, wait and then run after the next leak fires, then wait, and so on until you get out of the area. Throw those instincts aside. The game wants you to just run when the short pause happens. If you do what your instincts tell you, you will die even though you are clearly not getting hit by the flames (trust me, I tried this ten times before I realized that I need to just run through that area). It's an awful feeling when you think you have a plan in place, but it doesn't seem to work until you finally realize that you just need to do what the game designer wants you to do.
Final Grade: C-
Visually, the game looks great. And at its core, there is something cool happening here. But the game still falls flat. It's like the game designer and the writers didn't talk to each other. It's frustrating too because this could have been a really great game. The voice actors (outside of your own character) do a wonderful job, it's just that the game designers forgot to put you into the mix.
With the other options out there to play, save your $15 and spend it on something else.
The Tip and The Top:
Visuals look like a graphic novel
The voice acting of the characters is well done
No issues with lag
The Flip and The Flop:
The game feels disjointed, like you don't really belong in the game
The game falls flat with the design, not allowing for creative solutions
The writing is terrible
Review copy provided by Outrageous