Suit voice: “Weakness detected in arms.” Chaos Dreadnought(echoing): “NOOOOO!” [it doesn’t stop] The “Warhammer 40,000” franchise has been around over 30 years, and the games have never been far behind.
With games like “Space Crusade” and “Chaos Gate”, they were doing well. The trend of making bank and good reviews on their strategy games kept going until fairy recently. That’s when things got a little different. So the brand had done well with tactical and strategy games. However, despite being a perfect setting for it, they never made an FPS game. Unless you count “Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels”, and I don’t.
That’s still more of a tactical game. It wouldn’t be until 2003 that a true ’40k first-person shooter was made. It would also be the only ’40k FPS game for roughly the next 15 years. This was “Fire Warrior”.
And right from the get-go, there’s a lot strange about this. Playstation 2′ outlets were very positive on the game. Uncomfortably so. It was to the point that I thought it was only on PS2, but no. It got a release on PC as well.
See? It’s right there. The only reason I found out is because a guy e-mailed me about it.
After a quick search, it turns out that PC version’s reviews were abysmal compared to the PS2. As far as I know, this isn’t sold digitaly either. On top of all of that, getting the game to start on a modern system is a challenge, and if you do… here’s your in-game options: Audio levels… that’s it.
So first of all, I’m gonna show you how to make this game playable at all. That’s still a decision you might regret, but… I can’t stop you. First of all, the game has a launcher. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been seen by modern humans beings. This is because it appears to have issues with DirectX versions past 8, which, in computers years, is basically going back to the fall of Rome.
You could go back to that… Or you could be a genius and just launch the .exe from the CD or your image. You do not even need compatibility mode so… easy, right? Well, almost. Remember, the game has no in-game settings menu. It typically runs at a lower resolution and I can’t show you it.
Whenever I try to put a clip of it in, it crashes the video editor, so this is the fixed version. Now, I haven’t seen the launcher, but I’ve heard some nasty rumours about it. The good ones at least say that you could’ve changed your settings in it, so, that means that it must make a config file.
After digging around, I found out how to make one in Notepad. These values are self-explanatory for the most part. Then I just save it next to the .exe and it’s good to go… At least, that’s that I thought. [In-game voice over with distorted audio] “The standard carbine of the Tau fires plasma pulse burst ammunition identical to that of the standard rifle.”
I can’t deal with this crackling. Maybe you were around back in the day, when the sound cards were really being pushed, and this is kind of a part of that. At first, I thought I could force it to use EAX, but that didn’t help.
“Fire Warrior” uses some kind of software effects, but maybe they didn’t install right. Either way, I’ve got to get rid of them. So now the game has lost all of the echo effects, but the audio is crisp and clear. [the hologram’s voice disperses throughout the room, but is accompanied by constant crackling] [the hologram’s voice is directed right at the player, but there is no crackling] Much better. So, “Fire Warrior” is running. That’s a good start.
I loaded the tutorial, which is surprisingly somber. It’s nearly dead silent. Okay, let’s hit the range. Oh my God, this weapon spread… The aiming also feels a bit like being in a bubble of jelly.
This is especially weird because these are Tau weapons, which means I need to talk about the “Warhammer” lore a bit. If you played with toys and action figures, you may have known about, or played with, “that kid.” You never wanted to play with That Kid. Nobody did.
That Kid always had to be the best, and he’d make up rules to do so. Regular kid: “My Iron Man is coming to fight you!” That Kid: “Nuh-uh, because my John Cena has an Iron Man-force field…” This child grew up to work at Games Workshop.
An entire school bus of These Kids did, and they made their own factions for the setting. These Kids were kept in check by an entity that I’m gonna call the “Supreme Kid”. The Supreme Kid will somewhat balance the other factions, but make sure that his favoritest is the most important. He will smite down or devour the creations of lesser kids who challenge him.
In the end, only he will remain. That should sum up why this setting is so ridiculous. I figure that most people watching this know, at bare minimum, that 40k is Grimdark and Sci-Fi. Or maybe “space fantasy” would be a better description. If you know nothing about the setting, just picture this: Hulk Hogan is in a cathedral, and he’s fighting the Devil.
Hogan is wearing about 50 trucks worth of metal. Also, the cathedral is the size of Rhode Island. And in space.
Hulk Hogan is the Imperium of Man. They’re the humans in this setting, and probably the most popular faction for that reason. At this time, the setting didn’t really have good guys, just lesser shades of evil. The Imperium is a bunch of fascist fanatics, but, if you are human, they’re your best chance for being alive for a while. When the Tau released in 2001, they were the “good” faction.
Non-tau Players tended to dislike them for this, among other reasons. Their main trait was having very accurate long-range weapons, and you know what? These are NOT those weapons. I don’t know how to describe it other than “The gun is drunk”. I had to go back to the config and enable the auto-aim that I turned off. Auto-aim being on is the default setting.
The cone of fire narrows a bit and the weapon tracks your target, and it’s still pretty atrocious. This is the moment, when I started to realize what I was in for, but… I wasn’t really ready.
This is one of those games you can’t play on “Hard” until you beat it on “Normal”, so that’s what I’m stuck with. Let’s check it out. “Fire Warrior” starts off with a cutscene of… something happening. I’m not really sure what, but before you can find out, the Space Marines blow it apart. “SPESS MEHRENS!” They kidnap… somebody, and the game begins.
[Tau soldier says something, but it’s too quiet to understand anything] I can’t hear a word he is saying. It’s like the voice actor is actually calling from China. Tau soldier: “Ammo – check!
Shield – check!” Tau soldier: “Ammo – check! Shield – check!”
There is no way to change this. [Another Tau soldier speaking so quiet you can’t hear anything] Is that him talking? [Tau voice volume suddenly rises up] Wow! What- Ah- Tau soldier: “You’re on green light.” Mandalore: [groaning] As far as the games made after 2000 go, I think “Fire Warrior” might have one of the strangest soundscapes of all.
I’ve played games that used stock sounds, but never just a phone dial. [Buttons sounding like a phone dial] The thing is, at least the phone dial’s sound is clear. A lot of the levels just have these alarms blaring half the time. [Alarm sound] [Another alarm sound] Mandalore: [Annoyedly groans] [More alarm sounds] [Even more alarm sounds] Please, just stop them. When the game gets quiet, that’s when you realize why it was so loud.
To hide all the sounds. [reload sounds like someone’s opening a Snickers bar, followed by beeps and boops] Someone dead: “Failing!” What did he say? To give you an idea of how bad the weapons sounds are, one of the most powerful sounding weapons in the game uses a stock machine gun sound. [Stub Rifle sounding like a generic machine gun] Of course, like almost every other weapon in the game, the spread on it is horrible.
At several points, I couldn’t tell what was happening because the sounds were looping over each other. [Imperial Tech Priest saying two lines simultaneously] “My shield is malfunctioning!” “My shields.. Failing!” “Failing”?
Does this sound like being in a vent or opening a bag of chips? [crunching] I understand working on a budget, but when you’re taking field recordings of people opening snacks in a movie theater…er… It’s not working out. [*crunch*] [*crunch*] Okay, the sounds are abysmal. I can accept that. But why does every Imperial Guardsman say that “it’s quiet”?
Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.” [Shooting and chainsaw sounds] [Shooting and chainsaw sounds] Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.” [Shooting and chainsaw sounds] [Shooting sounds] Imperial Guardsman: “Taking up positions!” Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.” Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.”
[a bomb drops] “It’s quiet.” (X2) “It’s quiet.” (X3) I’m going to lose my goddamn mind. [another bomb drops] “It’s quiet.”
(X4) Imperial Guardsman: “DESTROY THE ALIEN! G’A-AH!” “IT’S QUIET.” [IT’S QUIET OVERLOAD] Imperial Guardsman: “No activity.” Imperial Guardsman: “No activity.”
Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.” Imperial Guardsman: “It’s quiet.” “I T ‘ S Q U I E T.” The Grinch: “Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!”
I’m only 15 minutes into the game and… I..[signs] I can’t remember what’s happening. Wait, I beat it? 14 minutes?!
That felt like 14 weeks! To summarize it up, I’m… I’m just not very happy with the sound. Let’s move on.
The game is about as standard as it gets for first-person shooters. You go through multiple linear levels, find new weapons and kill enemies. What I find interesting is that it’s a kind of… transitional shooter. Easy example: If you want to open the magenta door, you need to find a magenta key. Colored keys are a staple of 90s’ FPS games because, well, they make sense. You don’t need a special narrative to understand what’s happening.
You see the blue door, you need the blue key. Easy. This practice largely went extinct in the early 2000s. With a big push for story in games, obstacles would have to be narrative-related. Having a color-coded door and key was now seen as being too arcadey. Having “the red door” was now just seen as lazy.
Ok, so “Fire Warrior” is more of a 90s game. After all, the levels have a stats counter. From time to time, you’ll complete an additional task, and I’m not sure what they are, because the game never really tells you. That checks out! There are also plenty of healthpacks… But wait a minute… Something is still happening to my health.
[“Halo” shield sounds] Man, it’s- it’s just on the tip of my tongue! I can’t remember what it is- Okay, so I’ve had to think about a little bit, and it’s a WAY worse “Halo”. I know all the advertisments said that it would “kill Halo”, but it’s just a worse version of that game. You have to wonder, how you can take a formula that was proven to work on a console, like “Halo”, and mess it up somehow.
Then I looked at the games they were making before and during this, and they were train simulators and Eyetoy games, and It’s like “Oh, this makes sense now!” Tau soldier: “Gaaagh!” To give the game some credit, it has a variety of ’40K weapons. There are a lot of standard weapons you’d expect, like a sniper rifle, a pistol and a shotgun, but there are some weapons that are a little more unique. Chargeable plasma guns, a plasma pistol, a melta gun – the list goes on. There’s about a dozen weapons to choose from.
My favorite ended up being the Bolter, because, well, they got it right. [mighty ‘splosions] You also carry a sword, but it might as well be a spoon. It’s useless.
[*swoosh-swoosh-swoosh-swoosh-swoosh-swoosh*] “U-ugh!” “AAAAHH!~” It has close to no reach and it barely does any damage. I can’t even imagine how bad this is on Hard.
I have three main issues with the weapons. The first is that several of them are redundant. The Stub Rifle is a good medium-range weapon with a muzzle flash that looks like a solar flare. But the Lasgun does basically the same thing.
The Bolter is fun to use. But then there’s the Chaos Bolter, which fires a little bit faster and maybe does less damage. I can’t tell because, you know, it’s a Bolter. If you don’t know the lore: it fires 75 caliber rocket-propelled explosive bricks that were blessed in a church. The Chaos Bolter does the same thing except… I dunno, the rounds are blessed at a Marilyn Manson’s concert.
My second issue is that you can only hold two guns. Except in rare occassions, you’ll only gonna find ammo for your weapons on dead enemies. So putting down a rifle in exchange for a pistol with only 6 shots doesn’t make any sense. Doing that discourages the player from experimenting, but it gets even worse that that.
One of the weapons you’re holding HAS TO be a Tau weapon. And they’re terrible. So, even if you find two weapons you really like, you have to choose one, because one of them will have to be a Tau weapon. To make matters worse, you don’t get the second weapon, the Carbine, until the midpoint of the game.
That means you’re only getting to choose one weapon for most of the game. But there IS the Tau Cannon. Also, look out for death animations. It’s like they all want to win an Emmy.
“Gya-a-a-e-e-a-ahh!!” So, holding off for that seems good, except this scenario doesnt happen a lot. By this point in the game, you’re gonna be fighting some of the spongiest enemies around.
Having this would have been great in some of the earlier levels when there were swarms of Guardsmen. Here, it’s just wasted. You do get a Rail Rifle on the last levels of the game, and this is when Tau weapons are good. The Rail Rifle can zap a bad man right into the Shadow Realm. [Marv scream muffled by 50 trucks’ worth of metal] Chaos Space Marine: “I feed on pain!”
Yeah, me too. It is not a prize worth waiting for, and I’ll come back to why. While I addressed it earlier, the biggest problem is the spread and aiming system. It doesn’t matter if auto-aim is off or on, these things go all over the place. Even when it’s on, sometimes it won’t lock on right.
It also has a tendency to lock on to… nothing, before going to the right target. You might be thinking: “It’s looks so obnoxious! You should just turn it off!”
And I would, but this is the better option. Even if that result makes the game play like a buggy rail shooter. This is with it on, and the rounds are still going way outside the reticle. Remember, this is the “homing cheat mode”.
If all the enemies were at the mid-range, or if I could always carry a long-range weapon, then I could turn it off. It’s those long-range fights that make it a complete pain, because not everyone’s running up to you with a chainsaw. Wait… What’s wrong with his head?
Well… I’m sure it’s in the Codex somewhere, but… we don’t have time for that. The weapons being buggy does fit the theme of the game, which is “being buggy”. From time to time, enemies will dream of a world of peace. Then they stop fighting. This wasn’t a one-time ordeal.
This would happen multiple times with multiple enemies. The enemies have an even higher tendency of going bonkers if you have allies around. Early in the game there is a boss fight with a Valkyrie aircraft.
Weapons didn’t seem to affect it much. I knew you had to disable the intakes on it, but sometimes I’d get both of them, and it would still stay up there, and I didn’t know how to kill it. Then, a breakthrough came. [Explosion] Tau Commander: “Well done.” It killed itself. I spent longer than I’d like to admit, looking at this clip, trying to figure out what happened.
I can’t recall a boss in a game that just… committed suicide. But now, I think I have it figured out. When the pilot gets angry enough, he says a prayer and writes something down in a manuscript. He then hands it to the Tech Priest who lives behind the launchers for warmth.
This is when the grateful Tech Priest fires the missiles, as you can see here. After carefully studying the schematics, I realized something. You can see out of the cockpit, but not from behind the launchers. So, to put it in short, he fired point-blank into this pipe and blew himself up.
That’s one mystery solved! Next time I’ll tackle the missing doors. All these problems explain the bad PC reviews. If you’ve seen videos that I’ve made before, you know that I usually start with the visuals, and maybe a bit of a story background and then move on to the rest, but… I’ve been assaulted by issues non-stop from the beginning. Let’s be honest: even if the story is incredible, that’s not… exactly… Game of the Year material.
So, this could just be a horrible-horrible port of a PS2 classic. So, after making calls and exchanging some notes, I got someone to help me. So to see if this just the PC version, I have an Internet celebrity 8-Bit Brody to talk about the PS2 version.
Is it as good as they say? 8-Bit Brody: “You know, I’ve been a fan of the “Warhammer” universe for a while now,” 8-Bit Brody: “and I have fond memories of “Fire Warrior”.” 8-Bit Brody: “I never liked it as much, as “Halo”, but I remember it being an enjoyable enough experience.” 8-Bit Brody: “Revisiting this game, however, has proven my memory to be an unreliable source.” 8-Bit Brody: “And I feel like I can no longer trust my former self with any future decisions in my life.”
8-Bit Brody: “Every glitch and sound issue found on the Windows version of this game” 8-Bit Brody: “can also be experienced on Sony’s home console.” 8-Bit Brody: “There was even an additional auditory hiccup during the tutorial.” 8-Bit Brody: “The voice-over present in this section stalls when naming a button prompt.” In-game female voice: “Press the-[pause] STOP button.”
8-Bit Brody: “It is as though it’s pausing to allow for different inputs to be stated for different versions of the game,” 8-Bit brody: “made all the more strange by the absence of this voice over from the PC release.” 8-Bit Brody: “The night vision is somehow worse,” 8-Bit Brody: “and I even discovered how to make my character fly using a ladder, in some sort of Douglas Adamsian fashion,” 8-Bit Brody: “by him seeming to simply forget how to fall.” 8-Bit Brody: “The most directly discernible divergence between the two games, however, are the controls.” 8-Bit Brody: “Let me give you a quick rundown.” 8-Bit Brody: “The joysticks are standard shooter affair,” 8-Bit Brody: “R1 and R2 are primary and alternate fire respectively,” 8-Bit Brody: “circle is reload, pressing square swaps weapons,” 8-Bit Brody: “and X is your “use” command.” 8-Bit Brody: “Triangle though gets a special scenario mapped to him:” 8-Bit Brody: “he lobs grenades.”
8-Bit Brody: “Why wouldn’t they make that one of the L buttons, you ask?” 8-Bit Brody: “Well, let me tell ya: L1 is how you jump and L2 is reserved for crouch.” 8-Bit Brody: “Because, of course, it couldn’t be on L3. That snaps your view into a level position,” 8-Bit Brody: “as was requested by every post-“Halo” console first-person shooter fan.” 8-Bit Brody: “Luckily, they let you change it in the options menu to THIS.” 8-Bit Brody: “So, you know, that’s good.”
8-Bit Brody: “Going back and playing this,” 8-Bit Brody: “it’s very hard to believe that a game was released with controls this poorly optimized” 8-Bit Brody: “two whole years after the first “Halo” hit stores’ shelves.” 8-Bit Brody: “and only one short year before this very console had its own dedicated FPS in “Killzone”.” 8-Bit Brody: “Other games of the same era were able to implement far more ergonomic and sensible control schemes,” 8-Bit Brody: “so I have a hard time excusing the faults of “Fire Warrior” with age.”
8-Bit Brody: “It honestly feels like the developers,” 8-Bit Brody: “not dissimilar to my absent father,” 8-Bit Brody: “stumbling into our basement and discovering my uncle teaching me all the wrong ways to use a garden hose,” 8-Bit Brody: “just didn’t care.” 8-Bit Brody: “If your care, however, feel free to come to my channel and subscribe.” 8-Bit Brody: “You’re also have a Patreon” Mandalore: “Brody…” 8-Bit Brody: “where you can donate money to help feed me.
I’m very poor.” 8-Bit Brody: “where you can donate money to help feed me. I’m very poor.” Mandalore: “Brody, come…” Mandalore: “Alright, we got it.”
Alright, so it’s just as bad on PS2. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. I should talk about something positive. The technical graphics are “average” to “subpar” for the time, and the levels did remind me of “Red Faction” a lot, but if you’re into the “Warhammer” setting, there’s some pretty neat stuff to see.
Despite all the problems it had, the art team really did their homework. There is a level that takes place on an Imperial ship and you can really feel the size of it. Visit the study, the recovery ward, the kitchens, this guy.
It has the most overdramatic Windows Vista handbook and “out of order” sign you’ll ever see. If you wanted an FPS game, where you could walk around the “Warhammer 40k” world, this was your only option for a long time. I gotta give them credit, they did a great job at it! I could see people having fond memories of this game. They might not remember how bad it got, but some of these images alone could stick with you. It’s a downright shame that the level design itself is so bland.
There were so many moments I thought it would get better. During a bunker level, I found a chair that had a Bolter sitting on it. I knew what that meant! It was a cool way of teasing that Toyotus Maximus was around the corner ready to fight me. It was a good use of the environment telling the player about an obstacle coming up. That’s a lot better than I can say for the rest of the game.
They’ll use the same lines over and over again. Tau Commander: “Destroy this.” Tau Commander: “You must obtain the keys.”
Tau Commander: “Find the button.” Tau Commander: “This is the place.” Tau Commander: “You must destroy this.” For everything it does right, hit does 5 things wrong. It reeks of something that was either on a tight budget, a short time frame, or both.
There’s lots of clues that QA and testing was minimal. There are bizarre inclusions that just feel unfinished, like an Ultramarines stealth section. It lasts maybe 30 seconds.
Space Marine: “What was that noise?” Space Marine: “No activity.” I did it! [Cameras’ loud buzzing noise] [Cameras’ loud buzzing noise] Solid Snake: “A surveillance camera?” Nowhere is this clearer, and more frustrating, than in the final levels of the game. Honestly, up to this point there are very few story beats to speak of.
You fight the Imperium and you save the hostage. Like a different FPS game, they start teasing another threat. Remember how I mentioned that Space Marines, the human faction, are very popular in 40k? Well, the story gets going, but it’s centered all around them. Admiral: “A greater treat.”
Space Marine Captain: “A cancer, admiral.” Space Marine Captain: “A tumor to be removed.” Space Marine Captain: “Ah, here comes the Tau representative.” You’ve come onto their ship, and you’ve killed a Mormon Tabernacle choir’s worth of Guardsmen and Ultramarines.
They capture you in the middle of your slaughter. And then they let you go. Space Marine: “Head that way, Tau.
The captain is waiting.” The evil forces of Chaos show up and do their thing. The Ultramarines then arm you, and the rest of the game is spent helping them to defeat Chaos. Talk about a 180 in motivation! Chaos have the beefiest enemies in the game. They also carry the most deadly weapons.
Alright! That’s reasonable. They are the endgame enemies. So what could they do to make this unbearable? Well, they can spawn right next to you with rocket launchers.
These guys can pop up at any time. Chaos Sorcerers can show up without warning, and they can teleport more. Chaos is here and their favorite activity is teleporting behind you. Once you know where they spawn from it gets manageable, but I’m not sure this is even “trial and error”. The checkpoints also become further apart. So you might have to go through long stretches of button pressing and ladder climbing all over again because you got dropped by a rocket launcher.
[Chaos Raptor’s wild birdy-like noise] I always thought Chaos Raptors are called Raptors because they could fly and had kind of predatory bird shaped armor. Well, the sound guys have a different interpretation. By that I mean they run at you making… bird noises.
[More Chaos Raptors’ wild bird noises] I’ll be honest: I’m at such a breaking point right now. “AAAAH!~” Imperial Guardsmen: “It’s quiet.” Oh, please God, no, not again! Imperial Guardsmen: “It’s quiet.” [Sudden Chaos field noise] What?
Okay, I’m just gonna say that this goes on for… a while. And longer than it needs to, because of… well, you know. So, after walking through Tim Burton’s Candyland, we get a boss. Admiral: “…the seed of Chaos in me.” Admiral: “Severus is trying to transfigure himself, by binding with a demon.”
Admiral: “He’s trying to become immortal!” Ok, this goes on a for while, but it dies. Finally, you get to face the real final boss. What he’s saying isn’t important because I can’t hear it, ‘cuz it sounds like he’s in a Speak & Spell.
[BASS DROP] [AAAA!-] This also goes on for a while. Sometimes my missiles go through him. Oh! It’s-it’s over.
The Tau and the Space Marines are all friends and the game is over. It’s actually a fairly short game, but that final stretch really pads itself out. It’s not the worst game I’ve ever played, but very subpar. If it got a digital re-release with a sound overhaul, some bug fixes and a four weapon limit, I’d probably say it’s worth checking out if you like the setting.
As it is, you’re having to jump through a lot of hoops for a very mediocre experience. I’m not good at formatting wikis or else I would put this there, so I’ll link my config file in the pinned comment until someone puts it up on there. Ultimately, “Fire Warrior” is a curiosity. It is an interesting example of two completely different design philosophies clashing together. At the same time, it is an excellent example of an outlet hyping up an exclusive purely because it’s exclusive . That’s it for me.
Tune in for the racing game video… kind of racing. Billy Herrington: “Disobedience, huh? That’s a mistake.”