Based on a box office dud, Reign of Fire is a tale that is part sci-fi,
part fantasy and part survival flick where humans are overrun by
dragons, albeit, in the future. Or more specifically: our future.
Hence, not only do we have dragons and primitive humans, but also modern
machinations of war thrown into the mix. This melting pot did nothing
to entice viewers to the silver screen, and Crawfish's game smartly moves
the emphasis from primitive humans to machine guns and dragon breath.
There are two principle campaigns in Reign of Fire. One revolves around
the human resistance fighters. The other revolves around the dragons.
Despite differences in anatomy, both play fairly similarly. Crawfish is
known for its sophisticated birds-eye view isometric titles like Rainbow
Six. This is a simplified version of that, much like how The Sum of All
Fears was merely a dumber version of Ghost Recon on the PC. Unlike
Crawfish's tactical strategy games, the resistance fighters here merely
slog around with their leader (you) and shoot when you shoot, as well as
flee when you flee. That's the basic gist of the game. In spite of the
simple premise, it can be quite fun, especially for the humans because
they get access to numerous firepower enhanced vehicles that help them
in the fight against the dragons.
Taking place in an apocalyptic landscape, many of the missions involve
scavenging parts to acquire such vehicles. This is, unfortunately,
where the game falters. You'd think after you start taking control of
tanks and aircraft that there would be a final showdown with the mother
dragon. That battle, however much anticipated, never appears and the
ending is fairly anticlimactic. The dragons fare no better; they merely
accumulate upgrades to their initial fire attack.
You can only do so many FedEx objectives with or without time limits
until it ultimately gets repetitive. There's no punch to the missions
at all. With a premise that works around humans mounting a last ditch
effort to defend themselves against dragons, surely, you would think,
something more exciting could be created. A last stand Alamo or General
Custard scenario would go a long ways in creating such tension.
However, for most of the game, you'll find yourself trying to hit
enemies with your projectiles while remaining out of range when the
enemy shoots theirs. That type of mechanical back and forth is all
that's left of the tactically sound engine Crawfish brought to Reign of
Fire. And it's unfortunate. They either did not have the freedom to
break out of the film license into new ground or they relied on the
license too heavily. A game revolving around an expert group of dragon
hunters or a dragon esprit de corps would have proved more exciting.
The graphics for Reign of Fire, for the most part, stand up to the
standards laid down by Crawfish in other titles. Backgrounds are
detailed with different color hues. Units and vehicles maintain
distinctive identities. The only real complaint is the fire, which,
despite the abundance of it, looks cartoonish. There are several
backdrops from a desecrated London to the countryside to spice up the
visuals. While the audio does its part as well, there's no denying
they're just cheerleaders or backup singers to a team or band that isn't
that good in and of itself.
Bam! Entertainment probably started this project before the movie. As
Sony's corporate heads have said, movies can be a lucrative business but
they are never reliable for solid revenue and profits because from time
to time, your movies will bomb. Some will bomb for no reason at all.
Judging by the cross-proliferated marketing campaign between movie and
games, Bam! Entertainment and Crawfish have found themselves making a
game for a very unpopular movie. If the cinematic folks had held up
their end of the bargain, this could, at the very least, serve as a
novelty collector's item, much like X-Men games do for X-Men fans or
Spider-man games do for Spider-man fans. Truth be told, though, there
aren't many Reign of Fire fans out there.
Without multiplayer, there's not much content to go through in this game
and on its own in single player, it's not overly compelling content
either. That makes it hard to recommend since it's based on a movie
that's not so great to begin with.