Imagine my surprise when I popped in my review copy of Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear into my Xbox 360 expecting a fairly standard first person military shooter—and yet I couldn’t control my character’s movements in the space. That’s right: the game from developer Teyon Games and publisher Mastiff is an on-rails shooter. (And it’s a sequel in fact!) So think Time Crisis meets Call of Duty.
Shattered Spear involves a mission to rescue a spy with critical information about a nuclear launch happening in Iran. Each mission kicks off with your character saying what he’s about to do—though you can also read it on screen as well. I’d highly advise you to skip it since the dialogue is quite cheesy and juvenile, especially given the subject matter.
The controls are fairly simple, though they may take a while for you to get used to them—especially since you might have been expecting this game should be played with a light gun. You can enter into cover with the right stick, often with multiple options. But don’t think cover will also protect you as some enemies will still be able to hit you when you’re ducking behind that barrel.
The left stick will control your on-screen reticle for where you want to shoot. If you play a lot of FPS games, it will take a bit for you to get used to using the left stick as opposed to the right for aiming.
To replenish health and grenades, you’ll need to hit certain boxes throughout the levels. If you die, don’t worry—the last checkpoint was probably nearby. You’ll also have the opportunity to control sniping weapons, a tank, missiles from above and more throughout the twelve mission campaign.
Just like the masterpiece that was 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, you earn points for kills, especially when you achieve headshots. And you will kill 1,000 enemies before the end of the game, far eclipsing the body count you’d likely achieve in any Call of Duty game.
You can easily clear all twelve missions in one sitting—I did it in about 90 minutes. After you complete the game, Veteran difficulty unlocks and the game literally starts you right again on the first mission.
You can also play Shattered Spear with three others via couch co-op, though I didn’t get a chance to with my roommate.
Shattered Spear, at times, was honestly laughable. I couldn’t even believe games like this were still made. The dialogue and plotline seemed thrown together. And yet I found the game incredibly addictive and didn’t find myself hating it as I played—something I can’t say for one or two AAA games from last year.
For $20, it’s almost, almost worth buying just for the sheer craziness of it. But there’s a lot of quality XBLA to be had for at that same price that are double the length of this one. If it was $10, I think I’d be recommending it. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of old school rail shooters, you might enjoy this and find it just as addictive as I did.
Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear It’s currently available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.
* Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. *