Friday, September 14, 2012

FireJumpers [Redblox Games] - $1.99

I haven’t really gotten into fireman/firefighting games in the past. Sprinkle, Ah! Save Me, Chickens BBQ, Against The Fire, Jumping Frenzy, Air Fire Rescue, ect., they’ve never really grabbed me, which I guess could be considered strange since my uncle and cousin are both firefighters, and I have intense respect and admiration for both firefighters and fire. Recently, all of that changed when I grabbed Serious Games’ Emergency, even though there was still that extra something missing from it all. Redblox Games’ first iOS release, FireJumpers seemed to knock it out of the park. 

Like so many other iOS releases, FireJumpers is a port. Originally released as a Flash game, FireJumpers made its way over to the AppStore and GooglePlay a couple weeks ago. Now, after having spent a decent amount of time with it, it’s easily the best firefighting game I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and is the first firefighting game that‘s actually grabbed me, though, FireJumpers is set up like a Real-Time Strategy game and that’s probably a huge reason why I’ve been enjoying it so much. 
FireJumpers starts out with a 5 level Tutorial section that can take some time to complete. Thankfully, there’s a 2X button, making everything go along a little quicker, though it would be nice if there was also an option for 4X speed. The main goal in FireJumpers is, of course, to contain a fire. However, how it’s done is pretty unique, and can require quite a bit of thought once you get through the tutorial and into the main game. 

You’re given 4 different units in order to contain the fire; a helicopter that can both carry units, and civilians, to other parts of the map as well as pick up and drop large buckets of water, a cut team that builds firebreaks, either stopping the fire from progressing, or making it jump over the break, hose teams that can spray water around a relatively large area and lastly, water bombers, which require a cool-down in order to use, but can drop a lot of water across the whole front end of the fire. Not all of these units are available in every stage, and when they are, you’ve only given a certain number of units, so figuring out the best way to use them, and where to place them is essential in containing the fire before it burns up the whole map. 

Right now, FireJumpers contains 15 levels, not including the 5 training levels. There is a second world with a coming soon mark, so hopefully we’ll be able to see more in future updates. Now, 15 levels might not seem like much, but with each stage having a possible 3 star ranking and taking up to around 20 minutes to complete, 15 levels should keep players busy for a while. There’s also the randomness of the fires. Each time you start a level, the fire will start in the same place, but how the fire reacts to everything, and how it moves will always be random, giving the game a bit more replay value. 

Controls are done with line drawing. To move a unit, just tap on it, and draw a line to where you want it to go. Each area that the unit interacts with will zoom in so that you can place units precisely where you want to. However, this doesn’t always work as it should, especially on the smaller iPod/iPhone screens. Having a magnifying glass above where your touching, zooming in under your finger would be a great addition instead of the large pixilated box that only appears in certain areas, but also some sensitivity options for dragging speed would be great, and help to get rid of the jitteriness that you’ll sometimes encounter. 
For a helicopter to pick up units, you just need to draw a line from the helicopter to the unit, and it will pick them up automatically. Dropping them off is done the same way, drawing a line from the helicopter to the area you want the unit to start off will take them there, and drop them off automatically. Once you do that, you can set your helicopter’s water pick up area, and then direct it towards where you want it to start dropping water. It will then automatically return to the water to refill the bucket. 

The game does move kind of slow at first, but once you get into the mid and later levels, you’ll probably start taking the 2X speed option off so that you can control each unit in real time, making sure you save all of the civilians, and contain the fire as quickly as possible. Right now, there is no background music, which kind of does take away from the immersion of the game. There’s also no GameCenter support, taking away from the drive to replay levels for a better score, as well as having no achievements. 
Even with the couple of issues with controls, lack of music and GameCenter integration, FireJumpers is still, easily, my favorite fire related game. On any platform. The RTS type gameplay and mesh of units needing to work together in order to contain fires, as well as the randomness of each fire, just makes FireJumpers feel right. Where as every other fire related game I’ve played just felt cheesy, and too unrealistic. Priced at $1.99, it’s a great game to pick up, and hopefully we’ll be able to see World 2 in an update, as well as GameCenter, and maybe even an HD or Universal build. Also, 1% of all sales will go towards the Canadian charity, Firefighters1st, that supports volunteer firefighters with equipment, training and education. Though it’s not much, every little bit helps. 


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