Open Fire Gold
Release Date:March 3, 2010
Summary:Rain missiles down on an onslaught of tanks in a desert wasteland, trying your hardest to survive more than a few moments. Oh, and throw in a few mines for good measure.
Open Fire Gold by BlueGill Studios starts out promising. So much, that I was on-the-edge-of-my-seat ready, brow furrowed in concentration, doing the preemptive wiping of my palms on my jeans, just in case they started sweating. The music is right on the mark, grinding with a pop rock edge, appropriate for any military movie – I secretly was thinking “thank god they didn’t use Flight of the Valkries or All Along the Watchtower for the umpteenth time…” – though I admit most military games have some unknown, vague rock music to rhythmically complement all the jarring explosions and machine gun firing. The intro scene, too, is effective, being sparsely decorated with just a few tabs, a drab beige aesthetic fitting for a game that takes place in a the vast, lone desert plains. Just how people look into book art, I judge my intro pages seriously. Really, though, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a military game – that is, unless you’re a stickler for details, like, say, a certain older brother of mine.
It was only until I started the game that I started to feel a bit calculating about my prematurely positive assessment of the game. Not that it’s a bad game, no, not at all – it certainly is fun to play and the graphics are surprisingly good. It’s just… how do I put this? Boring. It almost seems oxymoronic, doesn’t it? A phenomenon of some kind, to have a war game that manages to be boring, despite having action, or at least, what the game considers to be action. And yet, at the same time, the game isn’t boring at all – it’s just formulaic, a tragedy that befalls many an app in the iTunes Store. After a good 10 minutes of playing Open Fire Gold I vividly recalled a time when I was reading a book on Bedouins for a Senior Seminar. When asked what I thought about the book, I, without hesitation, said it was, “as dry and dusty as the desert, itself.”
The game is straightforward, almost too straightforward to play. There is only one scene, a desert, but I must digress: at least it’s a good one. The textures and colors are all good, and the setting, itself, is hardly boring to behold with hilly dunes in the background and a few, scattered palm trees that bring some vividness to an otherwise dead scene. The enemy tanks, when they appear, are well-illustrated, and animated well, particularly when they explode under your directed missile attacks. I have to ponder, though: whose tanks are these? Funnily enough, they most resemble the M3 Stuart tank (oh yea, the one used by Tank Girl), with their disproportionately small upper turrets, but that’s an obsolete U.S. military creation. Unless forces somewhere in the Middle East adopted the use of this weaponry, who are we fighting in this game? Better question, who are we? I suppose both of these question are irrelevant so long as we’re enjoying blowing up tanks with our missiles and mines, but I can’t help but wonder what the developers had in mind.
As for playing, the only objective is to destroy the onslaught of fairly slow-moving tanks with your missiles, shot with a finger tap from a seemingly unknown location on screen. The fact that the missiles seem to fire from a random location, in relation to where you tap onscreen, can make it a little difficult to aim. The missiles seem to destroy the smaller tanks with only one shot, but the larger tanks, the ones that resemble more an M1 Abrams Tank (yet another U.S. military machine), take two more shots. They do, however, blow up readily from a mine explosion, so make sure you tap with two fingers to place mines about onscreen – they come in handy when brigades of 5 or more tanks show up. Blue and red squares fall from the screen as bonuses, which, when fired upon, give you the ability to shoot faster, and the upgrade to shoot three missiles at once, respectively. If you blow up enough tanks in a short period of time – as indicated by the cursor bar on the upper right of the screen – a robotic turret comes around to help you out in the war zone.
The options are all good, and I like the two upgrades, but after shooting at an endless stream of tanks, trying to prevent any from escaping off the left side of the screen, you can’t help but wonder: is this really it? Not even bigger, badder enemies? No more upgrades? No way to improve your health? There’s just a little bit missing from what could potentially be a riveting game.
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