Fire Drill: Some Like It Hot!|
Dunn, April 19, 2000
Finally, the type of game I've been waiting
for! Fire Drill, from Microsoft and Rapture Technologies Inc., is a
high-quality, unique game with impressive graphics and game play. Most
importantly, it has me hooked!
Pocket PC requirements
- Any Pocket PC, minimum 450 KB of storage
- Color or greyscale screen.
The graphics in this game are
top-notch. The cartoon-style graphics show incredible detail, and the game
play is simple and addictive.
Figure 1: The quality of the graphics is
Where to Buy
Part of the free Pocket
PC Fun Pack, and the upcoming Mobile Games Pack (not yet released).
Rapture Makes Heavenly Games
Fire Drill is the first of five new
games from Rapture Technologies Inc., a game design studio contracted by
Microsoft to create a series of office-themed games for the Pocket PC.
Rapture has developed games for Disney and other large companies, so they
bring a great deal of expertise and quality to the table.
I first saw a sample of Rapture's work in
September 1999 and was shocked at the quality of the graphics in the game
demo I saw. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that Microsoft®
Windows® CE was capable of running incredible games, but I hadn't seen
any that really blew me away. A few months later, Rapture brought us Fire
Drill. What a game!
A Manager's Work Is Never Done
In Fire Drill, you're a stalwart
office worker with a simple job: put out fires! Armed with a fire
extinguisher and plenty of moxie, you must guide your character through a
maze of offices and cubicles, many of them ablaze. The character in the
game looks remarkably like Peter from The
Family Guy which added to my amusement with the game.
Game play is simple but fun. You use the
stylus to tap on the fire you want to put out, and your character races to
the blaze and squirts it with the extinguisher. One squirt, and it's out.
The problem is, much like the real office environment, there's never just
one fire to put out. And if you're too slow, the fire will spread by
shooting off little fireballs that slowly roll across the floor, lighting
ablaze anything they touch. There are a few types of fires to put out:
desks with flailing co-workers still in them, plants and garbage cans, and
the rolling fireballs themselves.
Figure 2: The layout of the game.
Each level gets progressively more
difficult as the office environment changes each time --walls and cubicles
are shifted around, making some fires hard to get at. The character has a
finite amount of life energy and extinguisher foam at his disposal. Life
energy is lost when the fire touches you -- too much fire, and our hero
gets turned into ashes. Not good! Extra life packs and fire extinguishers
can be picked up around the office, so grab them while you can.
The fire makes the occasional crackling
sound, and the fire extinguisher makes a little "whooshing"
sound when used -- nice details! When the desk of an office worker isn't
on fire, they go about their business of making phone calls, writing on a
pad of paper, or typing on the computer in front of them. As I said, the
detail that Rapture put into this game is amazing!
Options for the game include one- and
two-player modes (you trade off between games), three-speed settings, a
mute mode, and a pause mode that pauses the game and puts you back at the
previously active window (usually your Games folder).
When set on Normal speed, the game is simply too easy: it wasn't until
level nine that it became even a little challenging. But when set on Fast
speed, the game becomes much more enjoyable and frantic!
Audio support is a little lackluster as
well: the "whooshes" lose their sparkle after a few levels. A
music track would have been nice, some sort of dance/pop sampling to match
the frantic pace of the game, but considering the limited storage and CPU
resources of most Pocket PC's, I can see why they didn't include it.
Perhaps for the next version they'll include a WMA file for audio? That
would balance quality with small file size.
Despite a few minor quibbles with
this game, it really is a great game to play! It represents a new height
of quality for Pocket PC games that I hope other game makers will strive
to reach. The graphics and game play are top notch, and I was hooked in no
time. I sincerely hope we'll see more games of this quality in the near
*The views expressed in the above
article are provided by an independent third party and do not reflect any
official view or endorsement by Microsoft