Heavy Fire: Afghanistan
Gameplay 4
Graphics 5
Sound 4

Heavy Fire: Afghanistan is a low budget on-rails shooter that can be fun in short bursts, but end up being repetitive in the long run. The most fun comes from gathering together three friends to join in, but moving cross-hairs around the screen with a mouse or controllers is never going to compare to using actual light-guns. While the game runs decent enough, it is the small things such as poor voice acting, lackluster sound effects, and mediocre visuals that bring it down.

Gameplay: Somewhat entertaining in short bursts, but ultimately very forgettable.

Graphics: Not too bad for a budget title, but has some obvious limitations.

Sound: Poor voice acting, poor sound effects, and the music doesn’t fare much better

Summary 4.3 Below Average
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Heavy Fire: Afghanistan

Developer: Teyon | Publisher: Mastiff | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: On-Rails Shooter | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

At seven years old most kids want to be doctors, policemen, or firemen, but Will, the protagonist of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, had his heart set on becoming a Marine. Eleven years later, Will turned eighteen and wasted no time applying for recruitment. After passing all the exhaustive tests, he passed and got a 4-year contract that he accepted immediately. Will was living his dream and nothing anyone could say to him would ever change his mind.

All of this is conveyed to players at the start of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, which is an on-rails military shooter. The series actually got its start with the Nintendo WiiWare service and Afghanistan is the third release. It is the first title in the series to be released on other consoles as well as PC, but its budget roots remain painfully obvious. The first clue is the writing, which feels like it was badly translated from a language other than English. The game insists on delivering a page of text before each of the twelve missions and these are all littered with grammatical issues. To make it worse, all the text is read by what sounds like a very bored actor just reciting everything verbatim. The result sounds thoroughly unconvincing, but this is a trend that continues with all the voice acting throughout the game.

Since the game is an on-rails shooter all players have to do is wave around their cross-hair and press a button to kill the terrorists who pop up. This might have been mildly entertaining with a light gun, but using a mouse or controller makes for a very hollow experience. The game does try and shake things up by allowing players to hide behind cover and at times there may be up to three options available. However, enemies don’t pose much of a threat and if you are actually in danger of getting shot by one of them it will be indicated by a large exclamation mark above their heads. Players who fail to duck behind cover when this happens will be rewarded with a bullet hole in their screen effect and lose some health. Luckily there are usually plenty of health packs, ammunition, and grenades scattered about the levels that can be picked up by shooting at them.

In addition to shooting at enemies, Will must also reload his weapon, which is best done while behind cover. It is also possible to throw grenades at enemies, but the animation for this is so slow and long-winded that we generally didn’t bother as it just results in getting shot. Care must also be taken not to shoot any of your fellow Marines in the heat of combat as this will result in a loss of points.

To break up the sections where Will is on foot the game also features a couple of vehicle sections. While it might sound exciting to be in the seat of an Apache helicopter or manning the turret of a Humvee, these play exactly the same except that you can’t take cover. Even with only twelve levels, the game can become very repetitive unless played in short bursts.

Some effort has gone into the visuals of Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, but once again it is very obvious that this game was made with a very limited budget. When we were not being blinded by the light bloom it was easy to see some of the low-resolution textures and janky enemy animations. The game does offer some options when it comes to the graphics, including the ability to set the texture and particle quality, shader detail, and enabling extra shadows. The levels are all set in Afghanistan with locations such as villages, caves, scrap yards, mountain passes, and a final showdown at a Soviet base. Completing all twelve levels on the “Rookie” difficulty allows players to try them all again on a higher setting. Unfortunately, one trip through the game, which lasts about three hours will probably be more than enough.

We already mentioned the terrible voice acting in Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, but the rest of the audio doesn’t fare much better. For some reason, the enemy gun sounds, apart from their turrets, are very muted even if they are right in front of your face. Killing enemies or getting shot also lacks any sort of impact thanks to the sedate audio. All the combat chatter also sounds like people reciting a script very poorly and some of the stuff they say almost doesn’t make any sense. The background music makes an attempt at keeping players awake, but there is nothing memorable about any of the tunes.

One interesting feature about the game is that it supports up to four players, but unfortunately this means that at least three of them will have to use a gamepad. Of course, playing with a mouse almost feels like cheating because of the speed with which you can move your targeting cross-hair around the screen. The keyboard is used to select left, center, or right cover as well as for some of the quick-time events in the game. These mostly consist of having to dodge some obstacle by pressing the correct button when prompted. If done right Will will let out a “hoo-ha” and you get extra points. Heavy Fire: Afghanistan also has Steam Leaderboards and after each mission, you are shown some stats such as your accuracy and score. Also included is a very rudimentary skill tree that allows players to unlock an upgrade such as a better gun, larger ammo clips, and more health after the completion of every two levels.

Players who fondly remember the days of on-rail shooters in the arcade might have some fun with Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, but the game has too many issues for us to recommend it. The dirt-cheap price tag might make it enticing, but that’s about all that it has in its favor. There is no shortage of military-themed shooters available on PC, so playing an on-rails version is not that appealing. If you are a fan of the genre or dedicated enough to connect a light gun to your PC then the game might offer some fun, but everyone else can give it a miss.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: Intel® Pentium® 4 CPU 3.00GHz or similar AMD Athlon 64
  • Memory: 1500 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Direct3D 10 capable video card (NVIDIA® Geforce 8800 GT or AMD® Radeon™ HD 3870 or above) with at least 512 MB video memory. Some low-end integrated cards may not work.
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compatible Audio
  • OS: Windows 8
  • Processor: Core 2 Duo or similar AMD Athlon X2
  • Memory: 4000 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Direct3D 11 capable video card (NVIDIA® Geforce GTS 450 or AMD® Radeon™ HD 5670 or above) with at least 512 MB video memory. Low-end integrated and laptop cards are not recommended.
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compatible Audio

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