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» Hellfire Review


I don't like Germans. Two generations of my family have shot, Shelled and Depth Charged Germans for a mere 2 and 6 a day. They bombed my hometown during the Blitz. They throw their towels out at 6 in the morning just to reserve a sun bathing spot. They insist on "European Unity". They fly their dirty flag whenever they get half a chance. When I downloaded "Hellfire", I told myself that my general dislike of Germans would have no effect on the way I wrote this review. I was wrong. After playing Red Alert 2 using "Blitzkreigers" and "Chrono-Panzers"; I've had enough.

Hellfire is a German translated mod, yet, With my extensive German vocabulary learned through a mis-spent childhood reading "commando" comics, I believe I could have done better. The sloppy translation is just the first of several niggles that make Hellfire more of a chore than a joy to play. The fact that many super weapons are listed as "MISSING:IONBLAST" and so on makes this theme consistent throughout the mod - And is generally, very disappointing.

One extremely positive aspect of "Hellfire" however, are the new buildings. These beauties could have come from the shielded arms of Westwood themselves, and stand out as outstanding in what is otherwise, a very mediocre mod. The buildings almost completely replace the old Red Alert 2 ones, but the quality of the new ones is so good, they almost blend together.

As with so many around these days, this mod is one of many specs of light, blighted out by other crap units, and more often than not, poor balancing. Such is life. And such is "Hellfire". The balancing in this mod is truly appalling. Three sides have been added - The Allies and Soviets reappear, but now have a new adversary: The Martians. Only, they're not really an adversary, more of a walkover.

When you play as the Martians, you must build Oil Derricks to get cash, steep at $2000 each. This gives you a steady flow of cash. But this flow of cash is more like a trickle, so much so that you find yourself building up 7 or 8 derricks just to get enough cash to tech up and build an attacking force. More often than not, by this time you'll have already been wiped out. The lack of a Martian engineer is also infuriating, particularly on larger maps where Tech buildings have added importance. Despite their burrowing infantry and strong assault force, half the time you won't be able to spare the cash of them; instead having to erect defences - and a lot of them - to stem off only weak AI attacks.

Since the game was poorly translated, perhaps the lack of a manual is more of a blessing than I first thought. Despite this, I believe I can formulate part of the storyline. Due to the new side, and the overall "space age" look of the mod, I hypothesise that it's based around a Human invasion of Mars, or maybe a Martian invasion of earth. Being a connoisseur of inter-war Science fiction - I would be tempted to go with bad aliens harming our delicate world.

This new side, which promised so much, fails to present any challenge to the ruling two. And with Hellfire, their rule becomes ever more bloody, and ever more illegal :-o! Ripped units include the top half of the Mammoth Mk.2, which becomes the "Robot Scout" a unit which looks like a cross between a BMX and an Ostrich - The perfect scouting unit. Other personal favourites include new and "improved" conscript, which now looks like a skeleton, and shoots blue fireballs, particularly reminiscent of those fired in anger during heated games of "Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition". The depth of units is so great, that I couldn't possibly describe them all here - New aerial units make for a new focus on splitting your forces, with the Orca making a triumphant return. The changes on the Allied and Soviet sides are large, but the game remains relatively balanced between these two. While the new side looks nice, they really are only for show.

A sort of modified Battle Bunker is included, perfect for garrisoning your new infantry in. The "Blitzkreiger" (I think that translates as "Lightning Trooper") can rain down electrical death on your opponents, while the enormous "Defender" packs two hands with a prism tower each, the classy way to destroy a tank rush. Again, these units provide a sparkle to a poorly designed and laid out mod.

Hellfire's problems are quite resolvable; sort out the unit balancing issues, get a decent translator in and get in some beta testers! This mod promised so much, the buildings have echoes of something great - Yet sloppy production and no testing made it fall on the last triple axel, and score a disappointing 4..3, instead of a table topping 6.0. A very topical end to what "Could have been a contender".

Overall - 72%

Jim

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