FIREBURST Review (XBOX Live Arcade)

FIREBURST (Indiepub) is a game out of time: an amazing slice of 90’s racers topped with a hot fudge scoop of XBOX visuals. It’s equal parts Cruisin’ USA, Excite Truck, and Burnout, with a soundtrack that would make the most hardcore 2005 BMX game shit its pants with envy (Emo and punk. Lots of Emo and punk).

Fireburst adheres to the basic racing game principles, but with an extra bit of obnoxious flare. A handful of unique racers (boozy hillbilly, breasty tattooed vixen, Asian schoolgirl, and so on and so forth), crazy cars with ridiculous paint jobs, and insane amusement park style tracks. The core gameplay revolves around Boost, which provides your car with a short bit of acceleration. The more Boost you use, the more your car heats up, so you’ll constantly riding the line between lightspeed and blowing up. Seriously, you’ll blow up a ton. But as you use your Boost, your car emits a Back To The Future style trail of red hot fire, which heats up any opponents.And when anyone runs into you as you use Boost, you’ll blow them the fuck up. Tis awesome.

But there are water obstacles in the game that you can utilize to reduce your heat level, allowing you to Boost to your heart’s content.  Water barrels, puddles, oceans, leaking damns… the list of awesome goes on and on.  The entire game is populated with fun interactive environments to make this entire “BOOST BOOST BOOST!” addiction that much crazier.  Although, I have to admit, a controller or two was tossed across the room during the shipping yard level. Those damn cranes are the most evil contraption I’ve ever seen in a game (besides Tingle… he takes the top spot).

This game features a handful of unique modes, and while vanilla racing is most definitely its bread and butter, I really enjoyed the challenge modes.  “Complete this track without 1) Blowing up 2) Using water 3) Being a pussy”.  Those stipulations add another level of tension to the already hectic pace.  One particular mode is called Destruction, in which (you’ve guessed it), a ton of cars duke it until only one mangled mess reigns supreme.  You’ll rely almost entirely on Boost in this mode to sabotage your competitors, forcing them to run into your shit streak of fire or blow them up when you max out your Boost meter with a massive fire fart.

But there’s one insanely clusterfuck level in Destruction mode with a massive sinkhole (affectionately called the shit pit) which is one of the most memorable in the game. Although, since it’s one of the larger venues, you always feel an urgent need to check your radar for oncoming enemies, but the developers forgot to include one! The constant mayhem of crashing cars maintains a fun, hectic pace, though, so you’ll never find yourself searching too long for a car to blow to smithereens.

The game’s a great buy for 800 Microsoft Points (about 10 bucks), but it does have some downsides.  The online mode is absolutely unpopulated.  I only managed to play one game in a 20 minute span, against one competitor, due to some seriously inactive players.  But that’s not really where the game shines.  It’s a throwback to the racing games of old, and it’s best served offline, with a steaming hot Philly Cheesesteak pizza perfectly balanced on the armrest of your mom’s precious couch, and a 2 Liter of Surge firmly fixed betwixt your knees (yeah… I have a Surge guy… 200 bucks per 20 ounce bitches).

For all of these reasons and more, I feel confident awarding Fireburst a…