I Used to be an Adventurer, then I Took A Bullet To the Knee –
The Heavy Fire series has been Teyon’s bread and butter franchise over the last couple years, releasing ports and sequels on PC, Wii, 360, PS3 and now on 3DS. With a simple premise of shoot anything that moves, Black Arms 3D offers a cheap thrill… for about 10 minutes.
Black Arms, like Special Operations before it, is an arcade-like on-rails FPS shooting gallery. For right handed players, the touchscreen is used to aim, the L button shoots, and flicking the circlepad reloads. Gameplay involves nothing more than lining up a shot and pulling the trigger before the enemy does. Once one section is cleared, the camera moves to the next section and lather, rinse, repeat. As reference, it is sort of like Time Crisis only without the cover/reload mechanic.
Black Arms has the right idea but just falls completely short due to a general lack of features. First, taking damage usually involves a cheap hit from a surprise enemy. At times, several enemies will pop out at once, but instead of shooting them in order, the one distant enemy who assumedly poses the smallest threat is the one that will kill you. Once you take five hits, it is back to the beginning too. This is very frustrating given the fact that each stage can be several minutes long; there are no checkpoints or continues. Making matters worse, there is no way to regain lost health. However, these challenges were probably by design to artificially increase the length of gameplay since the experience is only a handful of stages long.
Outside of a very fast reload speed and one hit kills, there really is no strategy involved. In fact, by the time the game is done, the player will have killed an army’s worth of soldiers, single handedly, with a basic pistol. The infinite ammo, one hit kills, and fast reload speeds really overpower the player which makes those cheap hits even more infuriating. Enemies also spawn from nowhere too, sometime from the corner of buildings where there is no way they could have been standing there the whole time.
On a rare occasion, NPCs will accompany you on a mission but they won’t shoot anyone but the player will receive a point penalty for friendly fire. The problem is there is no way to distinguish who is friendly and who is foe. Holding down the trigger and littering the screen with bullets is fun with the occasional machine gun turret portions but the sniper rifle segments are lacking since the scope moves for you and removes any sense of stealth. Again, everything is on rails, the player only controls the aiming cursor on a stationary point of view.
Black Arms is so barebones that the conclusion of each stage just runs right into the next. At least give the player a statistics screen that shows hit percentage or the option to unlock more guns, options, or gameplay styles. The only thing that offers some type of creativity is the ability to take a goofy picture of yourself to use as your save file avatar. The three save slots and three different gun types do not offer the amount of variation that players would expect.
The most misleading aspect of this game is the soundtrack. Have you seen the trailer for this game? It is friggin’ awesome! The hard rock music blends well with the ridiculous action of the gameplay. From this trailer I was under the assumption that these heavy metal tunes made up the soundtrack of the entire game. Unfortunately, this is most definitely not the case. Instead, the player only gets simple grunt and groins from shot enemies.
Even though the character models are pretty cheesy, the game actually looks pretty nice with the 3D effect turned all the way up. The busy environments, specifically the jungle, look surprisingly great on the 3DS hardware especially during camera transition segments especially considering this is a $5 downloadable game.
Heavy Fire Black Arms 3D is like that kid in high school that does the bare minimum to get by but has outstanding growth potential if he would just apply himself a little more. The recipe is there but needs that layer of frosting to make the cake sweet and enjoyable.
Not As Good As: Link’s Crossbow Training
Not As Cool As: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Also Try: Point Blank DS
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com