Teyon’s Heavy Fire series has taken a few knocks over the years and yet new titles keep coming. The simple reason for this is that – despite rallying up against competition that offers far more freedom and visual fidelity – there is still an audience that enjoys them. The latest instalment, Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D, may not be everyone’s vision of how to deliver an arcade action videogame on Nintendo 3DS, but it’s sure to prove successful regardless.
Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D plays incredibly similar to its predecessor, Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D. The inconsequential storyline that garnishes the hefty dose of violence is of course brand new and the experience as a whole feels noticeably slicker, but for all intents and purposes Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D is a revamp of Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D. The action plays the same, the upgrade system plays the same and even the menus are presented in the same fashion.
The control system is immediate and designed for both left- and right-handed players. With the touchscreen and stylus used for aiming either trigger can be pressed to take the shot. The D-Pad or the B button reloads your weapon and, unlike the home console editions of the franchise, taking cover is automated. Your only task in Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D is to aim and shoot; but you best be quick about it if you wish to make it through unscathed.
Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D is a challenging videogame to say the least. Enemies are very accurate and can be quick on the draw. Players are given the option to replay earlier missions once completed and often will need to, as the cash earned there can be used to buy upgrades and make subsequent levels a little easier. At many points during Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D’s campaign you’re likely to find yourself returning to earlier missions for just this reason.
The videogame takes you through some exciting set-pieces – river chases, collapsing bridges, maddened helicopter pilots prepared to shoot their own men to get to you – but much of the adrenaline is lost to poor visual design. Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D looks slightly better than Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D, but not by way of special effects. Explosions are lifeless and a falling tree means nothing without measurable impact. The animation is improved but still sees troops stop and turn on axis; there’s no doubt that this could easily have been accomplished on the original Nintendo DS hardware.
Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D is a new edition of the Heavy Fire series that refuses to break the mould, simply touching up a few weaker areas and calling it a day. Owners of Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D who haven’t yet seen everything it has to offer need not take a second glance at Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D as it is essentially the same experience, but if you’re looking to take your first step into arcade shooting on Nintendo 3DS you could do worse. The likelihood is that Heavy Fire: Black Arms 3D will continue the success of the series as its core audience will readily lap it up, but it’s unlikely to earn any new fans with this latest addition.