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Line of Fire review
Calm Before Brutality


Only Europe got this above-average shoot em up... seems kind of fair...
Line Of Fire is a shoot em up game for the Sega Master System. This was kind of bit shit when you think about it, because the Master System wasn’t brimming with (usually Konami supported) shoot em ups unlike the NES. The best you could do was Fantasy Zone and the Master System port of R-Type... and even after the release of this game, they are still the best you can do. Line Of Fire isn’t necessarily a bad game; it just suffers from a decent number of problems preventing it from being as good as the better shoot em ups.

Guerrilla Warfare for your Sega Master System!
The story is that Jack is infiltrating a base, and when he gets what he wants, alarms sound off, and now he has to haul ass to safety before he gets killed in action. What it ends up becoming is a killing spree, hoping to kill everything that comes by so that he can escape without any problems and hopefully, the other army wins the war. A few questions I often ask myself when playing this are often “what are the armies” “did we infiltrate a Nazi/Commie base or are we the Nazis/Communists” and “lolwat”. What we have sets up the scene well enough, but I just can’t help but wonder...

It’s funny, the way vehicular manslaughter works.
This is a shoot em up, but instead of a spaceship, you’re controlling a jeep and then a helicopter (I’ll elaborate on how vertigo inducing that’ll get later). Basically, all you’re doing is shooting down enemy solders and vehicles with machine guns or missiles. Seems simple; actually, it’s damn simple.

One thing Line Of Fire adds is altitude. By altitude, I mean where attacks will hit. Obviously, your jeep can’t jump without going off a ramp, and your helicopter, for some strange reason, can’t descend downwards, so one attack hits one height, and vice-versa. In this case, the jeep has machine guns for ground combat, and missiles (which are limited in number, but you can collect them as you go) for aerial assaults, and the other way around for the helicopter.

Now, why is it that it has to change? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the helicopter to fire its machine guns downwards, and fire the missiles at its own altitude? I think it would, but Sega seems to disagree, which means it’ll take a while to adjust to the sudden change in altitudes...

Damn, what a trap!
The problem with the sudden switch is that once you hop aboard that helicopter, the game’s difficulty increases twentyfold. While in the jeep, it’s relatively easy, provided you’re competent at gaming. That’s because you have a health bar, so its only if you get shot a decent amount of times that you lose one of three lives, and you get a few continues as well, making it seem generous. However, it’ll still seem small at the last couple of levels when you take control of the helicopter. It goes from occasional groups of enemies to swarms every couple of seconds, which will get on your nerves in seconds. It still doesn’t reach the difficulty level of the hardhats on the NES, but can provide a challenge and can even frustrate the hell out of you.

Ooh, intimidating...
As per usual, the fate of your progress in a level or even the game lies on how well you do against the boss. Much like with the levels, the bosses are easier than catching a cold during winter during the jeep missions, but when it comes to the helicopter missions, they’re as hard as a fully erect *bleep*. Of course, it’s standard affair; find the weak point and shoot heaps, but make sure to get the correct altitude – is it high or low?

The boss battles aren’t really that great though. The battles against the earlier ones are over well before they’ve begun, not really giving you time to enjoy the battle. The later ones aren’t that fun either, and that’s because they’re a huge pain in the rear admiral! Let’s not kid ourselves here; the bosses aren’t that great.

Nice variation to say the least.
One thing you can easily praise is the attention to detail Sega paid in the graphics. There’s a fair amount of colors and environmental variety shown. Most Master System games are brimming with color, though to suit the style of this game, they’re kind of dull. Granted that there’s a number of colors on screen, they’re not flashing out at you or anything. They remind you a bit more a war, actually, and that’s always a good thing. As well as the locations themselves (enemy bases, jungles, rivers), there’s not much to really say about the graphics without getting into a lengthy argument about how that’s all the Master System could really do.

I can’t say I was impressed with that album.
However, I can’t say I liked the soundtrack for this game too much. The songs sounded good initially, but they were forgettable and mediocre after further listening. However, I loved the boss track. It wasn’t intense, which isn’t too flash for a boss track. Nevertheless, it was a catchy tune and it sounded pretty damn good too.

A war worth supporting your troops for?
This is a bit of a tricky game to recommend. Veterans will scoff off at the beginning for its lack of difficulty, yet beginners will be scared off by the later half’s harsh difficulty. It really depends on your perspective; are you able to handle sudden changes in difficulty and controls? In all actuality, if you’re into shoot em ups, you shouldn’t have much reason to pass this up. If not, then I advise something else. This won’t change your mind anytime soon.

Along the tracks:
Story: 8/10
Sets up the scene well enough, though not really explained too well. Then again, this is a shoot em up.
Gameplay: 6.5/10
It keeps the usual elements and adds in two different altitudes, though it’s not exactly a fun shoot em up, and the sudden change in difficulty and controls don’t really help much either.
Controls: 7/10
Commands respond well and are mapped at logical locations. Sadly, you’re not given any huge indication of inverse altitudes for the attacks when you switch vehicles and difficulty modes.
Graphics: 9/10
The variety of colors and environments sold me. Execution was just off the charts with goodness.
Sound: 6/10
Soundtrack is nice when you play it, but other than the boss tune, there’s nothing really memorable in there, and the boss tune is a bit of a stretch too. Sound effects are usual 8-bit explosions, shots and whatnot.

Overall: 7.3/10

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