Return Fire

"I've got an awful lot to live for."

On a list as large as this, you can't expect every single entry to be ground breaking, or earth shattering, or such a giant leap forward for the technology that everything else is insignificant in comparison. It's just not going to happen. Some games are on the 1001 list just because you should have a go at them.

Return Fire is one of those games.

It's not often a game is centred around vehicles blowing up everything man-made in an attempt to find and capture an enemy flag, but I doubt it's the reason Return Fire makes the list. It's also somewhat of a rarity to hear classical and conveniently out-of-copyright music because it can sound a little cliché and cheesy, but it's present in Return Fire and somehow makes the game worth playing.

Return Fire's inclusion is currently boggling to me, so it's time to fire it up and see what's going on.

Step 1: Spawn Vehicle
Step 2: Find Opposition Base
Step 3: Destroy Opposition Base
Step 4: Find Opposition Flag
Step 5: Capture Opposition Flag
Step 6: Watch snippet of Lou Gehrig's Luckiest Man speech


That right there is the course of events in Return Fire, or the PlayStation port at least - the 3DO original didn't have Lou Gehrig. Pick one of four vehicles, each with their own characteristics and skills and uses and whatnot, then parade around the map looking for your target - the enemies flag - before safely bringing it back to your base.

I would imagine that, in later levels, the enemies bother to attack your base in an attempt to capture your flag as well, but I was so bored by the game that I didn't check into later levels.

I did see some turrets damage my tanks, some men running for cover and some more men unfortunate enough to get squashed in the process, but none of that was enough to get me hooked.

Drive, crash into a rock or a tree, navigate around the rock or tree, sit at the perfect range to avoid enemy fire while hitting them with your own shots, destroy the threats that exist between you and the flag and make sure the route back is clear of further trees to crash into.

You will crash into trees.

There are plenty of levels to play through, each with their own features to crash into and blow up, but if the first few weren't engaging me, how would I know what the later levels have in store?

Final Word

Return Fire looks like a cheap little throwaway game that shouldn't make too many lists of must play games. It sounds like it too, but it's put together well enough to warrant a game or two, where I found that, no, it really is a cheap throwaway game - where's the appeal?

Is this a diamond in the rough? A hidden gem? Is there something I'm missing? The 1001 entry makes a note that the single player experience is 'not worthy of great exploration' and that the fun times are to be found in multiplayer.

Suddenly the game makes a bit more sense. You aren't absolutely dominating the AI, but are going head-to-head against someone with an actual human brain (hopefully). Your advantage is stripped away as you go up against an opponent that is trying just as hard as you are, and will make the kind of decisions that a computer wouldn't think of, and perform the kinds of strategies that you need to take note of, lest they be your undoing.

I haven't yet played Return Fire as a multiplayer, however, so I don't know if the transformation is as great as that. I have my doubts. The gameplay may be there, but the controls, while simple, are a little dated, and the look is a little tacky in places too. It just makes for a weird little game that you'll either enjoy thoroughly or play for five minutes before moving on.

I think I know what I'll be doing, even if I get round to the multiplayer mode, but as ever I encourage you to see what you think in person too. It's a must play game, after all...

Fun Facts

The game makes a brief appearance in In the Army Now, which has a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Return Fire, developed by Silent Software, Inc., first released in 1995.
Version played: PlayStation, 1996, via emulation.