Have you ever watched one of those over the top action movies where the hero is outnumbered and doesn’t stand a chance, then he/she makes a comical one liner, stands up and shoots every enemy in sight in an entertaining blaze of gunfire? Well, Fast Action Hero puts you in the centre of the movie and it’s a blast!
Fast Action Hero (a genius play on ‘Last Action Hero’, the classic Arnie film of the 90s) is an arcade wave shooter that doesn’t contain zombies and has decent lighting so you can actually see what you’re doing!
The game is currently in Early Access on Steam, which means it’s still being actively developed and improving with each new update. Looking at the discussions on Steam, it seems the developer is making changes and additions based on user feedback which is always good to see.
The game currently has 3 weapon sets to choose from when you start the game. The pistols and the sub machine guns, both of which are duel wielded, and the rifle which can be used with both hands, although I find it easier to use it in one. You can swap weapons during the game and reloading is done with a simple squeeze of the controllers. I’ve seen some people asking for more realistic reloading where you have to actually load the clip into the weapon manually, but I feel the current method works best for this fast paced action game, although an option to choose would be nice for those that want it.
The graphics are nice with decent looking gun models and animations. It runs really well with no noticeable slowdowns during the fast action. The sounds are also well done and you can hear the bullets whizzing past. The environments can be a bit bland in places with some flat textures but as mentioned this is early access so things could improve. To be honest, with so much going on around you, you’re not likely to notice a perfectly plastered wall in the distance!
The gameplay is what sells this game. It’s fast, fun, and will have you ducking for cover behind shelves, peering sideways past pillars and hiding behind shop counters. Don’t stay behind the same cover for too long though as most of the environment is destructible, which is brilliant! If you hide behind a shelf or a pillar for too long you’ll notice chunks of it disappear as the enemies spray many, many bullets your way. This forces you to move around the map and while the movement is implemented well, it may not be for everyone. You press on the trackpad on the Vive controller and point to a waypoint, of which there are a few around the map. You’ll then ‘slide’ to your chosen location. This movement feels weird and I can see some people not liking it. The first few times I moved to a new waypoint, when the character stopped my body leaned forwards, it’s a weird feeling, however I can’t think of a better way to move that wouldn’t break the flow of the game. The ‘blink’ method where you select your location and you’re magically transported there would, I feel, ruin the flow of the game. So while this movement method can feel weird, it works as you can continue to fire at enemies while you’re moving as though you’re character is running.
One thing that I’m not entirely sold on is the ‘bullet time’. This aspect of the game sees the game slow down when bullets come close to you. I found it wasn’t slow enough to allow you to effectively dodge the bullets, like you can in Space Pirate Trainer, and it was happening a little too often which made the game appear like it was struggling to perform, which is wasn’t. If you raise the difficulty you get less of this which makes the gameplay more enjoyable, for me anyway, however it would be nice to have the option to tweak or even turn the bullet time off completely. Again, this may be tweaked in future updates to make it a more polished feature.
Something else that I feel could be improved is the HUD, or lack of it. I found it difficult to tell how much health I had left. It’s indicated by distorted vision and you get an idea of when you’re about to die, but it would be nice, again in my opinion, if you had the option to have some sort of health indicator in the HUD somewhere.
In its current state there are two levels to play. There is a motel car park which is a ‘work in progress’ and the Mall, which takes place inside a shop. I won’t go into the Motel level much as it’s not finished but personally I feel this one is currently too dark. The background is dark as are the suits of your well dressed enemies so I found it really hard to see them until they start shooting at me.
The Mall level however is brilliant. It’s light so you can see everything that is happening and the enemies spawn at decent locations. There are plenty of decent cover locations and as you progress the difficulty ramps up at just the right pace to make it feel challenging. One really nice touch I noticed was the ricochets of the bullets. I shot at an enemy and as is normal, I totally missed, and saw the bullet ricochet off the wall and smash the pane of glass on the balcony above.
The downside to it being an Early Access title is that there are a few bugs, happily nothing major. For example once my game started and no enemies would spawn (although this only happened once so has probably already been fixed), a simple restart fixed that one. Another minor bug which is more funny than game breaking, is that if the game ends and there is a body of an enemy laying on the floor, you can continue to shoot the corpse while in the main menu screen and he continues to make a little ‘oofff’ noises! Another thing I noticed was that if two enemies spawn in front of one another, the one at the back will just shoot his mate in front of him trying to hit me. These are minor bugs that made me chuckle rather than get annoyed and I’m sure they’ll be ironed out as the game matures.
The implementation of local scoreboards adds the desire to keep playing to beat your own, or your friends/families, high scores. The developer has mentioned that they want to add the ability for a friend to control the enemies via a mobile phone app which would be interesting to see, although not sure how much that would add. I think many people would rather see multiplayer co-op added, but I can imagine that would be a huge job.
Fast Action Hero is currently in Early Access and as it stands in its current state, it’s a great wave shooter that is worth your time and hard earned money. The developer is very active and has plans to add more content and improve the game with each update. If you’ve ever watched an action film and wondered what it would be like to be the hero, this is the closest you’re likely to get!
Title: Fast Action Hero
Please note I was very kindly given a review copy by the generous developer. However this has not affected my review in any way.