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Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) artwork

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) review


"Fire Retarded"


Itís almost gotten to the point where I canít do this anymore. Even when I space them months apart, these little attacks on the 32Xís library of awful FMV games fill me with a kind of dread Iíd rather not bother with. I mean, sometimes, Iím almost pleasantly surprised; Night Trap was a goofy kind of bad B-movie fun, and I could distract myself with the legal shenanigans surrounding that release. Other games like Corpse Killer at least had some kind of broken ambition in them while FMV basketball game Slam City made a play for being something unique and different. It also gave us a (badly) rapping Scottie Pippen, which the world sorely needed. SEGAís Fahrenheit is just soÖ. bland. The entire thing severely lacks even the destructive creativity of the Digital Pictures collection. Theyíre all differing shades of bloody awful, but none of them feel as phoned in as Fahrenheit does.

Itís a game about fire-fighters, and you canít tell me thatís not a premises with unlimited potential which remains a significantly untapped source for video games. Maybe SEGAís efforts here have put the industry off. In it, you play a fresh faced rookie who, on his first day, saves three people from burning to death (off camera) and, so impressed is his superior, that he places this inexperienced chap as the pointman of the fire and rescue service. This is a ludicrous decision on almost every level, putting the colleagues he leads into burning buildings in as much danger as the people awaiting rescue. So starts his fruitful career of exploring one of three locations via a grainy FMV window, getting lost, and dying.

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) image


Like its FMV siblings, Fahrenheit started life on the Mega CD and was upgraded to take advantage of the 32Xís extra processing power in the hopes that a gameís laundry list of ills would be cured by a bigger playing window and a higher video quality. This upgrade saved exactly none of these games, but all showed markedly improved cosmetics. It would be unfair to suggest this untrue of Fahrenheit, but it certainly shows the least improvement of its horrid little gathering of rehashes. Really, this is a bit of a shame, because the one thing that deserves some credit are the sets. Say what you want about Digital Pictures, but they certainly werenít afraid to set shit on fire then demand their camera crew and band of expendable extras wade through the flames.

The first stage isnít awful (which exhausts the last dribble of praise I have left for Fahrenheit); you enter a burning house with a teenage girl suspected to be trapped inside. The house is contained enough that youíll keep your bearings with a little effort and small enough that it doesnít have to rely on rehashing the same clips over and over again in a cheap attempt to artificially increase its size. What it does set out early is its ability to ask the most moronic questions it can dream up. You and your firefighting team have a displayed oxygen level which slowly decreases the more time you spend in the burning building, but you can top this back up by periodically discovering fire hazards wherein youíre offered a choice that will either gift you extra oxygen or burn you to death. Enter the houseís living area, and youíre faced with your first dastardly choice - a perplexing puzzle sure to test the logic skills of even the most adamant fire safety expert: thereís a kerosene heater nearby. Should you remove this highly flammable and explosive item from the burning room?

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) image


The worst thing about this isnít the stupidity of the question wherein saying yes gives you some oxygen and saying no burns you alive, but youíre actually offered a response of maybe. Still, at least the kerosene heater has some sense of finality to it; getting it wrong and dying here is solely down to your not immediately disposing of a thing that really should have exploded and killed you by now. You find the next stupid choice in the kitchen where youíre asked if you want to shut the gas off of a burning oven. If you want to, you know, live, then you do. But then you, the green rookie your vastly more experienced rescue team condescendingly refer to only as Ďthe kidí, are led to a supply closet containing three valves and told itís up to you which one you pick. Even though a colleague suggests that he would pick the middle one, pick any but the one on your right, and you die.

Choices in Fahrenheit are either remarkably dumb or rely entirely on trial and error, expecting you to traipse through the same burning corridors over and over until the correct sequence is drummed into your mind. Inside the house, this isnít too bad; thereís enough there to keep the scenario interesting but not enough that a few replays wonít significantly grate. It even briefly visits that brilliantly bad vibe, too - you can find the girl passed out under a duvet, because padded cotton is famously fire retardant, but, even if you save her, her family will be mighty pissed off if you donít rescue the family cat and a random box of jewelry as well.

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) image


This all changes in the next two stages. The second level is a hotel where you walk down the same line of doors over and over again, where every location looks so similar to the rest of the building that getting lost is unavoidable. Here, your vastly more experienced fire rescue teammates will stop you every few turns to ask if they should check if the doors are hot before entering as if triggering backdrafts were a mild annoyance rather than a death sentence. In the hotel, youíre tasked with rescuing an elderly lady who refuses to leave the building without her birds who, for no obtainable reason, have been left in someone elseís apartment. So youíll kick down dozens of doors looking for them, watching the same clip about entering an empty room over and over again, or discovering the same multiple stashes of flammable equipment that exist only to top up your air. Unless you get lucky, and find the room of a senile war vet sometimes shown wandering around outside. Here, youíll find his private supply of subtle explosives such as hand grenades and sticks of bloody dynamite.

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) image


Youíll probably never reach the third and final stage, for which I envy you. Doing away with any sense of creativity, you explore an underground bunker set beneath a university where a professor has locked himself in a secure control room and is working on blowing the place up because he didnít get that promotion he was after. The entire place is a literal maze that does nothing to distinguish one area from another, ensuring getting completely lost is a given. Youíll spend what time you have until you suffocate wandering around identical grey corridors that shoot identical fire spurts out of identical wall vents while the same steam hiss jump scare plays on loop between loading screens. Sometimes youíll discover a secure looking door that, upon opening, will play one of two overused clips. Sometimes youíll find a solid gold vase the professor will get angry at you for taking, and sometimes youíll find a cage of lab rats which triggers him into singing the first bar of ďThree Blind MiceĒ, then giggling to himself. To try and alleviate the fact youíll see these scenes multiple times, sometimes the game mirrors them so the actors stand in slightly different places. Which makes exactly no difference.

Find the right path by dogged determination or blind luck, and youíll have to work through various trial and error choices like how to disarm a bomb. Probability predicts youíll fail these at least once, and get sent back to worthlessly meandering around in the hopes youíll stumble across them again. Persevere (you wonít; but letís pretend), and youíll drag the professor out into the sunshine where he literally shakes his fist and tells the world this wonít be the last you see of him. But it will be, because thatís the end of the game. The fire chief gives you props, a colleague jokes that your reward will be that you wonít have to eat his cooking that night, and the cast throws back their heads and laughs. But their staged merriment does little to hide the lifeless void present in their grainy, compressed eyes. And then itís over; the credits roll and itís over. God help me, itís finally over.

Fahrenheit (Sega 32X) image


So. What have we learnt?

Fahrenheit isnít just a bad game, itís a painfully uninteresting one, relegating the ever present danger of firefighting into a bland, limited, by-the-numbers FMV dungeon crawler. But without the things that make dungeon crawlers worthwhile, like battles and loot. Instead, thereís fire and bad choices and about half an hourís worth of recorded video stretched out into a game that lethargically drags on until what feels like the end of days. It sucks hours from your life, and your only reward is to save a box of jewellry, to get some guy fired from his teaching job and to carry a birdcage out of a flaming building to rapturous applause. When asked if you want to remove highly flammable objects from fire, youíre also given the chance to say maybe.

Maybe donít bother with Fahrenheit. I understand that weird desire to check out awful games -- I share it; thatís how I got here in the first place, but thereís no sense of dumbfounded disbelief to be found here. Thereís no disbelieving chuckles to be found, no sense of purpose. Thereís just a mundane trudge towards an unsatisfying three minute conclusion and the lingering sense that youíve wasted a slice of your life youíll never get back.

1/5

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 14, 2017)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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hastypixels posted June 14, 2017:

A slice of the meandering, directionless marketing that sums up the existence of Sega's console add-ons. Yes, all of them. Good review, bucko!
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Nightfire posted June 14, 2017:

Jeeeeezus.

So, I'm curious... You say there's about 30 minutes of FMV in here, but with all the repeating/redundant crap, how long is an actual playthrough?
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EmP posted June 15, 2017:

I would guess that if you know exactly where you're going then the game would probably run for about three hours. I couldn't tell you how long I played for. By the time I got to the third stage, exploring the bunker for a couple of hours felt like a lifetime.

The ills I suffer for you lot....

(thanks for reading!)
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Nightfire posted June 15, 2017:

Three hours. Aaaaand let me guess, this thing was probably full priced during its heydey.

Ay yi yi...

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