It's assumed that resources on earth ran out because here I am on the moon starting work for a company called FIRMA. It's my job to pilot a TL-6 Transit Lander, which is basically a small module with directional thrusters and the hardware needed for moving cargo.
The first few days of work go by without anything more exciting than a rival company trying to edge in on our supplies, but I quickly dispatch them with my dual cannons. It's a day's work done, and I'm invited back to the space-bar for some drinks.
Not until I begin receiving some shady orders from my boss do I realize things might not be exactly as they seem. Sprinkled in with my usual jobs are some cargo switches and aggressive takeovers that don't seem to align with the initial job description. Am I just a space trucker, or am I involved in something far more nefarious?
This thing handles like a dream
The best thing about FIRMA is hands-down the actual piloting of the TL-6. The flight tutorial, mandatory before you jump into a real mission, only takes about 30 seconds but teaches you everything you need to know to maneuver with precision.
The Rift's Xbox controller lends itself well to flight, and the button mapping is similar to a first-person shooter or RPG. The left stick controls directional movement — like strafing — and the right stick turns your craft. The right trigger is the vertical thrust, and the left trigger is a speed boost. Other than that, you have a left bumper for firing your cannons. All aiming is performed with your head.
The sense of speed while racing or just booting it over a hill feels real and remained a thrill no matter how many times I did it. After a few hours of piloting the craft, I was able to keep up my speed and complete missions faster — everything you do is timed, and you can return to completed missions and attempt to best yourself.
The most time I spent at once in the Rift piloting my TL-6 was about two hours, and I didn't suffer from any motion sickness whatsoever. The devs did a good job of creating a cockpit with just the right amount of stuff — fuel and shield gauges and a map — in it to keep you grounded, but not so much that it blocks your view.
Each workday involves separate missions that you can choose to do in any order. Missions are highlighted by green beams of light coming off of landing pads. You set down the TL-6, watch as your fuel and shields are replenished, and your boss comes on the intercom to let you know what's up. You can choose to accept or reject any mission, but you will have to complete all missions to end the workday. It's a simple way of letting you explore the moon on your own time, and as long as you set down to refuel before you run out completely, you can fly around indefinitely while practicing your skills.
Most missions are standard pick up X and deliver it to Y. There is some variance, like pick up X, fly him around to a few places, then deliver to Y, but things mostly stay the same. There is some combat, and the races — usually set up as if you have dangerous goods to dispose of or important tools to deliver — are a thrill, but the game is missing something. The devs are working on multiplayer, and that would make combat and racing far better, but until then the missions get a little stale after the first few hours, even after moving on to another planet.
Despite its shortcomings...
Despite the lack of mission variety and multiplayer, FIRMA is downright fun. The controls are simple enough that anyone can be a pilot, but actually mastering the TL-6 is a challenge. As far as the story goes, it was enough to keep me coming back, and it was wrapped up in a satisfying way.
If Think Heavy carries through on their promise to deliver multiplayer, FIRMA could become a great arcade space-shooter and racer. As it stands now, this is an entertaining, challenging game that sci-fi fans will enjoy. At only $13, we can't help but recommend any ambitious space-pilots add this game to their library.
- TL-6 is a joy to pilot
- Interesting story
- Lack of mission variety
This review was conducted on Oculus Rift using a copy purchased by the reviewer.