New Dreamcast Game Revealed: In The Line Of Fire

A few months ago we showed off some images of a brand new first person shooter that didn't actually have a name. If you don't know what I'm talking about, cast your mind back to those pictures of the clowns holding invisible guns. If you still don't know what I'm blathering on about, simply cast your peepers downward a few pixels and refresh your memory:
Remember now? Excellent. The guys behind the 'unnamed shooter' have been hard at work behind the scenes, it seems and have finally put together a fully playable build of the game. Oh, and it has a name now too: In The Line Of Fire. I'm not usually one to blow my own trumpet (much), but I thought I should mention that I had a small hand in choosing that name...but this isn't about me. It's about a brand new story-driven first person shooter coming exclusively to the Dreamcast...and we've played the alpha build!

The screens on this page are taken from PC Dreamcast emulator DEmul, and I must thank my friend Stephen Robinson of Dreamcast Hub for assisting me when it came to getting the supplied rom file up and running on my girlfriend's ropey old Lenovo laptop. I almost exclusively use macs for both my actual job and for the guff I write for this blog in my spare time, and while Apple computers are perfect for some applications (badly editing the podcast, badly editing YouTube videos, badly editing photos), running exclusive Dreamcast alphas is not one of those. So massive thanks to Stephen, we love you baby. Cough.
Anyway, back to In The Line Of Fire. The game comes from an indie developer called Militia Studio, and the team is made up of Jug, Ph3nom and sound designer Richard. Together, these three have produced a pretty stunning demo of what they assure me is going to be a Dreamcast exclusive game. And by simply looking at the screens around this page, I'm sure it won't take much to convince you that this game is indeed nothing short of spectacular.

As stated, I only played the rom using Dreamcast emulator DEmul, but the game is also playable on Dreamcast hardware should you have the ability to burn bootable games with your computer (which again, thanks to the hipsters down at Cupertino, is something I do not). Enough bullshit from me though. How does In The Line Of Fire play? Well...superbly, to tell the truth. It almost reminds me a little of Soldier of Fortune in design and while there's only one level initially available to the discerning Dreamcaster, it had me hooked and I can't wait to see more.
You start off in a bank while a heist is in progress and at first you are rooted to the spot. The on-screen prompts give you instructions on how the game's enemy targeting system works so that you can mark or tag enemies and then pop out from cover and shoot them in a sort of quick time event. The camera switches to a third person for this, allowing you to get a good look at your surroundings too. Once you've done as the game suggests and used the tagging mode to kill the first two antagonists in the bank, you get full first person control and it's business as usual. The game prompts you to get down to the vault to stop the robbery, and then to the roof to stop the perps getting away. Along the way, you meet several henchmen and must pop caps in them lest they do the the same to you first.

Ammo is in limited supply and baddies can take a lot of punishment before going down, so well aimed shots are the key to success and getting to the roof to complete the mission (although at this point I'm yet to make it that far!). The health system is interesting as you don't have a life bar or an on-screen percentage - you simply get more covered in blood as you take damage and once the screen is wall to wall claret, it's game over. As is the standard operating procedure in most contemporary shooters, in order to recover you simply hang back and wait for the bloodstains to fade and then you can jump straight back into the action.
Graphically, In The Line Of Fire looks like it could be the most impressive thing to ever come from the Dreamcast indie circuit. Everything looks so solid and polished. The interiors are well designed and the character models look better than a lot of official Dreamcast games. Overall, the level of detail is stunning. Just looking out of the windows of the bank reveals a believable world showing banks and shops...with a few hidden Easter eggs thrown in for good measure (can you spot The Barber?!).
As it's a demo, the game isn't perfect - enemies can clip through walls and the controls are a bit sticky...but this is an alpha build so these things are to be expected. As a glimpse at what is potentially on the way from Militia Studios, In The Line of Fire is a stunning debut. Keep an eye out for further information soon on this exciting title, and be sure to check out fellow Sega Network site Dreamcast Hub for details too. Below you'll find a YouTube video shared with us by Militia Studios showing the game running on a Dreamcast.

Second Opinion
This is by no means a demo of the final game and shouldn't be viewed as one; it's a tech demo that confidently demonstrates the amazing progress Militia Studio have made with their engine in the relatively short time since announcement.

Technically, it's up there with Xenocider and Elysian Shadows as one of the most impressive works in the Dreamcast indie scene thus far. As Tom mentioned, and I'd have to agree with him, the game is very reminisant of Solider of Fortune graphically, but in terms of gameplay, there is still a long way to go before this can be viewed as a comercial release worthy of our hard earned cash. Enemy AI is pretty much non-existent, unwanted clipping is abundant, targetting is finicky and the entire demo can be completed in roughly 2-3 minutes.

The devs have certainly proven their salt and I'm confident that given time, they will reach a stage where it can genuinly be considered a game worthy of our time and money. I cannot stress enough that as a tech demo, it gives me high hopes for the future but at this point, for me to call it a good game would be disingenuous. But nor should one expect as much, because as the dev team themselves fully admit, this is a very early build with a ton of features and tweaks unfinished.

So what would it take for a tight arse critic like myself to back their upcoming Kickstarter? Releasing the engine along with some basic documentation to the community would perhaps be enough to be honest. Just thinking of what other devs could do with the engine is an incredibly exciting prospect. Besides that, the game definitely needs some kind of aim assist, because let's be honest, the DC controller doesn't really lend itself well to the genre. Other than that, a comprehensive list of planned features along with a preliminary schedule (much like what some of the better early access games on Steam feature) would go a long way.

The future looks bright for In The Line Of Fire, and I for one can't wait to see more.
- Ross

So now you know what we think, we want to know your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below or on our Facebook group. Props must also go to Stephen of Dreamcast Hub for designing the logo image used at the top of this page. Hugs and kisses dude. In a totally platonic way, naturally.


B# Major General said...

I think I will keep an eye out for it. As much as I like 8-bit and 16-bit inspired puzzle games and shoot-em-ups, it's nice to see someone making a 3D game for a change. (Plus the DC exclusivity is a compelling reason to not just wait for a sale on Steam to try a random indie/homebrew game.)

Florian Wallin said...

I have already followed this project since the first screens was posted, it makes me really glad to see that they seems dedicated enough to probably finish this game , and not only that , its going to be an dreamcast exclusive ? Sound almost to good to be true.

As with all indiegame developers for the dreamcast scene , the "Militia Studio" can be sure to have a piece of my money as soon i can preorder !

Looks awsome guys , nice framerate and animations, athmosphere looks promising as well , please keep the good work up !

// Florian Wallin

Henrick said...

I'm very happy the projects keep coming. I love this. Looks promising