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The Crow: Fire It Up!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Devil's Night Treat that Can't be Beat rss

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Tiger Wiccan
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Ok, corny review titles aside, here is my review of a game that barely anyone will probably play, due to the niche cross section of the population that it will likely appeal to. How many board gamers out there have enough love (or even interest at all) in The Crow, and the movie adaptation at that, to want to play a game that claims to mirror the theme and plot of that movie?

Well I do, for one. I was a lonely guy that had just joined the US Navy when that movie hit the theater. I didn't even know that the graphic novel existed, but something about the poster for the movie drew me into the theater. I ended up seeing it seven times in the theater over the course of the next few months or so, and its characters and plot were forever etched in my brain. I then, of course, learned of the graphic novel, and bought it as soon as I could. I even sat through each awful sequel, and watched and then collected the TV series, which I actually enjoyed until it got corny at the end.

All that above is to show how much of a fan I am of the source material for this board game, and how compelled I was to buy and play it, no matter how awful it might be.

But as it turns out, this game is not awful at all. In fact, it actually delivers exactly what it promises in the description, for better or for worse, based on your affinity for the movie. Here is what the publisher says the game is:

"In a world without justice, one man was chosen to protect the innocent! Set on Devil's Night in the Motor City, play as Eric Draven as he dishes out revenge against the Motor City gang that took his life and the life of his fiance, Shelly, in The Crow: Fire It Up Board Game! As Eric Draven, the player uses the aid of Officer Albrecht, Sarah, and the mysterious Crow to track down the Motor City Gang and stave off their reign of terror, while the opposing players portray members of the vicious gang consisting of Tin-Tin, Funboy, T-Bird, Grange, Myca, and Top Dollar spreading fires and mayhem throughout the city as they seek to lure the undead avenger out of the shadows and take him out!"

Ok, so that more or less sums up the plot of the movie. It promises to be a game that mirrors the theme and plot of the movie, and as I said above, it actually delivers on that promise.

The theme of the movie is dark, gothic, violent, and chaotic. And the game portrays that theme very well. They don't shy away from the more adult elements of the story. I was telling my brother before we played this that they will probably water it down and use words like "defeat" instead of "kill" when talking about how Draven deals with the gangsters that he is gaining revenge on, but not only do they make it clear that he is killing them, but they even have rather graphic depictions of their death scenes on the back of their character cards and on the markers that the Crow player uses to determine order that he slaughters them in to win the game.

It even goes a bit farther than the movie did in the character killing department, as Sarah can actually die in the church if it is burned when she has bee kidnapped and is waiting for Eric to saver her, and Albrecht can die if his apartment has been burned down and he then takes damage. Their survival in the movie is pivotal to any ray of hope that exists at the end of the movie (even though they piss on that in Sarah's case in the sequel), but it is not guaranteed in the game.

So in the game, you have gang members going around burning buildings, attacking Eric and his friends, and trying to pull off an overall objective that is drawn from a deck of many different possible scenarios, which only the gang player (or team) knows until it is time for their grand finale of mayhem. If they then achieve that goal, they win the game. They can also kill Eric to win the game, but that can only be done after he kills all four of the thugs that killed him and Shelly, or one of Micah or Grange, which brings Top Dollar down from his ivory tower to actually give a shit about what is going on in his streets. That is also the part in the game where he learns Eric's "secret" and can now kill him for good. Eric, in the meantime, has to kill all of the thugs in a specific order determined randomly by shuffling the counters that depict the four thugs responsible for his and Shelly's death, which, as mentioned above, draws out Top Dollar, who Eric must then kill to win the game.

If the description above seems a little familiar to you, then you are probably as much of a fan of the movie as I am. Well, you might not have seen it in the theater seven times, but I won't hold that against you. The overall flow of the game is very evocative of the events of the movie. I will also add that knowing the characters beforehand was a real help itself in actually learning the game, because all the rules regarding their actions and interactions in the game actually makes sense given their roles in the movie.

Take Gideon, for example. His pawn shop is the only building that Eric can burn down. Once he does that, Gideon then is out on the streets, until he meets up with Top Dollar. Then either Top Dollar OR Gideon himself can spend an action to kill Gideon. To a non-fan, this doesn't make sense at all, but to a fan of the movie, you know that its partly Gideon's own mouth that gets him killed by Top Dollar. But there is also a gameplay reason that the gang player wants him killed, because while he is on the streets, the Crow player gets an extra action a turn, which reflects the help that Gideon gave Eric by squealing on the gang of four and their whereabouts.

There are other game elements that more or less make sense given their roles in the movie and general logic, like Arcade Games has to be the first building destroyed in it's neighborhood, the hot dog stand gives Sarah extra movement while it is still standing, and the police station gives Albrecht extra defense while it is still standing. Eric can also use the Fire Station to put out fires as long as its not destroyed, which isn't from the movie at all, but still makes logical sense from a gameplay atandpoint.

It's this mix of adhering to the movie so well and knowing when to veer off from it for the sake of making a playable game that made playing this game so enjoyable for my brother and I. We have only played it once, so our opinion of it might change with more plays, but we both want to play it again for sure, and that says a lot for the game itself.

Sometimes you wonder what marketing decisions bring a game like this out at all, especially so long after the movie has had any kind of mainstream popularity, but I'm glad they did, because at least in my opinion, it is a very enjoyable and replayable delve into the events and dark themes of one of my favorite movies ever.
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Reed Dawley
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Delmar
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I wish I could play more games.
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I am sure I will be able to pick it up for 15$ during a Christmas sale for the GF and she will dig it. I'll play a not the greatest game that has good theming. Of course we will have to watch the movie first as I havent seen it since it was in theaters, which gives me an excuse to make her watch aliens and get a game of Legendary encounters alien in afterwards.
 
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Tom Roy
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I always told myself if I had a daughter I'd name her Shelly. I'm praying this game is good.
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Ima Dork
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" I even sat through each awful sequels"
You really, REALLY shouldn't have done that.
Even though Iggy Pop was in one of them: I avoided them like the plague.
My condolences to you.

I Crow'd it up on a few Hallowe'ens back then.
Apparently I was a little too good at it.
Numerous people told me I scared the shiza outta them!
Still have pix from back in the day, even a video clip.
I played a gig once as Eric, drinking Vodka 7 from a 1 gallon Javex bleach bottle I'd spent a month prepping and 'making safe'.
Let me tell ya: Don't try that.
Vodka pulls bleach outta plastic, no matter how much chemistry one used to neutralize it.
Ouch.
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C
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thanks for the in-depth review/analysis!

I was really into the movie when it came out also, never saw the sequels nor the tv series, and still have a slight interest in it.

I think they could have generated much more interest if there were plastic figs instead of standees. The cost would be much higher but might still work out better as there probably would be many geeks picking it up just to get a Crow miniature.
 
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