Reign of Fire for the PlayStation 2 is based on the 2002 film of the same name starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale. The movie's plot pitted humankind against fire-breathing dragons that had become the dominant species on Earth. The movie was largely unremarkable, and its sometimes striking visuals were offset by the flat execution of its plot. This game is therefore a suitable rendition of its source material, as it sports some good graphics but little else. Reign of Fire isn't terrible, but ultimately, a number of glaring flaws keep it from being an enjoyable gaming experience.
At its core, Reign of fire is a lackluster shooter.
At its core, Reign of Fire is a vehicular shooter. You drive around in a variety of different vehicles, each of which is armed with a number of different weapons and able to equip other weapons strewn about the level. The game uses a control scheme in which you control the vehicle's aiming cursor with the left analog stick, and the vehicle drives whatever direction the cursor is pointed. While this initially seems to be an effective control scheme, given the pace and style of the game's action, it quickly becomes unwieldy. You might find yourself wishing for some of the more established control schemes seen in other car combat games, as this scheme tends to be mushy and unresponsive, especially in the heat of battle. There is an alternative control scheme that maps the movement of the vehicle to the left stick and control of the aiming cursor to the right, but this scheme, used primarily in first-person shooters, makes even less sense in this context.
You will operate a number of vehicles, starting with a military jeep and then moving on to fire trucks, dune buggies, pickup trucks, and tanks. The first few missions of the game are fairly lengthy and chaotic. Your briefings just call for following the mid-mission orders of your superior, which basically boil down things like, "Go to this point and kill stuff," and "Now go here and kill more stuff." Later in the game, your objectives will be laid out at the beginning of each mission, giving them a more cut-and-dried feel. The dragons are the only enemies you'll face, and while there is a bit of variety to them--there are some that crawl, others that fly and breathe fire, and still others that charge at you and bite you--the variety wears thin quickly.
The game's visuals do a fine job of giving you the sense that you're in an all-out war, with countless dragons raining fire down upon you and your comrades and batteries of guns aimed skyward, trying to bring the beasts down. Even still, the action lacks a real sense of urgency. The progression of the missions doesn't seem to be directly affected by your actions. An ally might report that he needs help or is sustaining damage, but he doesn't ever actually die if you just wait it out. Unless you're set on fire, your vehicle can withstand numerous dragon attacks, so you'll often just feel like you're waiting for the missions to end and killing dragons to kill time. The friendly AI has a tendency to be pretty bad, too. In missions in which one of the victory conditions is to protect certain characters, they do very little to keep themselves out of harm's way, and if they're set on fire, they'll do nothing to extinguish themselves.