The game is a first person shooter, where the player takes the role of a Tau Fire Warrior, Kais, seeking to rescue his leader and defend his race from the aggressive Imperium of Man and forces of Chaos.
There is also a multiplayer mode consisting of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag. Eight multiplayer maps are included with the game, Deathmatch having its own, and Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag having their own. Fire Warrior was one of the first PlayStation 2 games to support 8 player games using its broadband adaptor.[ ]
The story takes place over a period of 24 hours. The game begins with Kais's first mission, an attempt to rescue Ko'vash from Governor Severus. He infiltrates Severus's prison-fortress, and escapes with Ko'vash intact. As the Orca dropship begins docking with the Tau Emissary class cruiser, it is attacked by an Imperial Battleship, and boarding pods are launched. Kais then fights a desperate battle against a force of Storm Troopers as they try to disable the cruiser's engines, and assassinate the Captain. After Kais fails to rescue the Captain, he and several teams of Fire-Warriors are launched, by boarding pod at the Imperial ship. There,he disables the ship's guns and nearly captures the ship's commander, Admiral Constantine. Kais is clubbed on the head by Captain Ardias, however, and is captured. Ardias brokers a truce between the Imperium and the Tau, and it is revealed that Governor Severus has been seduced by the Powers of Chaos, teleporting a contingent of Word Bearers Chaos Marines onto the ship. They capture the ship's remaining guns, in an attempt to re-start the Imperium-Tau war, but are stopped by Kais's destruction of the guns. Ardias then sets the ship to self-destruct, and Kais escapes via a Dreadnought drop-pod. Landing in the midst of a ruined Imperial city, Kais fights his way to fellow Tau Fire-Warriors, and learns from Ardias that Severus plans to use an Imperial Titan held in the City. Kais destroys the Titan, enters Severus's fortress, and kills Severus and his daemonic master. The game ends with Ardias ordering that the planet should be destroyed to prevent the taint of Chaos from spreading. Many adversaries from the Warhammer 40,000 universe are encountered by the protagonist Kais, such as Dreadnoughts, Chaos Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Daemon princes, and an Imperial Valkyrie.
- La'Kais -- the game's protagonist. The game is Kais's first day of live combat action so the first level is named "Trial by Fire".
- Governor Meyloch Severus -- The Governor of the planet Dolumar IV in the game. Prior to the mission 'No Rest for the Wicked', he was interested in the Tau psyche, disappointed that they did not have any link to the Warp. He aligned himself with the Chaos Daemon Tarkh'ax, and summoned Word Bearers Chaos marines onto the Imperial battleship. The Chaos marines destroyed the ship, and Severus holed up in his fortress on Dolumar IV, 'The Pit'. Chaos marines under his command also attempted to capture and control an Imperial Titan, but they were foiled when Kais destroyed the sacred machine. When killed by Kais, his corpse was possessed by Tarkh'ax.
- Admiral Constantine -- The captain of the Imperial ship that attacks the Tau in an attempt to retrieve the Ethereal after Kais rescues him. His boarding force is repelled, and the Tau launch a counter-boarding action, where Kais eventually attacks the bridge and nearly captures the Admiral. He is later taken by Governor Severus and the Word Bearers, and lasts just long enough to give Kais a final warning before he is turned into a Chaos Spawn.
- El'Lusha -- The Commander of Kais' force. He guides Kais through the first half of the game. In the novel, he dons a Crisis Suit and his team helps defeat the Daemon for good.
- Aun'el Ko'Vash -- The whole reason for the game, the first missions on Dolumar IV are to rescue Ko'Vash.
- Ardias -- Captain of the 3rd Company of the Ultramarines Chapter. He saves the Admiral's life when Kais storms the bridge. He negotiates a truce between the Imperials and Tau, where later, he overrides Kais' communications, allowing him to direct Kais through the second half of the game to fight the Chaos incursion. In the novelization, he also fights against Tarkh'ax in the Chaos temple.
- Narrator: Tom Baker
- Lusha: Burt Kwouk
- Governor Severus: Sean Pertwee
- Admiral Constantine: Brian Blessed
- Captain Ardias: Peter Serafinowicz
- Ko'vash: David Yip
In October 2003, Black Library Publishing released a novelization of the game under the same title (Spurrier, 2003). The book explores the plot of the game in much greater detail, as well as a close look at Tau culture.
The commander of the Tau strike force in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade is called Shas'o Kais. Whether or not this is the same Kais is unconfirmed, as Kais is a recruit in Fire Warrior and the rank of Shas'O approximates to that of general, so a significant amount of time must have passed (32 years for Tau society). Also, at the end of the Fire Warrior novelization, Kais was shown to be in a coma, possibly mentally broken by his experiences fighting the forces of Chaos, though the medics said he may have pulled himself out of this.
Fire Warrior received mediocre reviews from the majority of the gaming press sites on the PC version, receiving an average score of 6.0 from sites such as IGN and Gamespot. It was described as a let-down "shooter by the numbers" FPS for the PC and ended up with a 5.5 on GameStats . However, IGN gave the PS2 version an 8.1 and the game received a B- from the Play Magazine, along with other decent reviews. The PS2 version was actually better received by critics and fans all around, earning it a 7.1 on Gamestats