Fire Department presents players with the real-life dilemmas of fire fighters and fire departments. With limited resources, very real dangers, and trapped people who must be saved in a few scant minutes, firefighters have their work cut out for them. Players will tackle ten missions including explosions, a petrochemical refinery, a railroad accident, and a warehouse fire. Six firefighting jobs -- basic, nurse, protective clothing specialist, engineer, commando, and obstacle specialist -- offer a variety of gameplay experiences. Players must make decisions, sometimes rushing in, but sometimes containing and waiting for specialists. Performances are evaluated from mission to mission, with captains receiving rewards for outstanding performances and detailed memorials for firefighters who don't survive the inferno. Firefighting vehicles include the massive Aerial, the Pumper, the mini-Pumper, the Water Tower, the Tanker, the Medic Master, and the Wildland Xtreme (a bulldozer).
It was every child's dream growing up, to visit a fire station and see how fire fighters spend their time through an ordinary day, then getting the call to respond to a situation. Watching the big red truck roll away with the sirens on only makes a child say: "That's what I want to do when I grow up". Every child that happened to play Emergency Fire Response would never again dream of becoming a fire fighter.
Developed by Monte Cristo and published by Dreamcatcher, Emergency Fire Response primary appeal wasn't just to the US, but to the European countries as well. In fact in other nations, the game has a completely different title. Therefore if you find another game similar to this, but under a slightly modified name, it's probably the same game.
The premise of Emergency Fire Response is simple. The game unravels in a number of cinematics before each mission. The style used is reminiscent to those of early Blizzard cinematics of Diablo or Warcraft II. Not to make a direct comparison to the two, the graphics are better, though still makes a dismal attempt at being anything up to par. After seeing the given cinematic, the mission begins.
The structure of gameplay is, overall, a point-and-click system. This comes to no surprise as Monte Cristo and Dreamcatcher have previously worked with point-and-click adventure titles. Selecting fire fighters is done with the left mouse button, and issuing orders is done with the right mouse button. Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't offer anything new; when playing, watching the fire fighters in action becomes very boring.
Once they're done controlling a segment of the fire, another click sends them away to a different portion. This is done far too many times, and you'll find yourself sitting and watching, instead of playing.
Trying to "spice" up the gameplay, during a mission, you'll have to also try to complete sub-missions. To no ones surprise, these are also completed by pointing and clicking. Sub-missions include saving unconscious civilians, stopping bombs from exploding, and various other things that go hand-in-hand with the mission played. The worst part of the gameplay lies within the sudden changes within a mission. During a mission the game cuts into a cinematic opening another task to be completed. At first, this made for a more in-depth experience, but then, things went completely wrong. After receiving one of these tasks, you'll get five or six more on top of that. This means, you'd have to try to control the primary fire, save special people, and hack into the security system while using five fire fighters. Because of this, the mission will come to an abrupt stop, causing it to be replayed. (Of course, for strategy fans there's probably just the right amount of challenge.)
Being a top-down game with little characters, the surroundings need special attention, in order to create a believable setting. For the most part, the team did a pretty good job making the settings look decent with destructible buildings and pseudo-realistic fire effects. I say "pseudo" because the fire effects don't always move like an actual fire. This can be seen after controlling a fire for quite some time, then looking back and seeing the fire lit up again, while there aren't any other fires around that single portion. This is frustrating, but not to worry, other things are far more frustrating then this. The character graphics are, surprisingly, poorly done. Hard ridges and lack of detail plague each character when compared to the surrounding graphics.
On the topic of sound, what is there to expect? There is subtle music, but for the most part, the crackle of the fire is what is heard. Sometimes a building or two will collapse, but other then that, repetitive sound fuels the game.
Emergency Fire Response was a great idea gone awry like many good ideas do. For fans of fires or fans of just wasting away time staring into a dark monitor, Emergency Fire Response will be your "Game of the Year".
People who downloaded Fire Department (a.k.a. Fire Chief / Emergency Fire Response) have also downloaded:
Firefighter Command: Raging Inferno, Fire Department: Episode 3, Emergency 2: The Ultimate Fight for Life, Emergency 3, 911 First Responders, Emergency Room, ER, Emergency: Fighters for Life
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