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  20 Second Review: Emergency Fire Response
On 08/15/03 by Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson

Developer: Monte Cristo Multimedia
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interview
Release Date: 07/30/03
ESRB: "T" for Teen
Official Site: www.montecristogames.com/Etats-Unis/ImageInterface/FDintro.htm
Platform(s): PC

Gameplay
:: pc :: I really wasn't expecting much from this game. Most rescue/fire/save the day simulators have been poorly done and my last encounter with one (Emergency 2) went horribly awry when I discovered that it was actually miraculously worst than the first rendition of the game. If I were to compare that game to Gigli it would quite possibly be the biggest understatement of the year. Luckily for me and the developer of Fire Department I don't HAVE to trash it. Why? Simple, it's one well done title. True, touting only ten missions (although they claim more since there are often several mini-missions contained within one "big" mission), in terms of longevity and replayability the game is a tad disappointing. But the excitement and implementation of real-life fire tactics including back drafts and flashovers make those ten missions tense and fun at the same time. The missions themselves vary drastically, and I mean drastically (think along the lines of comparing an apple to a grenade), between each other. All the sudden you might be putting out a simple structure fire and the next moment you might be responding to a full blown train wreck with toxic fumes all over the place or even saving millions of dollars from a burning building a bank robber has barricaded himself in.

One glaring glitch I discovered however was that instead of being a good little boy I often just extinguished all the fire at once and then dealt with whatever individual objectives I was supposed to accomplish (eg. Saving a priceless piece of art). But once you do save that piece of art they have to progress the storyline so like a bat out of hell the places you just put out amazingly "flare" back up. And when I say "flare" I mean instantaneously engulf the entire room again. Unrealistic, yes, but if you play the game how a true firefighter would (rescuing all the downed people before even thinking about the fire) then you won't encounter this. A major gripe I've had with past games who try to recreate a disaster scene is vehicle movement. Much to my surprise this is the first game where that hasn't been an issue at all. Everything moves smoothly and about how you would expect a cumbersome vehicle to move in real life. It's also worth mentioning that there isn't a whole lot of variety in terms of numbers between the units and vehicles. Luckily due to the shortness of the campaign this doesn't really come into play and you never notice that you only have control of less than fifteen different types of units in total.

Graphics
:: pc ::Graphically this game is jaw dropping. Sure, it isn't Half-Life 2 or any game of that caliber but then again it wasn't designed to compete with those sorts of titles. The flames look very realistic, the environments are extremely detailed, and the capability of skinning your units and vehicles based on what country you live in is an awesome feature. Animations are in no short supply either; explosions are everywhere, staircases are collapsing, windows are blowing out and, well � you get the picture. It's also a nice design feature that if you haven't entered a room, or at least knocked out a window with your handy dandy axe from the outside, you cannot see what is contained by the room. That means you must individually clear each and every room to ensure there are is no fire or any straggling civilians. Overall, absolutely superb when you compare the visuals to those of any other game similar to this one.

Sound
:: pc ::There really isn't much sound in the music department - in fact none at all. While in normal circumstances this might be detrimental to a games sound score it really wasn't the case here because the sound effects are so well done. And take it from a guy who played the game for eight hours straight - sound effects are aplenty. Cars exploding, windows shattering, fires blazing out of control and people screaming for your help; it's all included and it's all extremely well done. One complaint I did have however was with the voiceovers for your firefighters. Much like Starcraft every time you click a unit you get a unique response from them such as "moving there immediately sir". Only problem is the responses become less and less unique after you click your firefighter thousands of times throughout the campaign. A minor gripe, that's all. Besides that, everything was a-okay from over here.

In a Word: Fun.

Word to the Publisher: Congratulations, you've certainly managed to pick up on one of the best emergency simulators ever created. I would not mind seeing a continuation to this series -- with a few more missions perhaps.

Full Reviews:
  • GameSpot
Final Score: 85%
#1 - Bulldog - 08/19/03 @ 06:47 PM EST
Testing.Last Edited on 08/19/03 @ 06:47 PM EST
#2 - Pezman - 08/19/03 @ 06:47 PM EST
Pencils down class, pass the papers forward.


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