The scene is a four car pileup on one of the city's busiest highways. A police officer guides traffic through the scene, medics are tending to the many casualties found around the area, firefighters attempt to put out a fire that has started after one of the cars exploded, and working crews are standing by waiting to clear the wreckage once everything is within control. What are you doing? You're monitoring their every move. Your the commanding chief of all emergency crews, and your job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. That's the concept behind TopWare's latest game entitled Emergency: Fighters for Life. This real time strategy pits you as the head honcho of every emergency crew in the city, and your job is to handle every emergency situation in a calm and orderly fashion.
The object of the game is simple: send out crews to various emergency situations and ensure the safety of everybody involved. The game starts off by giving you a set number of emergency crews (police personnel, medical personnel, firefighters, etc.) Your job is to receive emergency situations, and assign objectives to each of your different crews. As you successfully complete each mission, your given more funding so that you can purchase more units, more bases, etc. so that you can carry out further missions in a more effective manner. The missions include a variety of situations such as highway accidents, nuclear plant disasters, fires, and much more. You're given mission objectives for each situation as well, which you must follow in order to complete them.
The actual missions themselves play out in real time, so you can't lag behind in your objectives. You'll have to load up your vehicles, send them out to the scene, give your men specific orders and carry them out in an orderly fashion. All of this is done using the mouse. Inside your base, you'll have to click on your different personnel to load them into the truck, and so forth. When you arrive at the scene, you must disembark your personnel and instruct them as to what they should do. Unfortunately, the game becomes fairly repetitive in this respect. Although the situations are diverse, the commands you can give your troops aren't. One mistake, and you'll have to restart the mission, and it simply boils down to finding the right combination of commands it will take to complete the mission. In this respect, there isn't a great deal of strategy to the game. Replay value is also cut extremely short by this as well. Once you complete a mission, you can never play it a second time, because it will play out the same way every time. If some aspects of the missions were generated randomly, it would have added a great deal of replay value to the game.
A nice feature in the game is the fact that you must use resources. You have a certain amount of money to work with, so you can't be too frivolous when it comes to sending out units. You can certainly send out a half dozen ambulances to the scene, but then you might not have enough fire trucks, and so forth. Another important issue to keep in mind is the different emergency bases you control around the city. Accidents will occur in certain parts of the city, and if you don't have a base nearby, that extra travel time could work against you. In this respect, I suppose there is some strategy to the game, but once you arrive on the scene, all strategy is thrown out the window.
The graphics in Emergency are rather simple and uninspiring. There is no 3DFX support, so there isn't a great amount of detail in the units, backgrounds or any of the terrains. Its all basic pixels, and colors aren't extremely varied either. The pyrotechnics are rather bland and all in all, the graphics department could have been better. However, for a real time strategy game, the graphics aren't poor either. They weren't unpleasant to look at, just uninspiring.
It certainly is quiet on the job. The sound is kept to a minimum in the game, with only some special effects to be heard. Like in most real time strategies, when you click on a vehicle or a unit, you'll get the obligatory "Yes Sir", "Right away Sir" type speech, but not much else outside of that. You will also hear several special effects ranging from emergency sirens, to people's voices as they writhe in pain on the ground. There is no music to be heard, and very little speech. It would have been a nice touch to have some kind of background music for the times when you aren't at the scene of an accident.
This title sports no multiplayer functions as you can well imagine. It would be hard to implement that into this particular title. Its clearly just a single player game, and nothing more. The controls of the game are fairly simple, all of which are used through the mouse. Loading up personnel, unloading personnel, giving orders, moving around on the map; are all done using the mouse. One area I couldn't understand was the fact that you can actually send out a vehicle to the scene of an accident, without any crew on board. I suppose that's a bug in the game, so when you click on a vehicle to start with, remember that even though you can move it somewhere, it doesn't mean anybody is inside.
All in all, this game was a unique experience, but wasn't memorable. It boils down to being a simple real time strategy game with a new concept, but with out dated graphics, sound, and lacking in strategy when it counts.