Emergency Fire Response


posted 9/3/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
The thought of controlling firefighters and putting out the beast that feeds on oxygen sounds intriguing. Monte Cristo has taken this idea and turned it into a real time strategy game. Emergency Fire Response looks to capture the frantic action of controlling a blaze while rescuing victims and important objects.

Emergency Fire Response is a full 3D real time strategy game that lets you take part in ten levels with three to four missions per level. You’ll have a host of vehicles and specialists to control and utilize. Using each strategically having them fight certain parts of the fire is essential as you’ll have to prioritize certain areas to accomplish your goals. Do you sacrifice the important documents to rescue an unconscious victim in a room? Or do you think can’t get to the person in time and sacrifice the victim for the other objectives? Emergency Fire Response will put you in such situations and many more when going through the game.

Before each mission, you’ll be shown a prelude that includes some real time rendering of the events leading up to the fire. The prelude will give you some advance warning of what you’re going to face and have to save. You’ll take part in saving a couple actors or rescuing some bank robbers to name a few. After the quick intro you are thrown to the fire. The missions offer some good variety instead of just putting out fires. You’ll be asked to save some important items that can be a clue to a case for arson or save a vehicle from being consumed by the flames.

The full 3D engine allows you to rotate the camera and also zoom in and out. A nice touch that Monte Cristo did was that you could select victims that are obstructed by obstacles without having to position the camera for a clear view. A glowing depiction of the victim appears behind walls and objects. This makes it a lot easier and you don’t spend time fighting the camera to get a good view of the victim to save. And you don’t want to spend time fighting the camera because the game can be rather hectic. Fires can rage out of control pretty quickly and you’ll have to strategically place the fighters in good areas to try and keep them contained.

Because of the hectic nature of the game, it can get easily frustrating with the inconsistent AI. While for the most part the fighters do well in continuing to fight parts of the flame that are connected, I have experienced a few times where the firefighter would put out a part of the fire and just stand there when the blaze continues to grow around them. They’ll also step into the fire every once in a while even though you specifically tell them to start at the edge of it. If the AI would take a more proactive approach instead this would’ve made the game a lot less frustrating in the long run.

With the active nature of the fire, you’ll be scrolling around a lot trying to keep your firemen out of danger and to make sure everyone’s doing something. Luckily, the icons of your firemen at the bottom have a question mark on the ones that aren’t doing anything. The overlays on the icons help easily identify what the firemen are doing or what’s happening to them. If one’s engulfed by flames, you’ll see fire on the bottom of their picture. I would’ve liked to have some indication of what grouping the fireman is though such as a number in the corner. Without it, or any indication on the character itself, you don’t know who’s in what group.

You’ll also want to be careful of where you place your men as there are environmental effects that can put your men in danger or a quick death. Barrels can explode or glass ceilings can come crashing down on you doing serious damage. I had one fireman strolling up to put out some flames and failed to notice a stack of explosive barrels near him. Next thing I know, they explode and take out my guy.
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