When it comes to the simulation genre, we typically get games that have chosen to emulate one of the toughest, dirtiest, or most mundane professions on the planet. While that is certainly the case with Firefighting Simulator – The Squad, these qualities were exacerbated by bugs, glitches, and inconsistent AI, which lead to occasional frustration. When the game managed to stay out of its own way, there was fun to be had, but those moments felt fleeting.
Firefighting Simulator puts you in command of a four-man firefighting squad, with your three squad mates controlled either by the AI or by humans, should you choose. You and your squad will fight fires across a fictional town by selecting missions from a city map. Missions range from simple dumpster fires to full-on property fires where the house, the garage, and even the plant life is engulfed in flames. After choosing a mission, you’ll also select from one of six officially licensed Rosenbauer fire trucks, taking care to pick the right one for the job. You may need a ladder truck to be able to fight fire on the roof of a building, for instance. You have the option of either driving the truck to the scene yourself (with the bells and whistles of course) or simply deploying straight to the mission site, but other than increased immersion, there really is nothing keeping you from skipping straight to the fire. Sometimes you will drive half-way across town to spend 30 seconds putting out a raging camp fire, and other times you will fight a house fire for 20 minutes. Initially, I was annoyed at spending more time driving to the scene of a fire than fighting the actual fire itself, but then I remembered that firefighters actually do that. Bless them!
Each mission in Firefighting Simulator is a canned scenario, with little in the way of dynamism, which honestly I was hoping for more of. There are scripted events within the mission, however, which do add a bit of spectacle. Gas tanks will explode in a garage and living room ceilings will collapse around the fireplace, for example.
After arriving at the scene of a mission, you get to the meat of the experience, but it’s also where the game begins to trip over itself. After a squad mate does a check of the perimeter, you’ll use attack hoses to fight fire, axes to bust down doors and windows, and circular saws to cut garage door locks. The fire truck serves as your mobile tool box, storing all of the items that are essential in fighting fire and saving the lives within a structure. I enjoyed maneuvering around the truck, opening compartments, and assembling the tools I needed to get the job done, but unfortunately, this is also where I began to encounter issues. At times, I could not get hoses to attach to the truck, while other times they would only attach to certain hose hook-ups but not others, with no discernable reason as to why. I’m not a simulator rookie, either. I understand that the details matter, which is why I made sure I was attempting to attach to the correct hook-ups, still no to avail. To be fair, this didn’t happen during every mission, but it occurred often enough to be annoying.
Fighting the actual fires was enjoyable enough, and the user interface includes good indicators of where you should be aiming your hose to douse them appropriately. Firefighting Simulator also includes some fairly nice implementation of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense features. The circular saw felt especially cool to use – it was a sensation that I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of feeling before on the controller. Unfortunately, the haptic feedback and trigger functionality comes and goes, which is surely a bug. Sometimes I felt a nice “click” when activating a fire hose, but not always, for example. That was the case when using the other tools as well. Nothing game breaking, but unfortunate at the very least.
If you don’t plan to play with other humans, you’ll be relying heavily on your AI teammates to get the job done. Most of the time they do just fine, grabbing attack hoses and getting straight to work on a fire. However, I did run into issues occasionally where my teammates would walk around with a hose, but never use it, forcing me to relieve them of their duty. Sometimes if you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself, am I right? Your AI teammates also are incapable of operating a fire extinguisher, meaning that if the job ever calls for one, you can expect to be doing that task on your own.
Issuing commands to the team is also wildly inconsistent, and at times downright frustrating. At times, I sent a teammate directly into a raging fire, when what I really wanted them to do was spray water on the fire instead. In other words, controlling the AI is wonky and unreliable. For these reasons, teaming up with other humans is definitely the preferred option, in an effort to up the IQ of your squad. I was able to get in one multiplayer session (of only two in the entire world, apparently) by manually selecting it from a global list. Playing with another person was infinitely more enjoyable, as it was nice having the far more capable help for a change, but the player pool seems low.
Look, I fully understand that simulators are prolific for their “jank” – their roughness around the edges. In fact, I expect it and embrace it, but they also have to hold up their end of the bargain. They simply can’t get in their own way as much as Firefighting Simulator does. I can look past a few bugs and glitches if a game nails the essentials. In other words, I’ll pay no mind to every tree popping-in on my way to the next house fire, so long as when I get there the AI doesn’t forget that they’re a firefighter too. Unfortunately, beyond what I’ve described above, I also experienced periods of prolonged performance drops where the frame rate cratered into headache-inducing territory, audio “machine-gunning” (one sound repeating endlessly), and even one hard crash on PS5. This can all be fixed with a patch of course, and likely will, but understand that is not guaranteed.
After how much I enjoyed Police Simulator: Patrol Officers earlier this year, which is also from publisher astragon, my hopes were high for Firefighting Simulator – The Squad. It’s not a dumpster fire, but it just couldn’t manage to stay out of its own way. Decent firefighting gameplay and DualSense implementation is marred by incompetent AI and annoying bugs. If you have a high tolerance for those inconveniences, you’ll still be able to fulfill your firefighting fantasy, but go in to it fairly warned.
Firefighting Simulator – The Squad isn’t a dumpster fire, but it has a hard time staying out of its own way. Perfectly fine firefighting gameplay is smothered by annoying bugs and wildly inconsistent AI. There is enjoyment to be had, but you better gear up for inconveniences along the way.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Hello! I'm Jason, the resident noob here at Gaming Nexus. When not working my day job, I moonlight as a husband to a human and a father to two canines. Of course, I am also an avid gamer and general nerd. My favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports games, RPGs, and shooters, but I don't limit myself to those. My favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2 and I have somehow played it for nearly 1,000 hours.
My first video game system was the NES and I never looked back. I currently play on PS5, PS VR2, and PS Vita, although I've dabbled in Xbox Game Pass on PC in the past. I co-host a weekly PlayStation news podcast with a lifelong friend/family member called The Dual Sense Podcast, so I stay pretty well versed in that ecosystem. Before that, I co-hosted a basketball podcast.
Follow me on Twitter @TheDualSensePod, or check out my YouTube channel.