There have been firefighting video games for so long as there have been video video games, however for no matter purpose—and I’ll speculate on this in a second—there has by no means been a nice one. Fireplace Commander is the most recent recreation to attempt to break this duck, and whereas it doesn’t make it, I at the very least admire the way in which it tries.
Fireplace Commander was developed by Pixel Crow—bear in mind Beat Cop?—and Atomic Wolf, and was launched final week on PC, Xbox and PlayStation. It really works like a real-time ways recreation, solely as an alternative of taking pictures Nazis you’re placing out fires, and between missions there’s a complete strategic aspect of the sport that may be finest summed up as “XCOM, however with gyms for firefighters”.
I believe the principle purpose there’s by no means been an excellent firefighting recreation is as a result of, as thrilling as the topic can look on the information or in motion pictures, in actuality most fires are fought in an extremely routine method. And fireplace itself, whereas positively a hazard, simply doesn’t lend itself to being an excellent adversary in a recreation the way in which an precise enemy does. Positive it’s harmful, nevertheless it’s normally additionally sluggish, and normally you defeat it by…pointing a hose at it.
Fireplace Commander tries to get round this by abandoning any and all makes an attempt at simulation. For those who needed to get an perception into how fires are literally fought and what a day within the lifetime of a firefighter is definitely like, this isn’t the sport for you. At practically each level on this recreation, Fireplace Commander is ditching actuality within the identify of creating concessions in direction of enjoyable and strategic gameplay, and whereas that is in some methods disappointing—I used to work for NSW Fireplace & Rescue, and would like to see somebody truly get a good simulation made—in most methods it’s comprehensible, and the recreation is all the higher for it.
As I’ve mentioned, Fireplace Commander is break up into two sections. The primary, performed out between missions, has you overseeing your firehouse and roster of firefighters, and if you happen to’ve performed XCOM you already know what’s happening right here. You’ll be able to relaxation and prepare your current firefighters, recruit new ones and broaden or improve your base. It’s high-quality, and all of it works, however I by no means discovered it the problem the way in which I believe it was purported to be, since my firefighters would acquire XP so shortly that resting and changing them by no means felt as pressing because it was clearly purported to be.
Most of your time in Fireplace Commander is spent out on a mission, although, and it’s right here that issues received much more pleasurable. Having deserted any try at realism, the builders have as an alternative constructed a real-time ways recreation that’s primarily based round you selecting the correct particular person for the proper job on the proper time.
Each job you attend could have some type of time restrict on it, like a fireplace spreading to one thing explosive, or various civilians who’re at risk and have to be rescued earlier than it’s too late. Standing in your method is the hearth itself, which must be put out, but in addition various environmental challenges like locked doorways (which have to be chopped open with axes) and obstacles that may solely be overcome by a sure class of firefighter.
This class division is irritating in some ways—why can’t each firefighter use a round noticed or a pc!?!—however like I’ve mentioned, it’s one of many design concessions that was made to create a recreation out of this, and as soon as the preliminary gripe wore off and I began pondering of everybody as “techs” or “rogues”, it was high-quality.
The important thing to finishing each single mission, then, is understanding the quickest solution to obtain every goal, as a result of the longer you permit a fireplace to unfold, or an workplace employee in a room filling with smoke, the more durable your job goes to get. I hardly ever received by a job on the primary try; as an alternative it might take a number of tries, as I needed to optimise which firefighters I despatched to every nook of the map, and ensure they had been doing the proper jobs once they received there.
As soon as once more this was initially irritating, as continuously having to restart missions in a recreation that superficially had a lot in widespread with a real-time ways recreation felt like bullshit. Absolutely a recreation that had a lot in widespread with, say, Metal Division ought to be testing me all through the mission, not simply presenting me with a single puzzle firstly and leaving the remaining as much as my execution?
Begin pondering of every mission as a run, although, and it begins to make extra sense. Much less Metal Division, extra Neon White. Every mission will unfold the identical from the beginning, so a profitable job in Fireplace Commander is extra about perfecting your plan—a number of actions will be queued up at any time, even earlier than the mission begins—then executing that plan to perfection.
Once you’ve mastered what Fireplace Commander is attempting to do right here—utilizing firefighters as window dressing for a novel real-time ways expertise, relatively than simulating the job of a firefighter—it may be a extremely enjoyable. Transferring round a map taking pictures dangerous guys has been executed 1000 occasions earlier than, however coordinating a crew to include a spreading fireplace, cleansing up chemical spills and dragging unconscious civilians out of a burning restaurant (typically all of sudden) was a contemporary problem.
It’s removed from good, after all, and I don’t wish to make it sound like this can be a contender for technique recreation of the yr. Even taking its lack of realism into consideration, there are nonetheless some weird choices right here, like not letting firefighters break big home windows subsequent to locked doorways, or giving everybody a conveyable water tank as an alternative of utilizing hoses, which once more is one thing clearly designed to offer a problem (forcing you to juggle firefighters who must race again to a truck to refuel), however which in implementation is a big ache within the ass.
Most jarringly, and regardless of my total love for this “style” of European Catastrophe And Transportation Administration (if you happen to may even name it that), it’s stuffed with annoying little quirks like easy duties having to be clicked on a number of occasions, and pathfinding sending firefighters on weird journeys across the map, and typically…straight into fires. It’s a janky discipline, yet another involved (or prioritising) its nuts and bolts over its polish, and I knew this coming into it, however that doesn’t make it any much less irritating.
BUT. I’m a forgiving man in the case of these type of video games, as a result of as busted as they are often, and as unforgivable as that may be in so many different circumstances, in the case of Euro administration video games I’m prepared to miss loads, as a result of these video games are so earnest. This wide-ranging style has restricted budgets and is taking part in to a restricted viewers, so it’s unfair to anticipate the world of its video games. They’re attempting their finest, rattling it, and on this case Fireplace Commander does sufficient that’s new and fascinating that I may work previous its rougher edges.