Emergency 2012 is quickly turning into a cult classic, escaping the attention of the mainstream gaming audience. The real time strategy simulator puts you in control of the emergency services as you try to save people from a plethora of of natural disasters, tragic accidents and terrorist threats.
The game is displayed from a top down viewpoint and you get control of various emergency forces, such as Paramedics, Engineers, Firemen and Policemen. Each of these categories have specialist abilities and weaknesses which you need to use to be successful in the missions.
Engineers are useful to help rescue people from damaged vehicles for instance while a paramedic obviously is skilled to help with injured civilians. Policemen are integral to the overall success of many missions as they can guide civilians to safety and take charge of the situation.
The missions are fun and work generally very well considering the unusual strategy style the game follows. Gameplay is about multitasking, and balancing various situations that are happening on the map area at any given time. Like other strategy games you can click and drag units and group them for quicker movement.
Sending a fire engine to a fire for instance is an obvious choice (doh) you should make as soon as possible, otherwise things can quickly get out of hand. If you don’t react fast enough to the more volatile issues then you will be penalised as many innocent people burn to death or get crushed.
The game starts out easy enough, with a slow pacing to get gamers used to the methodology of sending various units to emergency situations. The game then quickly advances into hurling more at the player, for instance there will be times when a fire will start and all your firemen are in other locations. How will you deal with it? pull emergency rescue staff away from other areas and let people die? Chaos quickly ensues, which is a key part to enjoying the game.
The game isn’t quite a simple as it sounds, and as you get further into the action then you are given more tactics to deal with given situations, such as setting up road blocks to stop traffic, or even calling in rescue dogs to assist with tricky accidents.
If you are an experienced strategy player then I doubt you will even need the tutorials, but they are worth playing through as some of the tactics might not be that apparent at first glance, even to expert strategy gamers.
Why this game scores so highly however is due to the computer AI. I don’t often say it, but the units respond intelligently to your commands, not getting stuck in objects or wandering around in circles trying to work out what you need done. Sending in helicopters and drones later adds a really nice twist to the proceedings. Civilians aren’t always on your side too, some of them will riot and cause problems, so you need to fire stun grenades to get them to disperse without causing fatalities.
The game is very story driven and it works well to pull the gamer into the action. Cut scenes are entertaining to watch and set the next level up before you jump in and work out a strategy plan to win. Overall the interface is intuitive and the AI is good – well apart from the civilian movement which seems wrong in some of the missions. Buildings can be blazing in front of civilians who perhaps feel it is a good time to toast some marshmallows rather than running for their lives. Sure, it sounds like a small point, but any feeling of chaos and drama can be ruined if you see the civilians standing around like lemmings waiting to get fried.
Graphically, the game is a little above average. The engine is smooth enough and won’t trouble any modern hardware, but equally so those of you who demand cutting edge textures and graphics will be sorely disappointed with the overall impact the game makes on a visual level.
Once the main missions are beaten, there is an online four player cooperative and free play mode to add value to the package. My friends enjoyed heading online for a session after work. Community mods are also being offered to help extend the playable life of the title.
Overall I found Emergency 2012 a fun title which kept me coming back for more, even with the faults mentioned in this review. I have been playing it for the last week and it is a really entertaining game. If you hate strategy games however or want a cutting edge graphically powered title to challenge your GTX580 SLI system then look elsewhere.