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Firefighters: The Simulation Review

April 28th, 2017 by

downloadFor quite some time I’ve harboured the suspicion that Si, our esteemed editor, intentionally gives me review code for stuff that looks a little ropey purely because he suspects I take some sort of perverse enjoyment from them. Here’s the thing; I do. After spending x number of hours fighting against a gaming monstrosity, there’s something particularly gratifying about unloading your angry bile onto a piece of paper.

And on that possibly related note, let’s talk about Firefighters: The Simulation.

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I’d love to start off with a positive, but there really isn’t one so we might as well jump straight into it. The realisation that this might not be particularly good strikes early doors, from the instant you start the tutorial. The graphics. My word, the graphics. When people use the old chestnut “This looks like a PS2 game” when they’re trying to denigrate the graphical prowess of a game I often think to myself that they’re forgetting what games from those eras looked like. Make no mistake, Firefighters: The Simulation does look like it managed to time travel itself from the year 2000 and somehow sneak onto the PS4 store. Every single aspect of it is jaw-droppingly, embarrassingly poor. Why are all the NPCs a good foot or so taller than me? Is my character here on a ‘bring your kids to school day’? Why are they all skating across the floor or floating in mid air as they walk? Why are they walking through geometry like some ghostly apparition? Are they actually ghosts? Are we all dead? Is that the M. Night Shyamalan twist? (No, it’s not. There is no twist. Please do not buy this thinking there’s a twist.) Even the fires look like they were knocked up by someone who’s never actually seen a fire, and instead is basing it on a description told to them by someone who doesn’t speak the same language. HOW CAN A GAME ABOUT FIRE NOT GET FIRE RIGHT? HOW?

The audio is a remarkable improvement, mainly because you can turn off the soundtrack and listen to something else. You could even choose some fire related songs, if you were so inclined. ‘Fire’, by Kasabian. ‘Burn, Baby, Burn’, by Ash, maybe. ‘Blaze Of Glory’, Bon Jovi. Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes. If you were to choose to not do this, you’d instead be subjected a midi tune so repetitive that popping your eardrums with the nearest sharp implement would be considered a sweet relief. There’s absolutely no voice acting, which seems a bit odd considering people do semi-regularly speak to you to give instructions. Sound effects don’t fare much better, either. Vehicles don’t have any acceleration effects, instead just constantly giving the sound of an engine idling. There’s zero effects during a collision too, so driving head first at full pelt into a wall gives absolutely no audio feedback.

There’s a stunning lack of care and attention throughout, no more apparent that when you’re pottering about in your vehicle. Want to drive up a hill? Not happening. You can get halfway up, but then momentum fails and you suddenly stop dead. Gravity does not take over, and instead you’re just stuck there, unable to move, as if in some form of vehicular purgatory. Dividers that line the road are easy to clip through but doing so, as can be seen in the dying moments of the above video, leave your vehicle frozen to the spot, with the divider protruding through. When either of these happen you’re pretty much doomed, because there’s no way to reset your vehicle. This lack of care is never more apparent than when changing the camera views. The third person view when driving moves the camera directly behind your car, obscuring everything else. It absolutely baffles me that this could have shipped. Did anyone bother to check if it even worked?

You may be thinking that the gameplay could make up for the shoddy presentation, and you’d be dead, dead wrong. Your first day involves driving around in what amounts to a transit van that contains a couple of extinguishers and a robot. You’ll aimlessly potter about for a while, until an ‘emergency’ call comes in. I say emergency in the loosest form of the word, because when you turn up there’s a plastic bag with a couple of flames out the top, the sort of fire that could have been put out if you tossed a Ribena carton at it. None the less, you put it out with an extinguisher and the mission is done, complete with a jarring shift back to the aforementioned midi tune. After that, it’s back to pottering about until another call comes in, this time for something as exciting as a gently smouldering cardboard box. If you’re lucky, you may get a spilled barrel of an unidentified substance, for which you get to use the robot. Slight issue, none of the tutorial explains what you’re supposed to do during this incident, so you pretty much spend the next three minutes trying to figure out what you should be doing.

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After a while of this your shift is over, and you’re presented with a merciful opportunity to save and take in the full horror of what you’ve just endured. Upon returning you discover that you can’t move up to the bigger vehicles, such as a proper fire engine, until you’ve amassed enough XP to move up a level, none of which has been mentioned or even hinted at previously. Back out on the road you go, with your Transit van and extinguishers and your robot, and now I think about it, it seems a bit odd that they’re giving me, a lowly man who’s only entrusted to put out garbage bag fires, with an actual robot, but that’s the least of my concerns by this point.

Let’s skip forwards a few in-game days to where you’re allowed to play with the big boy toys and, I’ll be honest, it’s still utterly dire. The engines aren’t any more fun to drive, they still handle like shopping trolleys with a knackered wheel, and you do get access to more activities, like rescuing people, but by this point every ounce of happiness has been drained from your soul. Genuinely, I recently had biopsies taken from my colon and it was a considerably more fun experience that this game.

I’ll cut to the chase; Firefighters: The Simulation is, without any doubt, the worst thing I’ve ever played. It’s so bad, so painfully bad, so devoid of any positives, that I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the proof that surely God cannot exist, because if God did exist he would ensure that such an awful thing would never have come to pass. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about the game that makes this worthy of a purchase, unless it was for a torture implement for someone that you really, really, hated.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 0/10     Format:  Steam / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One      Release Date: Out Now

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Firefighters: the Simulation for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 days .

 

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