Simulation games are clearly all the rage with popular titles like Farming Simulator and even more light hearted Surgeon Simulator hitting targets no-one expected and there seems to be a simulation game for everything nowadays. Not that I’m complaining because I love a good simulation game, I grew up with games like Theme Park and Theme Hospital, so when I had the chance to play Rescue 2013 I jumped at the chance.
Rescue 2013 is primarily a Fire and Rescue simulator where you’re the manager of a fire station. You’re required to hire, fire, train, and issue orders to a crew of firefighters and paramedics whenever there’s an emergency. From the outside it seems like a fun and entertaining little game, but when you take a second to look at it a little deeply, you realise that it’s actually quite a dark game.
The game begins fairly simply, you take over this local fire station and you’re required to hire some fire fighters. To begin with you’re given a fairly basic pump and are taken through what each part of the fire station does. At this moment in time the alert mode is off. Your fire station comes equipped with various different rooms which seem ordinary but each have their own specific properties, the Canteen provides much needed morale to your crew, the maintenance room keeps your gear in working order, and the gym improves your crews performance which makes them faster when carrying things in the field.
Because your alert mode is off you won’t be called out to any jobs so you’re free to train up your crew for as long as you want, however time doesn’t stop so when the weekly budget report comes around and you haven’t done any jobs you’ll most likely be in the red. Budget is also a big thing in this game, you’re required to make profits otherwise you’re done.
Whilst at the station you’re free to add in any equipment you see fit. At the very beginning rooms such as the Gym and the Study Room are empty so you’re required to kit out each room with the required equipment. The layout of the station as well as the way you place items reminds me a lot of Theme Hospital which felt comfortable for me making me feel right at home.
So, whack yourself into Alert Mode and you’ll be left scratching your ass for a few minutes until the incredibly loud klaxon goes off (seriously, make sure your volume isn’t left up too high) and you’re taken to the briefing screen. This screen tells you about the job, most probably a dumpster fire at this stage of the game, how may crew it requires, and how long you have to complete the job.
This is where the fun/frustration begins. You begin the mission loaded into the pump and you’re required to get to the scene as quick as you can and deal with the emergency. This is when it turns into more of an RTS than a simulation. Once you arrive you can kick your crew out of the pump and get to work issuing orders to your team. Depending on the location of the fire you can use the pump itself to put the fire out, but it doesn’t have a lot of water so keep an eye out for hydrants.
This game is all about routine. You need to know what goes where, who controls what, and what order things need to be done. With a bit of trial and error you can work out how to do what, but I would advise reading the instructions. So out dumpster fire is seemingly out of control and you’ve tossed your crew out of the pump, what now? Well you need to get one crew member to grab the coupler and take it to the hydrant, once you’ve done that you’ll need to take the coupler as far as you can whilst at the same time ordering another crew member to get out one of the main hoses, once the other crew member drops the coupler you can attach the main hose and begin putting out the fire.
If that’s the only fire to put out, congratulations you’ve completed your first mission. If there’s multiple fires be prepared to start shouting at the screen. This is where routine comes into play. You need to get everything packed away as quick as possible, first the main hose needs to be uncoupled and packed back into the pump, next you take the coupler and take it off the hydrant and load that back into the pump, then you must load everyone back into the fire engine and race to the next fire.
This all sounds pretty easy right? Well it’s not. More often than not one of your crew members will end up underneath the pump for no reason what so ever, in order to select the chap you’ll have to select the pump and move it away a little in order for him to be exposed so you can click on him. Also the click mechanics are frustrating as hell. Because you’re in control of one unit at a time you’ll find that you’re right clicking, left clicking, dragging, and dropping a hell of a lot and it becomes fairly difficult to remember who you’ve selected so I found that I’m often sending units all over the place when I’m only trying to move one guy out of the way.
Fire fighting is only half of the game, the more you progress and level up you’ll gain access to paramedics and ambulance crews. This, unfortunately is when the game begins to get pretty dark. No one likes death, and that’s usually what you’ll be faced with then you’re required to send out the ambulance crew.
At first you’ll go to a simple accident such as someone accidentally drowning, you’re required to check the status of the patient and get them to hospital as soon as you can. Checking the status issues the patient with a colour; Green is stable, Yellow is deteriorating, Red is urgent, and Purple is critical. Once you’ve checked the patient it’s probably best to get the most severe injuries to hospital first, you grab a stretcher, take it to the patient, grab another unit and lift them to the ambulance then send the ambulance on it’s way – one problem though – the patients status deteriorates over time so as the ambulance is whisking itself off to hospital you’re left with a patient that’s essentially dying. This problem can be solved by grabbing a medical kit out of the ambulance before you send it away to treat the patient and up their status – but this takes time and when there’s only 60 seconds left on the clock you can sometimes overlook this issue.
The more alerts you complete the more complex the missions become where you’re required to take control of not only the fire service, but paramedics too. This is when you begin to get some pretty morbid scenes such as RTA’s and larger house fires which involve casualties. Obviously as a simulation game I expected things like this to be a part of the game and overall they’re actually really complex and fun to play – but it does give you a sense of realisation as to what the emergency services do on a daily basis.
The game is incredibly immersive, addictive, and difficult. The time limits allocated to each alert give’s you only a few seconds of extra time and more often than not you’ll be a second or two away from completing the mission only to run out of time. The game is also incredibly complex with an impressive learning curve so you’re never out of your depth.
After each mission you’re rewarded with cash, this cash sum will be effected however if you let a patient slip into a critical state or you request back-up whilst on a mission. Requesting back up does nothing more than ask for another unit to come along and help, though you’re required to do all of the leg work. The more missions you complete the better your budget report will be at the end of each week/month.
Rescue 2013 is also incredibly in depth giving you missions with varied difficulties ranging from simple construction accidents, to trash can fires, to warehouse fires. You can also enter buildings in order to put out fires which is a nice touch and adds more realism to the game because at times the city does feel a little cardboard.
My only other issue with the game is that it’s tried to throw in relatable things to people from different regions – all of the crew members seem to have quite European names, but the game uses words like dumpster, there’s also the use of red fire hydrants, and finally the crew members reply with “affirmative” or “I am unable to do that” in fairly British accents. This isn’t something that would turn me off the game, but it’s a little strange to see features from the US appear in a game that feels European with a British fire fighter accepting orders.
Overall I feel that I’ve only really touched upon half of what this game has to offer because it’s so complex, but I believe what I’ve experienced is an integral part of what the game involves and hopefully is enough for you to reserve judgement on whether the game is worth your cash. It’s intense, fun, and exciting but at the same time it’s frustrating, difficult, and requires time putting into it in order to progress.