I picked up Emergency 3 because Iíd been looking at a different title with the same sort of game play and it sounded appealing to me. As an older title, and based on the screen shots here, I wasnít assuming the most.
I was very happily surprised by this game. The graphics are much nicer then the screens here would lead you to expect, the game play is fun, often a bit tense, sometimes exacerbating, but all around pretty solid. It requires a lot of the same thinking and on your feet quick responses that many of the more traditional RTS titles would provide, but with a totally different dynamic and goal set, as well as a complete different mentality during a mission. At this point in the game play, Iíve actually found myself concerned in fairly real ways about developments mid missionÖ. For example, if combating a fire, you may very well have cut away some trees near a burning structure, but you donít ever know if youíve cut back enough, or if the fire is going to progress in a different direction then you had expected.
So far the biggest conís Iíve encountered are some of the UI features, and a few mechanical decisions on the game designerís part. In the case of the UI my big grip is that it is difficult to get all the personnel associated with a particular response unit up and running doing the task that you want them too. There arenít a lot of good keystroke options I can see to hotkey things. Mechanically, this problem is compound by the way task assignment works. You have to set up the personnel to do a given job by ordering them to the equipment carrying unit, have them select the equipment to use, then go do their job, sometimes, such as in the base of burning trees, you might have to micromanage here to get good effects too. Another mechanical issue that wears on you is vehicle deployment. When a piece of rescue equipment is deployed, it enters the map VERY VERY FAR away from the action. You get three hot buttoned locations, and you will quickly discover you are using one of them for the entry area of the vehicles so you can get them to the action quickly. Once there if you want to do things like deploy them in a specific orientation, to do things like use flood lamps, they often seem to needlessly turn around.
Cons considered, I still gave this game 5 stars. For the price, itís a really fun time, it has an endless play mode, built in mod support, and a novel game concept. The graphics are really pretty good for the age of the game, it runs well on low end machines (I have it installed on my budget laptop), and is DMR free so you donít have to mess with all that junk. In some ways, the cons actually help the game play so far, as they make you feel like you are on site, managing the crisis, and they keep the tension high. I wouldnít pass up on this game if the game premise sounds remotely appealing to you!