Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is a multiplayer simulation title published by astragon. The premise is that you play as a firefighter going from one job to the next, extinguishing fires, rescuing people from their houses, and… that’s about it.
The game opens with you arriving at the scene of a fire. The game sort of teaches you how to put out fires with the help of your NPC teammates. Once you get through that, then the training opens. It was almost as if the beginning was giving you a little teaser of what the game would be like. The training is optional, but I did it anyway to learn the controls.
The controls are simple. It’s pretty much just pressing and holding the Y or ZR buttons when you want to pick something up, drop something, use the hose, break a door down, etc. You move your character with the left analog stick and have full control over the camera with the right analog stick.
However, the training took about an hour to get through. It’s broken into mini-levels that you can pick and choose from in any order. One training involves hooking up your hose and using it, another is how to use the ladder on the truck, one is about using different tools, such as an ax, to break down doors or windows. But the training also taught about different fires – regular fires can be put out with water, but grease or chemical fires needed the extinguisher. Electrical fires will reignite if you don’t turn off the power first.
It sounds like there’s a lot to this title, right? Technically, yes, there is. But again, all the controls are more or less the same, which makes the actual gameplay repetitive. It didn’t matter what I was doing in the game, I mindlessly pressed the same buttons. I only needed to ensure I had the correct tool in my hand.
When completing a level, you earn experience points based on how fast you put out the fires. As you level up, you’ll get access to different fire trucks. Although, I preferred the original truck you start with because I knew where everything was inside. Also, after completing a level, two or three more will open up. You have free reign on the map and can go to any level you want, as long as it’s unlocked based on your experience points. You can also redo the levels as many times as you want.
When going into a level, you have the choice to deploy on scene or drive to the scene yourself. I always deployed on scene because the one time I tried driving to the scene, it took me 15 real-life minutes to do so. I crashed into so many cars to the point that the other firefighters in my truck would yell at me. It was stressful and I was so thankful the game allowed the driving portion to be optional. The thing is, the controls weren’t bad when driving, I think I’m just bad at it. I’m used to using motion controls for Mario Kart, so I had zero control driving a virtual truck with the analog stick.
Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is an online multiplayer game for up to four people. The thing is, no one was ever online when I was. The game would search for a bit and then boot me out. Honestly, I was okay with that because I don’t think I would have had fun playing online with others, not without communicating with each other.
Since I played alone, I always had three NPCs with me for each level. I was able to give them orders or they could do what they felt they needed to do. This mechanic is hit or miss for a few reasons.
One, the AI got stupider as the levels got more complicated. The earlier levels have you extinguish a fire and save one or two victims. At the start of the level, the AI would automatically hook up the hoses and begin defusing the fire. When there was more to do – more victims, bigger fires, electricity to turn off, etc. – they’d get out of the truck and stand in the middle of the street.
And two, I spent the levels ordering around the NPCs rather than actually doing any of the work myself. Go team? It ended up being incredibly unbalanced, with either me doing all the work and taking a while to get through the levels, or ordering the three NPCs around just for me to stand there and do nothing.
Luckily, the levels aren’t long at all. I think the longest level was roughly 20 minutes for me and that was because I couldn’t find the electricity to turn off. However, because they aren’t long and there are roughly 40 levels, Firefighting Simulator – The Squad isn’t too long of a game. I got through most of the levels within a handful of hours. (I say most because I skipped all the levels that needed me to use the truck’s ladder; I couldn’t control that thing, either.)
Finally, the sound effects of the truck’s sirens and horn, the voice acting of the firefighters, and the ambient sounds of the fire burning, were excellent. Despite a virtual house burning down, I would totally put the game on as background ASMR sounds for the fire alone.
Despite how short the game is and how repetitive the gameplay was, I can see myself playing this title from time to time. Putting out the fires was satisfying and the game played well for the most part. It is a bit unbalanced, but it works.