Date: April 14, 2003
Genre: Disaster Simulation
Publisher: Arush Entertainment
Developer: Sixteen Tons Entertainment
In a time of constant global conflict, the people who work in emergency services are put to the test time and time again. These noble, valiant souls are trained to deal with the worst possible scenarios and keep the world turning as the rest of the planet sleeps. These heroes are role models for young children, as they want to grow up to be firefighters, police officers, and doctors. Sixteen Tons Entertainment had brought the world’s emergency services to the PC with their 1998 worldwide hit, Emergency. The hardest job in the world is to create a successful sequel … has Emergency 2 managed to maintain the original spark?
With a 25-mission campaign, a reworked graphics engine, and smooth gameplay, Emergency 2 has all the components that could make this a great sequel. At first glance, this game isn’t really an eye catcher, but after a short installation and tutorial, you become quite immersed in the game. It was not very hard to pick up, taking no more than 30 minutes to become a competent emergency department head. The 25 levels in the campaign were a pleasant surprise, since the current gaming trend is to offer fewer missions. The objectives in each of these levels are quite diverse, ranging from a fire on a nuclear submarine to a volcanic eruption.
The game offers quite a variety of options, which is what makes the game so much fun, as the player actually feels like he is controlling and managing the unfolding events. The missions would be impossible without the many emergency vehicles available to you. The player is given access to the area’s entire emergency department, with over 30 different units to choose from. The units are broken into four simple groups: fire, police, hospital, and miscellaneous (tow trucks, red unmarked cars, etc.). As far as the rest are concerned, there are helicopters, more fire trucks than you could possibly imagine, ambulances, and even armored police vehicles.
Even on the easiest skill levels the game can be tiresome at times, and certain missions may require replays. The ability to skip certain levels and move on without having to cheat would have been nice option. The tedious missions keep us playing longer than we usually would, as we are driven by an indescribable force to complete tasks. In a way, the tedium is a pain but at the same time, it’s great to have a longer game.
In addition to the vehicle options, the variety of missions also brings great diversity to Emergency 2. Each of the game’s levels has objectives that completely differ from the others so you won’t have to worry about having to solve the same problem twice. The first few missions are simple tasks such as stopping a terrorist, cleaning up a severe car accident, and dealing with a train crash. As the game progresses, however, the objectives become more involved and more difficult to complete. Later in the game, the player must deal with a burning nuclear missile submarine, a crashed passenger plane and a nuclear power plant meltdown. There is enough variety in this game to satisfy even the most rabid of disaster junkies. If those objectives were not enough, there is always the big finale at the end of the game, which promises to provide gamers with at least an hour of gameplay.
From a visual standpoint, this game was actually quite disappointing, barely gaining ground on the graphics from the original game from 1998. The dated visuals used in Emergency 2 were enough to seriously hurt this game and even deter people from buying the game altogether. In a time when 3D visuals are essential, second best isn’t good enough, and the game developers cannot afford to use graphics that were obsolete two years ago. At first glance, the game looks pretty crisp, but after zoomed in once or twice, the images become quite pixilated.
To add insult to injury, the animations in the game are quite lousy as well. The vehicles sort of slide around the map while the people walking are nothing special. It is as if the developers spent the entire time focusing on the gameplay and left the visual portion of the game out to dry. That is understandable, seeing as it’s all about the gameplay these days, but this game has a lot going for it, and it’s a shame to see it lose a lot of its potential in the visuals.
One very pleasing aspect of the graphics engine for Emergency 2 is its use in creating cut scenes. Although not quite perfect, the cut scenes are still nice eye candy. Each mission contains a cut scene, with each scene showing the accident occurring. It is like having your own disaster movie at your fingertips.
The audio in Emergency 2 was nice enough. Although I found the emergency vehicle sirens to be rather annoying, the game’s environmental sounds were generally quite well done. In a game like this, the sounds aren’t a key part of the game. In the long run, it appears that the developers put just the right amount of effort into their sounds to turn out quality the audio that the game sports in the public release.
Although it suffered from dated graphics, Emergency 2 was quite a pleasant surprise, sporting its numerous vehicles, and diverse collection of levels. Not at all a fault in the game itself, but the lack of publicity truly hurt this game, for it could have been a hit, given the advertisement that bigger budget titles receive (think Unreal II and IGI 2). Sixteen Tons Entertainment did a fine job of releasing a fun, long disaster simulation that is sure to please gamers that are looking for a strong disaster sim. Emergency 2 is stuck in an uphill battle, as it is competition with games like Sim City 4 and Command & Conquer: Generals. In a world were the little guy can come out the winner, Emergency 2 is David, and he has his work cut out for him fighting Goliath.
Score: 7.5 / 10