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 Emergency 4: Global Fighters for Life 
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Post Emergency 4: Global Fighters for Life
Emergency 4: Global Fighters for Life
by: Sandra Prior

When the fourth iteration of a German franchise you've never heard of lands on your desk unexpectedly, nine times out of five it's going to be rubbish. A cursory glance at the quite unbelievably bad cover, replete with a model-shot straight out of Playgirl, should've had this consigned straight to the grinty games' graveyard. Luckily, despite the fractured English on the back, the screenshots alone gave me pause. Lucky because this is actually a flawed gem of a game.

The premise lends itself perfectly to the real-time strategy game; you are the coordinator for all the emergency services in a particular section of the Western world. With a mix of police, ambulance and fire services, you can take the game anywhere and the twenty missions of the main campaign do just that.

Your stint in command will have you tackling incidents ranging from an accident at a monster truck jam, through terrorist attacks and drug raids to a final massive earthquake.

The game's hub though is your main city where you earn credits through taking care of the odd everyday incident. These can then be spent on new equipment, which in turn triggers one of the campaign missions. At first, these incidents are very minor, but as you progress require more and more complex mixes of emergency crew.

Basically, it's Tonka toy town mixed with Casualty and a bit of just about every disaster movie you can possibly think of. Playing through the campaign in the office I couldn't help the odd 'nee-naw' escaping my lips every time I sent my water bowser in to douse the flames. Even when things are going horribly wrong and a derailed train carriage is floating directly at the rescue boat trying to pull survivors out of the mess left behind by a broken dam, or a fire is raging out of control and blowing up parked cars and fire engines, there was always a grin on my face.

It's by no means perfect though; the game engine, while being sturdy and functional, rarely goes beyond that. The animation and pathfinding can be a bit ropey too, and I'm still trying to forget about the phoned-in, voice-acting with its constant repetition of a few stock phrases. But it's great fun, especially being above the law and engaging in a bit of offhand police brutality (sorely underutilized as a game mechanic since SWAT4) when you feel like a change of pace. I often decided to send along a couple of officers to accompany my ambulance or fire appliance simply to shoot/arrest anyone within ten feet of the incident. So there's an air of realism about it too.

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Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:18 pm
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