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Firefighting Simulator: The Squad – Review

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Astragon entertainment have got a pretty good flow of high-quality simulation games, already bringing us Construction Simulator followed by Police Simulator: Patrol Officers in the last 3-4 months, each where the best sims in their sub-genre (by quite a margin) so we have high hopes for Firefighting Simulator.

Unlike many simulators, there’s no character customisation and instead, you’re thrown into the uniform of a fireman, who never removes his gas mask, you’ve also got identical looking AI partners called, Jack, Tom and Bill, but the less you know about those the better (we’ll get to that later).

You do get to select which vehicle you’re taking out, but you’ll have to do quite a few missions to unlock them.
Your first half an hour with the game is learning the ropes, the introductions really straight forward, but I highly recommend heading to the optional tutorial missions which explain things a little clearer.

Soon enough you’ll have free reign to attack fires across the city, the map shows you which jobs are available or complete and you’ll also get random jobs open back up to give you more choice as you progress.

On each mission, you’ll have your squad with you, and this is the weak point of Firefighting Simulator, because in short, they’re pretty useless, I found myself constantly mothering them, telling them where to go, what to do and wiping their backside afterwards, because otherwise they’ll sometimes plug in a supply line, or a single attack hose, but more often than not they stand around like an innocent bystander.

Thankfully there’s a range of options for directing your colleagues mostly attached to the D-pad for directing an individual or the whole squad, I’m not sure if I missed something, but I would have loved to have one guy sort out the water supply, another does a 360 sweep of the area and a third start preparing the red attack hoses for fighting the fire.
Instead, I was often doing all of the above, and then tapping an individual’s direction if I found a survivor who needed rescuing (as the AI would go to collect and move them to the awaiting ambulance).

Once the premises was secure and I’d knocked out any windows or broken any doors down, I’d then point them to a fire (usually out of my way), but I just wish they had a few more braincells between them and could do something themselves if not prompted by me.

Thankfully there’s a big saving grace called Co-op, and each of your colleagues can be replaced by another player, I tried this for many hours with Colin and Vicki and maybe it’s just having great team mates, but I found this far easier to play co-operatively than titles like Construction Simulator, which always felt like a struggle.
You can also open the game to random online players, which I’m sure will be the go-to option when playing alone, but sadly there’s a few teething problems at launch, so that doesn’t always work.

Working through the missions you’ll come across a wide range of fires, from a small bin fire in a park to large multi-storey buildings. After a few hours you’re likely to start facing dynamic challenges, such as the bungalow with a burning chimney, which collapsed and almost crushed me.
There are various other dangers, such as electricity which can spark and reignite a fire, requiring you to disable the fuse box, or oil fires which will need to be attacked using the foam fire extinguishers and not the water based hoses.

In all there’s a good variation, it is a little annoying when some jobs take longer to drive to than to complete, but these are few and far between and the further you progress the more difficult and time-consuming firefights you’ll come across.

And a fight is the appropriate word. So many firefighting games in the past have become as simple as pointing your hose at the flames and away they go, with Firefighting Simulator: The Squad, you actually feel like you’re fighting against the flames, leave them too long and they’ll spread, concentrate on the roof and by the time you’ve extinguished the floor, and walls, the roof will be alight once again, and when you add in dynamic events like collapsing walls, it makes Firefighting Simulator once of the most fun to play and rewarding simulation games.

Graphically, there’s more than a few things to like and dislike, using the exact same character model for all of the squad is lazy, there’s a little pop-in at times, and civilians will occasionally bounce gleefully down the street like Mr Soft from the old Trebor adverts, even though there’s a building full of people burning to the ground right behind them.
However, graphically it’s fairly well detailed, runs perfectly smoothly (tested on both Series X and Series S), the fire effects, and building destruction works really well, and while not “next-gen” it’s above average when compared to the vast majority of simulation games.

Audio has a few more weaknesses, with near pointless background music, sirens that seem a little too loud and the constantly similar rumble of flames, but there’s at least plenty of sliders in the options to get your preferred balance.
Playing co-operative, I mostly had the sound a little lower and concentrated on party chat, which was always friendly and bubbly, thanks to the awesome teammates, but also because I think everyone felt like they were an important part of the team with plenty to do. (Except maybe that bin fire, which was sorted with a single fire extinguisher).

Overall there’s about 50 missions to tackle leading to a good 25-30+ hours of gameplay, which for the £24.99 asking price is fantastic value, It’s fun for up to 4 players, and a challenging and rewarding experience without being too tough. AI is a little weak, and there’s those early server issues in matchmaking, but Firefighting Simulator is already a fantastic simulation experience and with a few post-launch tweaks, could be approaching games like Lawn Mowing Sim and Power Wash Simulator as one of my favorite titles in the genre.

Firefighting Simulator: The Squad

Review by Lee Palmer



Firefighting Simulator is already a fantastic simulation experience and with a few post-launch tweaks, could be approaching games like Lawn Mowing Sim and Power Wash Simulator as one of my favorite titles in the genre.