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Firefighting Simulator - The Squad Review

Firefighting Simulator - The Squad Review

Firefighting Simulator - The Squad is the debut title from developer Chronos Unterhaltungssoftware, which sees players taking on the role of a firefighter to tackle some rather realistic blazes. There have been numerous simulator videogames that revolve around putting out fires, and the majority weren’t great. Can this one set the world alight, or is it yet another title that should be added to the bonfire of terrible simulation games?

The premise of Firefighting Simulator - The Squad is a simple one. You and three other firefighters (either friends online or AI companions) select a mission from a sizeable map, tackling a variety of different buildings that are ablaze. That’s about all there is to it, like many other simulator games, there isn’t really any narrative to follow. There is no option to freely explore the map, or respond to random side-missions, it’s as simple as selecting a mission, and off you go. Whilst some may be disappointed by the seemingly basic nature of play, I found that it worked well and gets players straight into the action, because let’s be honest, when has a simulator title ever had an engrossing narrative to follow?

Firefighting Simulator The Squad IMG01

The majority of Firefighting Simulator - The Squad looks fine; in particular the fire and smoke effects look great, and I was surprised at how realistically the fires could spread and spiral out of control. It’s not recommended to sit and watch a fire engulf a house whilst you have a job to do, though, so you’ll need water. And lots of it. Thankfully, the water also looks quite good as it rushes out of a hose to douse those deadly flames. What isn’t so great, however, is the insane amount of texture pop in and the NPC animations. When driving to the mission location, the sheer amount of environmental assets that appear out of nowhere (almost like they’re trying to jump scare you) is baffling. Similarly, the pedestrians have the most unintentionally hilarious walking animation when they’re slightly too far away from you. Their bodies bounce up and down as their heads will barely move an inch, before properly rendering into the frame and walking more like a human, and less like a slinky with a head.

In terms of audio, the game does a good enough job of heightening tension with dramatic action music and the sounds you’d expect to hear when rushing into a building that could collapse at any moment. Your companion's quips quickly become stale, though, as they repeat the same few lines over and over again.

Firefighting Simulator The Squad IMG02

Featuring a very in-depth tutorial, Firefighting Simulator - The Squad does a great job of explaining all the mechanics and gets players acquainted with every facet of gameplay. But what does the gameplay actually consist of? After selecting a mission, you’re then given the option to drive to the scene or spawn right outside it. Although the driving physics are good — and it could be quite exciting to be speeding towards a column of smoke in the distance — there isn’t much point in taking this option. There is no benefit to driving to a location yourself, and feels like unnecessary padding, especially as many drives take far too long until you reach a destination.

Arriving at a fire is when the fun begins, and you’ll need to equip your squad with the appropriate tools for the job. Busting down doors, dousing fires, and rescuing trapped victims is an enjoyable experience when playing with friends. Unfortunately, playing solo (at least at the time of writing) is fundamentally broken. Playing with AI teammates is incredibly frustrating. Oftentimes the team will only half complete orders you give to them; for example, sending one of them to break down a door may end up with your squadmate taking a leisurely stroll to the door before standing idly by whilst the family trapped inside burns to death. Not ideal really. Stop issuing commands to them whilst they’re inside the flames, and they are more than happy to be swallowed up by the inferno until you tell them it’s time to go elsewhere.

The actual gameplay loop of breaking into the house, rescuing people, and putting out fires is rather fun for short periods of time. However, players will quickly find that there just isn’t much variety to keep them entertained for long. Dousing fires is surprisingly satisfying, and you’ll need to stay alert for any flames that may spread, leaving you trapped and potentially helpless.

Firefighting Simulator The Squad IMG03

It’s difficult to be overly critical of Firefighting Simulator - The Squad because of its budget price, but the broken teammate AI, constant pop in, and lack of variety make this a tough game to recommend. It’s a much more enjoyable title when you play with friends, but solo players should steer clear of this, at least until the AI has been reworked.

5.50/10 5½

Firefighting Simulator - The Squad (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

Fun with friends for a short time, Firefighting Simulator - The Squad quickly loses its appeal when played alone. Commanding a team of unthinking AI that seemingly ignores your orders makes for a frustrating time.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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