Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Firefighting Simulator: The Squad by developer Chronos Unterhaltungssoftware:
Firefighting Simulator: The Squad (The Explanation)
Firefighter Simulator – The Squad came out in 2020 on Steam and later on Xbox and PS systems. The game has finally arrived on Nintendo Switch for simulation fans who want to experience fighting fires and saving potential victims. When starting up the game, I recommend first going through the game’s tutorial, which will teach you various aspects of fighting fires, driving, commanding your squad, and more.
The first thing you will notice in booting up the game is that the Switch port lacks a bit of polish in terms of graphics and in-game visuals. As I drove along the road of the town of the introduction the heaviest “fog” was overwhelming, as the game’s draw distance was severely lacking. It would seem that the Switch can only handle houses on the main street as the second row of houses and beyond was shadowed in overcast. Along with the game world’s “fog of war”, the rest of the world lacks overall texture and most of the game seems to be smeared in the notorious Vaseline that plagues other ports to the system.
In the opening level I was thrust right into the gameplay, which was welcoming, but at the same time seemed to barely teach me how to play. Firefighter Simulator – The Squad is also a bit persnickety with its controls and interactions as well. The game shines as a PC game where you can point and click on things with your mouse, but because of the Switch’s input controls and the game not really being refined to accommodate controller movement, some interactions are particularly tedious to manage.
After entering the house in the introduction, I was asked to break open a door to a room and pick up a victim in a smoke-filled space. The simple act of picking up a halligan on the floor and breaking open the door. To pick up an item you have to move the camera in such a way that allows you to hover near it and select it. Because the area of detection is so small and the pressure to save people and stop the fire is high, having the item selection cumbersome slows things down and can be frustrating.
In Firefighter Simulator – The Squad you will also need to put out fires, no kidding. The way you do this is to pick up a hose either off the ground or from the firetruck’s storage compartments. Speaking of firetruck storage compartments, when arriving at a scene you will need to unravel hoses, attach them to the truck, grab a nozzle, and attach that to your hose. Just like grabbing the halligan off the ground, attaching and grabbing all of those pieces of equipment can prove to be a challenge as well.
After doing the opening mission, I would recommend going through the tutorials in the game. They are very helpful in showing you how to assess fires, enter buildings, put out flames, use various tools, and more. You will learn how to open and enter buildings through windows, scale walls and ladders, learn about backdrafts, and operate a ladder truck among other tasks. During the tutorials, an instructor will teach you the basic steps and order you around.
The squad portion of the game’s title is an important part of the success of your missions. You can tell AI to follow you, stand by, and even pick up tools to enter buildings, open doors and windows, and equip hoses to help put out fires. The AI wasn’t the worst that I have seen in games, but there were definitely some instances when I needed help from the AI but the controls weren’t as snappy or intuitive in how to control your squadmates. In my EXPlay video, you will see me try and tell a teammate to put out a fire and he would just walk back and forth not listening to me.
Once you are done with the tutorials you can take on a variety of missions each that have objectives to meet. You can opt to either drive to the mission or go directly to it. While you get more points by driving to the site the overall appeal of driving and going around traffic was not that great so I ended up skipping as much driving as I could.
As a fan of simulation games, I really wanted to like Firefighter Simulator – The Squad. Overall I think there are a lot of great parts to the game, but the lack of polish, finicky controls, and poor AI keep this game from being great. With an update, this game could be better and a great addition to the library of any sim fans. Until then, I would wait on this game and keep an eye out for either a price drop or a patch that fixes some of the issues I have with the gameplay and graphics.
Firefighting Simulator: The Squad (The Gameplay)
Developer: Chronos Unterhaltungssoftware
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Multiplayer, Simulation
No. of Players: 1 (Single System) 1-4 (Online)
Release Date: NA|EU: September 28, 2023
File Size: 1.6 GB