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ER

Score: 83%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Legacy Interactive
Developer: Legacy Interactive
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Any show that lasts as long as "ER" has is almost certain to raise the question, “Should we make a video game?”, and as strange as the idea of an ER game might sound, ER from Legacy Interactive is an interesting take on a “hospital simulation” game.

Graphics are not ER’s biggest feature, nor are they a major selling point. The game has just one environment, the hospital, and the game doesn’t utilize any hyper-realistic graphics engine. This is probably a good thing since more players can enjoy the game, and who really wants a hospital game with hyper-realistic graphics; it makes me woozy just thinking about it. The game utilizes a bright pallete and a very colorful, upbeat user interface. After all, who wants to get depressed playing a video game?

While most of the time there is no music playing in County General Hospital, during certain events and when treating patients, you are treated to styles of music very similar to the show’s opening theme. You know, that incredibly eerie, creepy kind of music that would send you running out the door if you ever actually heard it playing in a real hospital. Since we aren’t patients though, it suits the game just fine. The game features a plethora of excellent voice acting and even includes actually actor voices from the show such as Noah Wyle, Sherry Stringfield and Mekhi Phifer.


Gameplay:

While I referred to ER as a hospital sim above, doctor sim would be more accurate. You don’t actually get any say in how the hospital is run or anything like that. Instead, the game focuses on you and your treating of patients. The basic flow of the game runs like this: you choose from a set of sick patients in the waiting room, send them to appropriate beds in the hospital, and then go treat them one at a time. If a patient is beyond your skill to help, you can call on a senior doctor to come help you.

You also have your personal hygiene and fatigue to worry about. You must make sure to do things like wash your hands, take showers, sleep and get in some recreation time. Shifts at the ER are long and you must take care of yourself. Your character will also have specific strengths and weaknesses. He may be a brilliant brain surgeon, but doesn’t work well with children.

The final aspect of working at County General Hospital is forging personal relationships with the other doctors and nurses. When you get a free minute, you can chose to engage in conversations with your colleagues and work to slowly carve deeper and deeper relationships. There are, of course, a few people you may never get along with. Your own personal doctor’s personality may heavily influence who you get along with initially.


Difficulty:

The challenges posed by ER really come down to learning time management skills. How can you treat all these patients, take care of personal needs, and maintain a social life all within the span of a long work day. A normal day has its ups and downs in difficulty as the wave of patients rises and falls. Each day or episode usually has a few special events. One of the more interesting ones involves a local convention center catching on fire during a super hero convention, and you’ll see a huge influx of costumed patients enter the hospital.

Game Mechanics:

ER employs a fairly intuitive point and click user interface. A lot of useful information is available at a glance, including your medical skills, a map of patient locations, and your personal conditions.

Aside from daily patients and special events in each episode, you may also get special requests from senior doctors that you can choose to accept or ignore. For example, you may need to treat 12 children before the day is over. Completing these assignments can get you extra rewards and improve your relationships with other doctors.

Certain patients may also give you gifts called perks that you can utilize at any time or trade with other doctors. As your skills increase, you may also gain access to special abilities that you can “equip” and give you certain advantages.

ER is a surprisingly entertaining game. I’m neither a huge fan of "ER" or sim games, but I enjoyed myself quite a bit with it. The relationships with the characters and the interesting narrative aspects really finish the package. With a fairly low price tag, I would recommend ER to anyone who enjoys the show, and maybe even a few who don’t.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:



800 MHz Processor or better, 256 MB RAM, Windows(r) XP and 2000, 2 GB free Hard Drive space, A T&L-capable video card with at least 32 MB of video RAM (Most NVIDIA(r) GeForce(tm)/Quadro(tm) and ATI(r) Radeon(tm) class video cards), If no Hardware T&L card present, must have 2.0 Ghz Processor or better, DirectX(r)-compatible sound, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers
 

Test System:



2.8 GHz Pentium 4, 1024 MB RAM, Radeon 9800 Pro wtih 256 MB video memory, Sound Blaster Audigy 2

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