All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


911 Fire Rescue

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: WizardWorks / Infogrames
Developer: Sunstorm Interactive
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

While at first I had low expectations for the graphics in 911 Fire Rescue, I found myself pleasantly surprised. The first few houses and the first office looked quite nice; they may not have been particularly detailed or pretty, but at least they looked like their real-world counterparts. Unfortunately, as the game went on, I realized that I had already seen everything there was to see within the first ten minutes of play. You have houses, which have bedrooms and kitchens and bathrooms; you have offices, which consist entirely of identical cubicles and identical offices, and you have wrecks on the road, which generally have a few cars and lots of fire. And that's about it. Indeed, the last few office levels of the game have entire sections that are 'empty' cubicles with nothing in them, and empty office rooms. I don't know about you, but I don't know many office buildings that have cubicles set up but no one in them for entire rooms. It seems like the designers got tired of putting stuff into the game. The fires look neat, but they're definitely pretty 'jagged'; you can see the polygon 'lines' that they follow, and as you put them out with your water or foam, they shrink in metered jerks. The water and foam also look pretty durn stupid. Despite the lack of graphical prowess, the game got jumpy on my computer at any resolution above 800x600; when I can play Unreal Tournament at 1024x768 with little to no jump, this is inexcusable.

As for the sound, there's some pretty generic 'pumping' music in the background for the entire game; while it might have gotten annoying, I beat the game before I had heard it too many times. The minimal voice-acting is solid, but the sound effects are pretty weak. The fire isn't particularly convincing, when it needs to be terrifying, and the coughs and spurts of the foam sound tinnier than they should. Yes, yes, I know it's a budget title, so I won't knock it too hard on sound production. What's there is surprisingly good for that style of game.


However, I will knock it for its repetitive gameplay, extremely short length, and over-the-map difficulty. The game is absolutely trivial until you get to the dreaded Mission 11, and then it becomes trivial again afterwards. The sad part is that it seems that mission is difficult only because of misimplementation.

But before we get to that, let's talk a little about the premise behind the game. In 911 Fire Rescue, you are a firefighter. You go to three types of locations during the course of the game--houses, offices, and road fires. While all three have different 'looks', they all play identically: put the fires out and rescue the victims.

You put the fires out the same way that you shoot in a traditional FPS. There are three extinguisher types that you'll find in the game: a water hose, which has unlimited power but takes a while to put out fire; a foam tank that you carry with you, and various extinguishers you may find in each level. 'Alpha' fires can be put out with water alone; Bravo-level fires need foam; Charlie-level fires can be put out with water, as long as you cut the power in the building off. Rescuing victims is as simple as looking at them and pressing the 'use' button.

And that's the entire game. In most of the office levels, you'll have to use level hoses instead of the one from the truck, which means you have to find the level hose. Of course, they never stick the hoses where they might be in real life, instead placing them in far corners of areas to make you hunt for them.

That's not as bad as some of the gross stupidities in the game, though. By far the worst was the fact that there will actually be fires under people, yet they'll still be alive. Huh? Obviously the victim placer and the fire placer weren't really talking to each other on this project, or something. And then there's the evil Mission 11. It tells you that you can use the truck hose on the first floor but must use level hoses on the second and third; in reality, you can't use the truck hose at all and there's only one level hose, in an obscure corner of the second floor. It was the only level that I actually lost--both times because I couldn't conserve foam well enough to find the water hose. I figure that the engine wasn't sophisticaed enough to actually implement per-floor hoses, but they should have just given you a truck hose from the get-go instead. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Despite this, any real gamer should be able to beat the entire thing within two hours of booting it up. Understandably, the target market may take a little longer, but a few sittings will have the game beaten by anyone. The game scores you per mission, but who'd bother to go back and play them again?


Other than Mission 11, the game is quite trivial. Your water hose will reach absolutely anywhere, once you get it, including up stairs, down stairs, behind doors, and anywhere else that you like. You're supposed to have to use oxygen and crouch on a regular basis, but I didn't even find the crouch key until the next-to-last mission, and the two missions that actually needed oxygen didn't have it. Whee. And there's a mission right near the end of the game that took me thirty seconds to beat. Literally. Another one required me to shoot over a curb to hit a fire, which took way longer than it should have and wasn't particularly exciting. Artificial difficulty is bad, folks.

Game Mechanics:

911 Fire Rescue uses first-person shooter controls. You move around with the arrows (I reconfigured it to WASD), switch items with two buttons, 'fire' with the left mouse button and use whatever's in front of you (open a door, pick up an item, rescue a victim) with the right mouse button. There's also a duck key and an oxygen key, although I rarely used either. Switching items is tedious, because you have to watch the put-away and bring-up animation before it'll let you switch again. The core mechanics of the game have some neat points--watching the sparks in the air and seeing where they rise instead of float will show you where that last bit of fire in a room is, for example--but the problems with the hose, the big problem with Mission 11, and the general lack of detail in the later levels shows that this game is destined for the budget title bargain bin. Load times are longer than I would have liked, but they're not insurmountable.

While 911 Fire Rescue has a neat idea, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Extremely repetitive level design--do I have to look in another identical set of offices and cubicles?--combine with criminally short gameplay, spotty difficulty and broken mechanics to make an experience best forgotten. If you simply must put out some fires, I suggest Burning Rangers for the Saturn. If that's not a possibility (what, you don't have a Saturn?) then you can try 911 Fire Rescue, but only the die-hard will bother to stick around and finish the game out. That, or people with two hours to blow.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me, P2 500/K6-2 550, 64MB RAM, 200MB HD space, 4x CD-ROM, TNT/Voodoo2-level 3D card

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Rock Manager Windows Adventure Pinball: Forgotten Island

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated