Many people seem to enjoy the nature of emergency crews, fast vehicles, flashing lights, and the ability to drive through red lights. Yeah, it sounds like fun, until you realize what they are headed to accomplish. Massive fires, bank robberies, hostage situations, this pretty much describes the world we live in. Published by ARUSH Entertainment and developed by Sixteen Tons, Emergency 2: The Ultimate Fight for Life is the follow-up title for Emergency: Fighters for Life published back in 1998. This previous title made an earlier attempt to create a title to put you into control of this fascinating career, unfortunately it simply didn't pan out. Now, they've made a second attempt, but how does it fare in comparison to everything else on the market today?
Upon first launch, players will be introduced to the basic user interface, and possibly a few other quirks that aren't so nice. On some systems, players may notice a major graphical glitch that requires the game to be restarted when you attempt to launch a mission. This bug is corrected using a special mode upon launch and is outlined in the documentation, but still a hassle nonetheless. Generally, the title is well presented; from command central you can move to any division of your teams or to the disaster area. Dispatching emergency forces is easily completed by selecting the unit, loading it with personnel, and sending it on its way. Unfortunately, the game does not contain any way to queue up multiple units of the same type, so for a massive fire you may find yourself waiting for that slow process of loading the unit before you can dispatch another. This is not only time consuming, but very tedious and gets repetitive very quickly. When the vehicles arrive in the area of the city where the incident has occurred, instead of going directly to the scene, they sit at the edge of the map waiting for an order, and on every map this is a different location. This can be a very tedious process, and really takes away from the entertainment factor of the title. Hotkeys for selecting all units of the same type would be a great asset, as they would allow players to direct the appropriate units to the necessary locations, especially when multiple objectives need to be met. Currently, unit selection can become unnecessarily tedious when routine traffic is in the area.
The premise of Emergency 2 is simple; complete the necessary objectives to move onto the next mission. In some cases, these are easily met by simply putting out the fire or cleaning up the traffic accident, while others will require a little more thought and a little bit of luck. However, some of the missions are extremely tedious and mind numbing work that take a lot out of the title. For example, in one mission you have to search a massive forest for several little monkeys, combing through these woods is horribly boring and the game would be much better off without this element. Instead of a strategy title, the game seems to follow a very linear path, something more suited for an adventure game. The missions are almost puzzle-like in design; you have to find the tiny little element to succeed in the mission, while others require great repetition to successfully ascertain a set of steps to complete in a certain order to pass the mission. Although the objectives in each mission are sound, completing them is another question altogether. Besides these issues, Emergency 2 is a very enjoyable title mission-wise, whether you are putting out a massive fire caused by an explosion on a gas line or preventing a nuclear explosion, players should have no problems keeping interested on the title based on the mission objectives provided.
Graphically, Emergency 2 is surprisingly quite good. Units, buildings, and other objects are remarkably detailed. Effects such as flames shooting from a building, or smoke as water is doused over them are nicely presented, albeit the overall appearance is a bit cartoonish. Dynamic weather and day-to-night transitions are well done, and add a nice element to the overall presentation. One interesting addition to the series that was not present in the first is the ability to enter any building, whether it is simply to go for a sightseeing excursion or to rescue that fallen victim. This ability to walk into buildings to save injured victims or douse the flames presents an interesting element of detail, and the overall aesthetics presented in Emergency 2 are one of its strongest aspects to say the least.
Sound wise, Emergency 2 isn't as polished. The primary sounds players will hear during the missions are European-style emergency sirens, and although they are adequate at first, it doesn't take long for them to become overly repetitive and simply annoying. Whenever a victim falls, the same blunt groan is heard, no variation at all no matter the gender of the injured victim. These shortcomings in the title could use much improvement as would greatly enhance the entertainment factor over extended periods of play.
Despite its shortcomings, Emergency 2: The Ultimate Fight for Life is a relatively entertaining title. The graphics engine is easily is strongest element, and the ability to enter any building is a nice feature. However, the sound aspect seems to have been almost completely overlooked, and the tedious gameplay really take away from the entertainment factor and lasting appeal of the title. If you are a diehard fan of the genre or thoroughly enjoyed the first, then you may want to look into Emergency 2, otherwise it is unlikely the title will offer much for your style of gameplay.