A mixture of education and games can often prove to be a bit of a clash. When the focus of the game is more about learning specific information core mechanics are often found lacking. 911 Operator tries to overcome this problem by providing detailed information packaged in a strategic management game.
911 Operator is a game about (yes you guessed it!) being a 911 operator. The game starts by giving you key information about how to deal with different scenarios that might require you to call the emergency services. Very specific information such as how to give CPR and put out a small stove fire. While this information is genuinely useful in real life situations, unfortunately it isn’t needed to play the game.
Getting to grips with the core mechanics are nicely explained so it won’t be long until you’re busy sending help to anyone in need. You control the three major services, law enforcement, paramedics and firefighters. Some of these incidents will need more than one service, increasing the tension as they require more of your resources. This isn’t limited to a few distinct locations either, one of 911 Operator’s biggest selling points in that you can pick any city in the world and it works almost flawlessly. There is a bizarre satisfaction in sending a firefighter to a house just opposite the street you grew up on.
Some incidents will simply appear on your map, while others will occur through incoming calls. You only have a limited amount of time to answer this call too, if you miss the call you won’t be able to call them back. There was one moment I was playing on full speed, waiting for more incidents. A call came in, but because of the increased speed I had barely a second to answer the call. It would be nice for the game to slow down before you answer a call.
All calls are fully voice acted, the acting is actually very convincing too. Some calls made me feel even a little uncomfortable. When talking to the other person on the phone you are given 3 options for each piece of dialogue. Your priority is to determine if this call is worthy for 911, the address of the incident and the service that is needed. Sometimes you are even required to give advice, such as if the caller should arm themselves or hide. This adds a very compelling dynamic to the already believable call system.
Once your services arrive at the scene the individual staff will automatically divide themselves up and deal with the problem. A speeding car might take only take 30 in-game minutes to deal with, while a big fire will take a long time. Sometimes you need backup when things get out of hand too.
Between shifts you can equip your staff with a number of different items. These items include first aid kits, bullet proof vests and guns. You can also hire new members of staff, which will be necessary if and when your staff get injured. This provides a wonderful foundation, however in the current version this is somewhat floundered. There is no real sense managing your cash flow, I simply had too much money. This almost completely eliminates any interesting decision-making and as a result there is no real sense of progression.
This lack of progression is mirrored in the calls you receive from people in need. After about an hour of play you begin to notice cases repeating. While this is probably due to the time constraints regarding the fully voiced conversations, sacrificing the amount of scenarios over the voice acting greatly hampers the experience.
It is very important to mention Jutsu Games have been clear they will continue to support 911 Operator with free updates. This is exactly what 911 Operator needs, the general presentation is clean and professional it just feels a bit empty. I do not think it’s wise to buy a game purely for the sake of a promise, but from what I’ve played Jutsu Games have proven they are more than capable of making this game brilliant.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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