Fire Chief is an interesting look inside a fireman’s life. The game drops you behind the controls of a very powerful fire crew; you control all of their actions, from putting fires out to rescuing people, to driving a water truck. This game gives you total control of your team and trucks.
The graphics in the game are fantastic. The detail in most places is very high, although some areas could use improvement, such as the windshield of the fire truck, but I’m just nitpicking. The buildings look very real, the detail of them and their surroundings is first-rate.
The maps, I don’t know if you would call them maps, most of the action takes place inside of buildings, but anyway, the maps can be viewed at best from the over-head view. There are also a lot of different types of scenarios, so you don’t get bored very fast by seeing the same stuff all the time. This view gives you the best view of what is going on inside, and you can also rotate 360 degrees for an even better look. You can even zoom in to your characters and see all the action up-close and in your face. The buildings look like they have their roof cut off, you can see everything from the top-down view, unless there is a room you haven’t entered, in which would just be a dark or black area.
The fires in the game look very realistic, and act real too. You can watch a fire spread around like, well fire. When the fires reach cars and other automobiles the explosions that occur are shocking, to say the least, I wouldn’t have thought they could look so good. The way the fires mesh together to create a blazing inferno looks outstanding. The lighting in the game from fires and other sources looks great; everything is lit up very well. When you put a fire out you can see glowing ambers left behind from the fire, beware these might start again.
Inside the buildings you see buttons and other important objects, most of these objects blink, even through walls. Many of these are also important to your objective; the blinking really helps you find where they are and how to get to them.
The models of the characters and victims are decent, although they could be better. The animations are very well done, every action the game characters do has its own unique animation, and a lot of them are pretty neat. Some of the animations could have been done better though: for example when you see a guy acting like he is picking up a body, he does the movement, but the body doesn’t move until his animation has stopped, and then the body appears on his shoulder.
The voices in the game are pretty minimal, you hear the guys telling you the story before each mission in the little cutscene, which is done superbly. You also have the guys talking over the radio saying “Alright”, and the likes. Those little voices of the men can get annoying as they say a few things that repeat a lot.
The sound effects, which is mostly fire burning, are great. Almost every action has a sound, using your fire extinguisher, the water canon, walking. There isn’t a lot of silence from the abundance of little noises.
There isn’t any in-game music, but that isn’t exactly a bad thing. Most of your attention is on putting out the fires, music is really the least of your worries. There is music, however, in the cut scenes and it’s very suspenseful, and well done.
The first thing you might want to do when playing this game is to do the tutorial. It teaches you the basics of how to control fires and drive trucks and refill your supply. It also gives you good examples of how the fire can get out of control if you don’t put it out quickly. You also get to see a car explode, which is great.
Before each mission starts there is a cut scene. After the cut scene the level loads and it gives you a helpful hint, most of these hints are true to life, so this game can be considered educational as well. It is wise to pay attention to these hints since most of them pertain to that specific level. When you start a mission it gives you a list of objectives to complete. Some of these objectives include saving victims, protecting objects, etc. During the game more objectives might be added on, so some levels might take quite a while to do, one took me 30 minutes to complete because of the fire.
The fires in the game are uncontrollable, as in real life. You can put them out, but 5 minutes later they can be roaring again. The more men you have concentrated in one area the faster the fire goes out. If you have your men extinguish a flame, they continue on their own for a while and put out more fires. Firemen aren’t the only units you have in the game; you also control a driver, medic, and a load of other people. These people are key to the game in certain areas: most of these units carry some sort of fire extinguisher, but their special skill is what’s important.
There are a lot of interesting details they put into the game, such as driving a car through fire catches the car on fire. People wait in line to use a ladder, so you don’t see guys going up and down at the same time. The driving is semi-realistic and quite unique. When you drive a vehicle it can only turn so far, such as in real life, same with backing up. Explosions are quite realistic too: you can see a set of barrels and a few moments later it blows up spreading fire everywhere.
The levels usually follow the same design, a big building with lots of small rooms. Most of the area can be seen; some areas are blocked off and need to have the doors opened in order to see inside. Firemen use their axes to bust down doors if they are locked, sometimes doors can be opened with vehicles or switches. Also on some maps you have 2 different teams to work with, such as people on the top floor and bottom floor. You need to have good control to make sure these teams work effectively.
I really enjoyed this game, it was quite a surprise. At first look this title looked a bit childish, but was I surprised. The graphics aren’t the greatest, but the game play is. It definitely has an RTS feel to it, without the whole building stuff idea. I would try to compare this game to something, but I don’t think anything really compares to it. It’s an addictive little game that I think most people will enjoy.