It’s an age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I often jumped from one profession to another including astronaut, teacher and even TV presenter, to name but a few. However, the humble firefighter never made it onto my shortlist. But now Firefighter Simulator – The Squad (or FFS if you like) is here to provide a bonafide experience for those wondering what such a high pressure job is like. Quite the unfortunate abbreviation that. 

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In Firefighter Simulator – The Squad you are thrown into life as a chief firefighter along with your trusty squad who seem to frequent a city where there is always something burning down. There are plenty of missions to work through, and they will procedurally unlock as you progress. Some will randomise when replayed, and others are more driving focused as opposed to the putting out of fires. But on the whole, they pretty much follow the same pattern.

You usually start back at base and need to race to the location of the fire, which makes up the first part of the mission. Rather excitingly, you’ve got lots of flashing lights, sirens and a rather loud horn at your disposal to provide entertainment for the journey. Driving the huge fire trucks is easy enough, however you can’t deviate from the road. I mean this quite literally, because if you crash into anything be it a lamp post, pedestrian or even a bush, your truck will stop dead. There’s no deviating from the beaten track. As you can imagine, getting the big beast back up to speed can take a little while too. It’s safe to say that despite the environment being pretty large, it’s incredibly linear. Open world, Firefighter Simulator – The Squad is not.

Once you arrive at the scene, the first thing you’ll likely notice is your squad announcing a 360 check again and again and again. I’m guessing it’s an official firefighting term, but boy does it get annoying. Fast. Still, I guess it is important as it’ll give you a brief breakdown of the scene before you get started. 

To get going, you’ll need to hook up a supply line to your fire truck, so you can draw water from a nearby hydrant. After a few missions it can get laborious, but there is an option to get your squad to take care of this for you automatically (thank goodness). Next, you’ll need an attack line linked up to your truck with a nozzle attached to the end so you can start quenching the fire (yes that’s also a technical term). 

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When you aim the water cannon at the fire, small symbols will appear, guiding you to gradually put the fire out. I say this because it will spread fast, or reignite in certain conditions to frustrate your progress. For example, if there’s a chemical or pan fire it’s probably best not to use water if you don’t want it to take your face off. In this scenario, you’ll require an extinguisher. There will also be times where deteriorating electrics will act to relight the fire, so cutting off the power is a priority.

At times you’ll also require other tools, such as an axe or circular saw to remove obstructions and even tear down walls. All the gear you’ll need is kept on board your fire truck, so it’s simply a case of opening up the correct compartment to access it.

You’ll also need to keep an eye out for the famously dangerous backdraft, where oxygen rapidly re-entering an area can cause a small explosion. A surging noise and smoke under a door will signal that you have seconds to move out the way once you open it, or get blasted by a huge fireball. 

As well as putting out fires to save buildings, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for survivors, and then get them to safety. Sometimes you’ll need to use the basket on your truck to get high and tackle roof fires. On the whole Firefighting Simulator – The Squad controls rather well with the exception of these little segments.

Extending the basket arm and then moving to the best position feels horribly imprecise, and sometimes you’ll soar into the air or drop several metres seemingly automatically. It’s a right faff, and as a result I avoided using this as much as possible because of how fiddly it was.

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There’s a vague sense of progression in Firefighting Simulator – The Squad as you’ll gain XP and level up after completing missions depending on how quickly you do so. This will unlock new wheels for you to take for a spin, which are licensed Rosenbauer models such as the TP3 Pumper and T-Rex hydraulic platform. I’m sure that will make some of you very happy. Probably.

Three AI characters will make up the squad numbers if you’re playing solo, and these guys do normally get the job done, but have the occasional wobble. I say this because sometimes they will get stuck, or simply refuse to carry out your command; that can get a little irritating. Or if you prefer more intelligent company, you can set up online games with your friends.

Pretty much anything you can do, your squad can do too. There’s a handy command wheel which allows you to direct each member so they can aid you in quenching fires, rescuing residents and even breaking down obstacles. They’re ever so obedient too, bless them.

Now as this is a simulation game, I was expecting lots of tabs, stats and jargon as soon as I got past the title screen. Thankfully there is a comprehensive tutorial to blast through which goes through all the necessary training you’ll need to stay alive in the field. But to my surprise I found Firefighter Simulator – The Squad surprisingly accessible, and dare I say straightforward. There isn’t really a lot to it, yet there are many missions on offer. Before long, you’ll find yourself grinding out the same old rhythm with very little variation thrown at you. Larger fires just result in the scenario taking longer, and this is where Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is exposed for the shallow experience that it is. Again, given this is a simulation game I found myself very surprised by this.

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The game looks good enough in snapshots too, but doesn’t run particularly well which takes the sheen off things. Visually it doesn’t take much for things to get sluggish and choppy, and at points cars in front of me would literally vanish in front of my very eyes. The music is also painfully generic, in fact I’m sure I’ve come across it before but I can’t quite put my finger on where.

Firefighting Simulator – The Squad will set you back £24.99 and there is only one word needed to describe it: expensive. The core gameplay elements are few but stretched over many hours of gameplay. Despite being monotonous there is something enjoyable about the whole experience, but before too long the spark will go out.

Firefighting Simulator – The Squad manages to capture something of the dangerous (and dare we say) exciting profession. However, there’s not enough here to prevent it from ending up as a flash in the pan.

Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is on the Xbox Store

TXH Score

3/5

Pros:

  • Licensed trucks and equipment
  • Squad system works well

Cons:

  • Very repetitive gameplay
  • Surprisingly basic for a sim game
  • AI can be dumb on occasion

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – astragon Entertainment
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
  • Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 6 December 2022
  • Launch price from – £24.99

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Source: https://www.thexboxhub.com/firefighting-simulator-the-squad-review/