Fire Commander: Preview

26/09/2021

When you were a child, and people asked you what you wanted to be, many of you would have said firefighter or police officer. Fire Commander gives you the chance to manage your own Fire team. It will be released on the Steam Storefront at some point in the future. It is being developed by Atomic Wolf and Pixel Crow. In the meantime, they have provided a demo to showcase some of the features of this real time strategy game.

The demo allows you to experience three different missions. The first mission takes place at a gas station. Before starting the mission, you can opt to do the training mission which provides you with all the instructions needed to complete the mission. The training is very straightforward and puts you into a false sense of security. There is no feeling of urgency during the training so when you enter the first mission you do not expect any.

Once you accept the mission however you are put in the position of having to choose between saving the trapped civilians, putting out all the fires, or putting out the fire closest to the fuel tank. I went for the fuel tank option and put out the fire closest. I then rushed in to save the civilians. That was a big mistake. There were two fires near the fuel tank, and I assumed the fire wouldn't spread. But it did. Luckily, I had noticed this and rushed a few of the firefighters to put out both fires. From there on it was straightforward. 

The next two missions follow a similar pattern. Identify if any of the fires will spread to a flammable substance, if not find and save the civilians then put out the fires. The final mission introduces you to a new unit that can handle toxic fires. It also allows you to move the vehicles that are at the disposal. This came in handy when firefighters ran out of water. One of the vehicles had a fire cannon which could be used to put out large external fires. If you "gang" up on the fires you shouldn't have an issue with completing these three missions.

If you order a firefighter to do a task that their class can't do, they will stand still. Which is understandable. But when you select a group of firefighters which includes a mix of classes they just stand in place and won't move even when the task is done. For these three missions this isn't an issue. But I can imagine that if you are in a high difficulty level where you need to be efficient with all your firefighters this could be frustrating. Hopefully there will be a patch when the game is released to rectify this issue or give the player a choice to change the behaviour of your firefighters.

From the completing the demo, you presented with a list of features that will be featured in the final game such as more classes of firefighters and an ever-expanding fire station. Looking at the website there will also be an experience system and the firefighters will bond with each other. I found the action interesting but I'm hoping there will be a lot more going on while out on a mission with an increasing sense of urgency.

There will be 30 + story and side missions. Which with what I have seen so far won't outstay it's welcome. Especially if the levelling up system contains choices that the player can make to differentiate their own firefighters to another players.

I love base building; it was one of my favourite aspects of Fallout 4. Fire Commander will include a feature where you can expand your fire station. Again, there is very little information on what this will be. It will probably tie into the vehicles and classes you can use but that is just speculation.

I am also intrigued what other classes will be available from the final product. During the demo you have access to technicians (standard firefighter), medics and a Hazmat suited firefighter. There is very little information but will be interesting to see.

The potential of Fire Commander is huge. It looks and plays very well. I had no issues running the game on my mid spec PC. I didn't notice any bugs or graphical artefacts. The only issue I did run into is some of the fire vehicles didn't understand that I wanted them to move to a specific location. The vehicle would just go round in circles until I told it to do something else. I had another issue with a fire vehicle staying stationary when instructed to move. Finally, the last issue I had with this title was when I would instruct firefighters to go put out a fire, they would stand in a fire and put it out. If these are ironed out in the final game that would really make this title shine.

Based on the demo, I'm more than happy to give this title a 4 out of 5. I cannot wait to see what the full game has in store for us wannabe firefighters. It will relight the fire of our childhood dreams (Sorry I had to). 

Brendan Freeman