When I first started playing ER, I was struck with how much it seemed like an older game I used to play all the time called Sim Hospital. You basically have to run a small emergency room and keep your patients healthy and alive.
Of course the ER game has something going for it that Sim Hospital never did. It has three things actually. Noah Wyle, Mekhi Phifer and Sherry Stringfield all lending their likenesses and voices to the game.
You don’t get to play as them, but you can interact with them as you go about your rounds as a new doctor in the famous ER from the show. As people come into the ER, which is surprisingly small when you actually see the layout compared to how big you probably think it is from the TV show, you need to figure out who needs immediate help. Basically you do this from the triage area. You have to diagnose people and depending on their problem you need to send them to general treatment rooms or possibility right into surgery.
Your character has several traits which can help out. Like an RPG, you use your skills where you can to solve problems. Perhaps your doctor is good at setting fractures but not so good at cardiac problems. In that case you probably can fix most broken bones yourself, but need to call for help when working with a victim of a stroke. There are also several items that you can get that will improve your skills, and they will get better over time.
Like the hit show, a lot of the intrigue happens because of your interaction with other members of the staff. Let’s say you get friendly with the nurses. Then they might be willing to offer you some towels, which can help keep your cleanliness score high. Unless you want your patients dying of infections, this is a good thing to have.
You can interact with the rest of the staff by simply walking up to them and striking up a conversation. You can pick from a variety of options from small talk to flirting. You can also offer them some gifts you have acquired. So if the nurses give you a towel and you want to get in good with another doctor, you can try giving it to them.
There is also the option of romance in the game, though this is very difficult. Come on, why is Sherry Stringfield’s character so cold?
In addition to just treating patients, you also have to look out for your character’s best interests. You need to wash up between patients either in a sink or sneaking upstairs to the doctor’s lounge for a shower. You also have to eat and sleep. This seems rather easy, but can get to be downright impossible when the ER is running at maximum chaos.
You see, you are also given special missions that have to be completed. Perhaps your bosses want you to treat a special patient and see them all the way through the treatment process. Or perhaps you need to treat a certain number of children, or old people or people with a certain illness. You only have so much time to complete these missions, and rushing around doing them will drain your energy and increase your hunger. The balancing act is very difficult at higher levels.
You pretty much have to decide to fail certain missions just to get enough sleep or grab a bite to eat. Thankfully, you are told what missions will get you fired if you fail, so you can choose to fail an unimportant one. But still, having to fail a mission does not seem cool to most gamers. Perhaps there is a way to complete all the missions given perfectly, but I tried many times and could not do it.
Thankfully there is an excellent tutorial that goes with the game. It takes a good half an hour to go through, but will tell you everything you need to know to be a successful doctor. And you will be given new instructions as needed at higher levels.
Like Sim Hospital, the diseases in ER are not real. You won’t get someone coming through the door with bone cancer or something like that. Diseases and problems are simply shown as symbols. I think this was a good choice given that they are trying to keep the game light and friendly.
ER the game should appeal to fans of the show. Those who are not fans of the show might like is as well, though in reality this is pretty much an average sim without the huge backing of popular actors and a hit TV show.