It is said one of the most harrowing jobs in the world is as an emergency dispatcher; dealing with frenzied and terrified people in horrible situations all while remaining calm and professional. It’s something to admire and respect. However, it doesn’t quite seem like the type of thing you would want to do? Well, while 911 Operator is certainly not a realistic game by any means, it does make the job quite a rewarding challenge.
911 Operator throws you in the shoes, or rather the headset and keyboard, of an emergency dispatcher covering a city. The game has no real overarching narrative and the only story in the game is found through the calls you answer to, which are many. The game’s “story” takes place across six real cities including San Francisco and Washington D.C. to be specific. Each city offers its own challenges and resources, with smaller cities having fewer calls but fewer personnel, while larger cities present more dangerous situations but with better equipment and resources at your disposal.
The game includes a nifty feature where you can search up your city or small town and it will get the information on it and download a map for you to use in the free mode of the gaming. While I can’t say how accurate the map was I can say it was pretty cool playing the game in the town I grew up in.
The gameplay is simple at its core; you have a view over the map where you will see a number of different icons representing different things. First you have your unit icons, which consist of blue police, white paramedics, and red fire fighters. Each of these have special units all their own, with police having access to vans to carry more units, or motorcycles to get to a location faster. Each unit type has their own variations each one with their own strengths and weaknesses for you to use depending on situations.
The other main markers on the map are the incident markers, there are two different types: calls and standard situations. Situations pop up on the map and come with a short description along with a color coordinated logo based around which unit or units are needed to be successful for the situation. Then there are calls which are an interesting interactive scenario. Essentially you answer and incoming call and work through a conversation choosing what is best for the situation.
These calls range from the simple, to the dramatic, to the hilarious, to the annoying. Each call offers it owns challenges; having to gain information on the situation and determining was is best for it. These calls, while cool at first, quickly become repetitive after being on the same map for a few shifts. The game however is not as simple as just answering the calls, no, the way you deal with a call affects your reputation and pay. Reputation is very important, if you take too long to respond and complete a call or simply fail to properly deal with a call you lose rep. Lose enough of it and you will be fired. This adds a nice challenge to the game to make sure you properly deal with issues.
On the pay side, it deals with how you equip and outfit your personnel. Do you want to spend the money to make sure you officers have the best armor and weapons money can buy, or do you want to buy a new technical truck so your fire fighters can deal with more challenging issues? These are decisions you will have to make after every full shift in the game. I encountered very few bugs throughout my time with the game, and it seems to run flawlessly. The only area where the game falls short is the distinct lack of realism to the job, and the lack of variety in the game. Overall 911 Operator is just a solid experience.
Artistically there isn’t much to talk about, visually speaking the game is very bare bones, it really doesn’t take much to run this game. The visuals are simple and easy to follow with a UI that is neither too sparse nor too crowded. From an audio standpoint, the game does well. While the soundtrack is nothing to write home about, the random radio chatter in the background on call is nice addition that really helps the immersion. The voice acting in 911 Operator is hit and miss; the operator you play is well done and sounds professional and believable. Callers on the other hand are mostly pretty bad, often sounding fake and barely believable. Overall however it doesn’t take away too much from the game.
911 Operator is a solid strategy simulator that actually makes dealing with life of death calls fun and rewarding. The gameplay is solid and enjoyable though slightly repetitive; it keeps bringing me back for more. Overall 911 Operator while simple is definitely worth a shot at only $14.99 on Steam.