"After all, it's our mission to protect human lives, and that includes the lives of criminals."
—Supervisor from Emergency 4 / 911: First Responders.
Emergency is a series of real-time strategy or simulation games that places the player in the shoes of an incident commander. The task at hand is to coordinate Emergency Services—firefighters, emergency medical services, police officers, and engineering crews—to bring a quick end to various disasters and emergencies with a minimal loss of life. All games in the series have a campaign mode with a series of scenarios requiring a response to a disaster or some other such incident. Later games also include Endless Game and Challenge modes that place the player in command of local Emergency Services and pit the player against random emergencies ranging from injured persons and pickpockets to earthquakes and gas line explosions.This is a German-developed series. Emergency through Emergency 4 were developed by Sixteen Tons Entertainment, starting in 1998. The most recent entry in the series, Emergency 2012/2013, was developed by Quadriga Games and released in 2010. Note that Emergency 4 was published by Atari in the United States as 911: First Responders.Not to be confused with the 1970s American TV-series Emergency!.
Emergency contains examples of:
Almost Lethal Weapons: Handguns don't seem to do much damage. It takes several shots to take someone down, and then they only lie wounded so paramedics can simply shuffle them off to the hospital.
Artistic License - Military: Soldiers will not use their own weapons for self-defence, leaving their rescue to your policemen. Also, your policemen can arrest and detain soldiers all by themselves, without the presence of military police (which is averted in a few modifications).
Big Dam Plot: Once in Emergency, then again in Emergency 4 with the dam broken and a town flooded upon your arrival.
Cat Up a Tree: It's not what you're there for, but there is the occasional cat to rescue from a tree. Sometimes with flames licking the tree at that moment.
The second-to-last scenario in Emergency is a cat rescue. That's it. It's a puzzle, but serves as something of a Breather Episode.
Emergency Medical Services: Orange (Emergency 3 and later)
Police: Green (Emergency to Emergency 3) or Light Blue (Emergency 4 and Emergency 2012)
This correlates to a real-world shift in German police liveries around the time Emergency 4 was developed.
Engineers: Dark Blue/Purple (Emergency 3 and later)
Crippling Overspecialisation: Units can only ever do things that their profession generally requires them to. For instance, policemen cannot operate fire extinguishers or carry people, and firemen cannot give first aid or overpower criminal suspects (criminals can take on ten firemen at once and win, but can be subdued by one policeman). Additionally, units can only ever enter vehicles of the same branch, so e.g. medics cannot hitch a ride in an armoured car.
Dummied Out: Emergency 4 (at least) has zombie behavior coded in, meaning that people can be set to the "zombie" role in the editor. Zombies will shamble toward non-zombies, moaning, and then infect them, repeating the cycle. This behavior was only ever implemented as a Free-Play event (that, by default, only occurs on Halloween) in the Deluxe version.
Emergency Services: All three are represented, and all three are at your command. Later games include a fourth category: engineering crews (based on the German Technisches Hilfswerk) who fix things, move objects with mobile cranes and bulldozers, and build pontoon bridges.
Note that emergency medical services in Emergencyfollow the German model in all releases. This means that emergency physicians are dispatched into the field—optionally in a dedicated fly car before 2012, and necessarily in 2012—to provide advanced life support measures, and "paramedics," who staff ambulances and are employed primarily to carry the stretcher, normally cannot do much medicine on their own. Tellingly, the latter personnel were translated as "orderlies" in the English release of the first game.
Hollywood Fire: The smoke problem is somewhat averted. Personnel not protected by breathing apparatus (as some but not all firefighters are) will suffer from smoke inhalation in burning structures.
Hollywood Hacking: A scenario in Emergency 4, where a hacker has disrupted the power system and caused several serious accidents. One of your first objectives is to have an engineer check Net Services for any unauthorized access. There was no break-in there. How did the hacker gain access to the power system then? Through a satellite link. You have to actually search the operational area for a house with a satellite dish on the roof.
Hostage Situation: This is the premise for some scenarios, as well as a random event in Free-Play.
Instant Death Bullet: In contrast to the handguns, a single shot from a police sniper is invariably fatal. There's nothing you can do for anyone subjected to this treatment except to transport the body.
Magical Defibrillator: Doctors have these, and use them on patients on the brink of death. There is a very narrow window in which they can be used successfully, however; if a doctor is not on-site, the patient will probably die.
Market-Based Title: Atari's United States release of Emergency 4 was renamed 911: First Responders.
Monumental Damage: Emergency 2012, being the one game in the series with real-world settings, ups the stakes by endangering and destroying many highly recognizable world landmarks: the Cologne Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Brandenburg Gate, the Matterhorn, Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Acropolis of Athens.
The Reeperbahn, the red-light district of Hamburg, Germany, hardly qualifies as a monument, but does qualify as a famous place.
Mr. Fixit: The Engineer. He fixes inoperative traffic signals, shuts down blown out oil rigs, closes leaks of concentrated acid, and disarms bombs. All this on top of operating the hoist of a rescue helicopter.
Swat Team: "Marksmen" fill this role. They dress the part, but only seem to carry pistols.
Technicolor Toxin: Anything that poses a contamination risk—including chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants—can be visible as a green cloud.
Units Not to Scale: In about every game, the vehicles and humans have a size ratio of about 2:3 compared to Real Life. This can cause some rather humorous instances of technicians sitting in helicopters that are little bigger than themselves or firemen using aerial ladder baskets half their own size.
Video Game Setpiece: They drive scenario play. Structures often collapse, and new hazards introduced, according to a fixed schedule. Alternatively, some objects catching fire can have undesirable consequences, such as a chemical release.
Where The Hell Is Springfield?: All the games, save 2 and 2012 (which oozes with place references) try to make the places the missions are set in ambiguous, everyday German cities near lakes in the lower-ish country. It does not always work, such as in the 3 mission, in which a fire breaks out in a very Bavarian horse stable that's called... Bavaria Hof. Another problem are the police uniforms. By the time 4 rolled around, most German states had adapted uniforms similar to the blue ones in the game, but not states such as Bavaria, Saarland (green) or Hamburg (black).
Played with in the 4 Deluxe missions, which are set in obvious expies of unnamed African (Sierra Leone), Middle-Eastern (Afghanistan) and former Soviet (Ukraine) countries.