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Video Game / Emergency!

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"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 developed by Sixteen Tons Entertainment, starting in 1998, excluding Emergency 2012/2013, which 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.

Emergency 5 was released November 28, 2014. It's available on Steam. It was delisted as the subsequent sequels are Mission-Pack Sequel, culminating with Emergency 20.

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.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Unfortunately, all the games have a reputation for poor pathfinding.
  • 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).
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: In Emergency 3, "Fire Plane" in German was translated to "Fire Engine" in English.
  • 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.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Vehicles are color-coded depending on the particular service to which they belong:
    • Firefighters: Red (obviously)
    • Emergency Medical Services: Orange (Emergency 3 and later)
    • Police: Green (Emergency to Emergency 3) or Light Blue (Emergency 4 and Emergency 2012)
    • Engineers: Dark Blue/Purple (Emergency 3 and later)
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Heavily averted in Emergency 3. Fires will damage vehicles and gradually injure people until they are downed (excluding firefighters) in a range around the burning object, however this effect is exaggerated, and fires will down people and blow up cars that are across a street. Before this was subverted in Emergency 5, the only practical choice in that towering inferno would be the fire extinguishing tank.
  • 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 easily defeat anything that isn't a police officer, who's usually able to handle them alone). Additionally, units can only ever enter vehicles of the same branch, so e.g. medics cannot hitch a ride in an armored car for support.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Built into a fire apparatus.
  • 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. Of course, these vehicles belonged to the FD before Emergency 3.
    • Note that emergency medical services in Emergency follow 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.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Shooting cars causes them to burn. Cars left to burn will explode. Cars near hot fires will take damage and blow up. This can become a frequent cause of serious injuries among your emergency personnel unless you move those vehicles or keep them far enough. This happens less often in Emergency 5, due to vehicles taking much longer to burn down and explode.
  • Fireman's Safety Net: The jump pad. In later games it's a big airbag, but in any case, it's used to catch people Hanging by the Fingers—or about to jump from an upper-level window when you can't spare an aerial ladder truck. You can't remove it after establishment, so choose the location wisely.
  • Game Mod: Emergency 3, 4, and 5 have a Level Editor built in (2013 didn't). The most notable mod be the Los Angeles Mod that replaces the default units with Emergency Services found in the Los Angeles area, and also includes a Free-Play map based on Los Angeles.
    • Another notable mod is the Winterberg Mod, a realistic and highly detailed depiction of the emergency services of the tiny Northrhine-Westphalian ski resort of Winterberg.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Just the occasion to deploy a turntable ladder truck or a jump pad.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: A staple of a computer game that's largely about firefighters. A lot of missions don't get done without them.
  • 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 and lose health.
  • 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. However, that's done easily if you could use the enter building command and it'll highlight the few corresponding houses.
  • Hostage Situation: This is the premise for some scenarios, as well as a random event in Free-Play. You can't send cops inside or they'll get killed, but the perps aren't the smartest either
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Not super-obvious from your top-down perspective, but with blinking lights and left out in the open for your Engineer (or bomb disposal robot) to disarm.
  • Instant Death Bullet: A Zig-Zagging Trope with respect to police sniper rifles. In Emergency 4, in contrast to the handguns, a single shot from a police sniper rifle is invariably fatal. Since Emergency 5, the sniper rifles got nerfed in general and rifle wounds became survivable.
  • Kaizo Trap: Subverted. One appears in the sixth mission of Emergency 4 where the terrorists unexpectedly emerge when you're nearly done with everything. There is a very short window to intercept them, but their presence is actually given away at the very beginning in the tips section, which then means setting up a roadblock pre-emptively with armored support.
  • 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, likely when the doctor is running to the casualty just as their health empties.
  • 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.
    • The Engineer does less since Emergency 5. A police robot is provided instead for bomb disposal, and the recovery helicopter does not carry an Engineer, so he does only the repairs.
  • The Oner: The intro of Emergency 3 is a rather epic one, pulling through a fire brigade garage as they gear up for an apparent large-scale disaster.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Normally the Supervisor instructs you calmly during the missions, but in 2014 a group of fanatics tries to destroy the rocket meant to blow up the Caligula asteroid in the final mission. That same group hacks your video connection to the Supervisor, who sees their message just like you do and is certainly no longer calm afterwards.
  • Pacifist Run: Even if criminals are armed and dangerous (and possibly holding hostages) the game rewards the player with a higher efficiency score if they are stopped without further casualties (usually by having a police officer jump on them, sometimes supplemented by a stun grenade to minimize damage).
  • Player Headquarters: Found in Free-Play maps. It somehow includes facilities for all four of your Emergency Services in a single building.
  • Random Event: They drive Free-Play. You respond to randomly-triggered fires, medical emergencies, crimes, etc.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Several examples:
    • Emergency: The aerobatic plane crashing into a diner was allegedly based on the Ramstein Air Show disaster.
    • Emergency 2:
    • Emergency 3: A jet pilot and his parachute get entangled on a church spire after bailing out of a crashing plane, in the vein of John Steele.
    • Emergency 5 features a car crash involving a streetcar and a tanker truck carrying petrol. This is an (albeit far less deadly) allusion to the infamous Green Hornet crash of Chicago.
    • Emergency 2017 features a mission in which the police must dissolve a nationalist demonstration and protect a refugee centre from arsonists. It's a relatively unsubtle nod to the (then-ongoing) European migrant crisis.
  • Scenery Gorn: Needless to say, things can get pretty ugly.
  • 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, 2012 (which oozes with place references), and 5 (which has maps representing Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin) 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 Ranch. 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 4 and Deluxe foreign missions, which are set in obvious expies of unnamed African (Sierra Leone), South European (Yugoslavia), Middle-Eastern (Saudi Arabia) and former Soviet (Ukraine) countries.

Alternative Title(s): Nine One One First Responders


Emergency 4

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