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You fight a lot of things in video games: zombies, terrorists, and those oddly enthusiastic blue slime things from the Dragon Quest franchise. Fires, however, are not a particularly common foe. Sure, there was Konami’s Firefighter F.D.18 on the PS2 and even Burning Rangers on the SEGA Saturn, but it’s not as common theme as you’d expect it to be. Firefighting Simulator: The Squad follows in the footsteps of Farming Simulator, but given the subject matter, it’s a lot more intense than cultivating crops.

Unsurprisingly, you’ll be responsible for executing increasingly difficult rescue missions. The entire game’s set in a fictional US-inspired city sandbox, where you’ll select from an expanding list of mission objectives and disembark from a central fire station. You get to drive the fire engine, of which there are several officially licensed models to unlock, and a quick and clean response time will increase your XP at the end. You can choose to play alongside a team of AI firefighters, but the game’s at its best in online co-op, which is available across the entire campaign.

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The gameplay feels a little loose – you can tell it’s been tuned for PC before consoles – but each mission requires a degree of strategy. Often you’ll find victims unconscious in their homes, and you’ll need to safely extract them and get them to a paramedic before tackling the flames. The fire spreads organically, and while blasting it with streams of water can feel a bit tedious, you’ll need to think tactically about your team’s approach in order to wrestle back control of the situation. It’s surprisingly challenging: one early mission saw us take an eternity to douse a tree – it’s no wonder wildfires are so dangerous!

The game adopts a vibrant, SEGA arcade-style presentation, with bright blue skies and lush green gardens. As such, it actually finds a happy medium between realism and entertainment – there are a lot of authentic tasks here, enough to make you feel like you’re a legitimate firefighter, but it’s not bogged down by meticulous details like some simulators tend to be. This makes it a surprisingly relaxing experience, despite the high-stakes rescues on display, and it’s the kind of campaign you can kick back with – especially if you’re planning to play in co-op with a group of friends.

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Our only major criticism is that missions, while somewhat varied, do tend to fall into a familiar pattern, where you’re switching off the electricity, plotting escape routes for any victims, and then dousing the flames. The different building layouts do inject some originality from objective to objective, and there are even some smaller scale tasks like burning hot dog stalls, but you’re going to feel the pangs of repetition after a dozen or so hours. And if you’re planning to play alone, despite the inclusion of a command wheel, you’ll end up cursing your braindead AI teammates.


Firefighting Simulator: The Squad takes an underrepresented concept and delivers a rousing co-op experience. Despite its name, the game doesn’t get too bogged down in details, making for an entertaining gameplay loop that’s oddly relaxing – despite the intense scenarios on display. Some shoddy AI and repetition mean we wouldn’t recommend it solo, but there’s undeniable fun to be had with friends.