Farming Simulator. Street Sweeping Simulator. Police Simulator. Where the hell is all this nonsense coming from?
It’s incredible. It’s been a while since DisCONNECT has had a ridiculous article, so I figured that we might as well go off an a weird tangent today, because it’s funny to me. I asked a few people to suggest a strange game for me to review and they all brought out the weird simulators, like those I’ve mentioned. I was leaning towards the police one, but I decided to go with Emergency Ambulance Simulator. I’m actually a medic in real life (though I don’t get to drive lights and sirens) and before that I did work for the state ambulance service as a dispatcher. It actually made me fairly reluctant to play this sim because the temptation to pick it to death over pointless little things is too great. But I promised myself I’d not only play this as if I had no idea what I was doing, but I’d go out of my way to be the worst goddamn medic I possibly could. I doubt it simulates the hours of sitting around or the tedious filling out of paperwork, but you never know!
Related viewing: 360 Degree Crop Rotation.
The station looks fairly flash, but ridiculously tiny. There’s nothing much of interest here. It isn’t long before I get my first job though: a man has collapsed during a church service, and they need a medic! To the MedicMobile! I bumbled my way out to the ambulance, mostly because the collision detection and movement is really odd. The look sensitivity in first person mode is ultra sensitive when walking, but incredibly slow when driving. Actually everything screams “low budget”. The game simply isn’t very fluid. Driving there introduces me to some of the rules. Firstly, the game penalises you for hitting other cars or objects, driving through red lights and speeding unless under lights and sirens, and turning on the lights and sirens without permission. I’m playing as the worst medic ever, so I ignore pretty much everything and smash my way through to the patient. This is an emergency! Maybe.
I reach the church and get out of the car. My partner just stays there. Is my partner male or female? I honestly can’t tell. I wander around for a bit and can’t find the guy. This actually happens quite a bit in real life; someone calls in a case while they’re driving past, the crew gets there, and can’t find the patient – an “unable to locate” event. Eventually though I find the guy. I get a two-line exchange between the crew and the patient, and then I get presented with a few options for treatment. The first one I go for is “Check Vital Signs” because it makes the most sense; guy has passed out, airway is clear blah blah blah, let’s get a blood pressure etc and go from there. But the game rejects my clinical judgement, instead insisting I push fluids through instead. Okay, fair enough, I was heading down that way anyway, but really? Just fluids, absolutely no assessment? Okay, I’m not going to comment… I promised I’d play this like I knew nothing… let’s just accept it and move on.
We then get back in the car (the animation bugs out) and I have permission to go lights and sirens to hospital. In Australia, L&S to hospital is ridiculously uncommon; if you’re going L&S you’re either in a workable arrest or you’re incredibly close to it. Almost everyone goes road speed. But whatever, I don’t care, it gives me an excuse to avoid the traffic rules! I speed along, smashing into pretty much everything because the handling is ridiculously responsive. I drop the patient off, and then start the drive back to station. It’s here that I discover that if I drive around the traffic lights, I can go through them without getting an experience points penalty (and I want XP so I can see the bigger cases). I start looking for shortcuts and driving through parks and front yards, eventually making it home… for what it’s worth. I might have hit a few dozen cars and broken a few rules, but the patient survived in the end, right? That’s right. They did. Man, I’m awesome at this job.
The next job is at a playground, where a dude has cut his arm. Again we race out lights and sirens, speeding away like a bat out of hell, but I try not to hit things this time. The treatment here is fairly obvious and by now I know to play dumb, so I just hit the one with the blood drop. The tooltip says “Bleeding has stopped” which I assume is a mistranslation. We load him into the back, drive to hospital, and then drive home. I cheat outrageously this time, but at least I don’t hit anything this time.
Next up is a simple patient transport service job, or PTS job. Ambulance services often transport patients to hospital for treatment, typically those who require monitoring or who have conditions which would make it embarrassing to be transported by taxi. I’m rather delighted to find that the PTS car is similar to the ambulance I actually drive in real life. I’m even more delighted to find that the weird physics engine sort of emulates how our own ambulance operates: erratically. I have no patience for this job, so I rush out there (I can’t go lights and sirens) and rush back, making an absolute mess of it. But I don’t care! Not pictured: getting lost in a park and looking for somewhere to escape.
I play for a bit more and finally advance out of PTS jobs and get to go out to a case of anaphylaxis. And this is where I have a major issue with the game. No, it has nothing to do with actual treatment or anything like that. It’s the interface, and it stops me from playing. Prior to this job I had to quit because it sent me to a job which screwed up the camera and put half of the UI elements off the screen, making it impossible for me to select any treatments. That was a pain in the arse, but the anaphylaxis job was much worse. Take a look at this screenshot:
Tell me, what the hell are those lines pointing to? One clearly points to the head (and presumably the airway), but I have no idea what the purpose of the other one is. Plus my character is in the way, so it could be pointing to a gaping head wound for all I know (or care). It turns out that one of them (the right-most one, I think from memory) is for the administration of medication (adrenaline in this case), while the other one is used to “clear the airway” and administer oxygen. I’m not sure what they’re clearing because the patient is clearly able to speak to the crew, but… okay, I’m nitpicking, nevermind. When I was faced with this I had an idea of what I wanted to do out of the 9 options available, but I had no idea what corresponded to what action. I had to guess. The problem is that some of the game’s logic is a bit off so I didn’t know if this was the time that checking vital signs would actually do something, so I naturally clicked around until something happened.
The case before this one had a similar problem; the scenario was that a guy had fallen off some scaffolding, had a fracture on a leg or something, and also “hit his head”. The game doesn’t specify any injuries at all, so I just looked at the options, went “Well, pretty much none of these really make much sense for the head” and quit. Of course this was the one where half of the options for the head were actually off screen, which was pretty infuriating. Actually there are lots of things that make this borderline unplayable. Namely the physics. The ambulance bounces around and turns on a dime sometimes. Collision detection is ridiculous; I can’t walk through flowers for instance, and sometimes the game bounces my ambulance around on an obstacle in some sort of weird attempt at recovery. Even more amusing is the way that an ambulance can race down the street on two friggin’ wheels and make an epic recovery. The options for treating patients are incredibly limited, have no real context, and the interface is ambiguous and sometimes hides off screen.
I actually intended to do a series on this game, where I progressively got worse and worse at doing things. In Farming Simulator 2011 it’s possible to a hilariously half-arsed job and screw around, leading to the antics in the video linked above. It simply isn’t possible to do that here; apart from the driving physics, there’s nothing entertaining to show you. It’s clunky, it looks bad, it has some incredibly strange physics, and… it’s just not very good. It’s a lot less of a sim than Farming Simulator 2011, which is saying something. I actually feel like I’ve wasted my time doing this. But hey, new content is new content.