Developed by JUTSU Games and Published by Code Horizon, 911 Operator is an interesting looking simulation based game that has you taking on the role of an emergency dispatcher. Stress levels will run high and irritation just as much so as you deal with a more than steady flow of incoming reports. Not only will you need to deal with the incoming phone calls, but you’ll need to act on each report by sending in the police, the paramedics and the fire crews to the right locations. It’s a game of strategy and one that doesn’t come without a large degree of tact. Send a unit to one emergency and you may find that you cant, or don’t have enough time, to send a unit to a more urgent emergency. You may even have a queue of calls that are on the line, with an urgent matter simply sitting in line waiting for someone to respond. That is the backbone of 911 Operator, but does it prove to be enjoyable? No.
Let us begin with the map, which is the only thing you will be staring at throughout the entirety of play. That’s right, a big eye puncturing deep blue map in which you’re given control over the rescue services within. You’ll be observing the lay of the land as well as taking on the aforementioned phone-calls that plague you for assistance, ranging from true emergency calls to annoying people that are wasting your time. When you’re not juggling the phone calls from people needing aid, random acts will pop up on the screen for you to choose what needs to be done to them. During each round of play you do get to upgrade some perks, such as guns and armour for the police, first aid kits and even extra vehicles to make each following response all that more bearable. Obviously the choice of adding more vehicles is the chief priority to ensure that you can spread the map more.
These emergencies and the theme of the game do prove to be an eye opener, and showcase how hectic it must be to live in the life of a real emergency responder. You’ll be hit with people calling about a heart attack, or a stroke, to which you’re able to give some form of over-the-phone advice as the situation progresses. The stressful theme of the game doesn’t do much to excite or entice you to a state that’s fun, but instead just proves to be a constant nuisance that never really subsides, and maybe that was the point? Maybe 911 Operator isn’t suppose to be fun at all, but a stark reminder of what goes on in the world on a daily basis across all corners of the planet, I truly couldn’t work that one out. Chaotic 911 Operator may well be, but it’s also tedious and repetitive as a downside.
The game does well at forcing you to think quickly on your toes as you plough through each situation and decide what’s an emergency and what isn’t, but this level of demand just isn’t met by any degree of intrigue whatsoever. There’s also not much of a rewarding sense of play outside of saving these in-game people or preventing a crime. Sending a swarm of police to one end of the town to investigate a nuisance call may well cost you the guilt of not being able to respond to an assault on the opposite end of the town, but this just isn’t relayed well enough for you to care, or in fact feel guilty at all. It’s just hours and hours of staring at the same deep blue map, sending fire, police and ambulance services to the place that you dictate. The game just lacks depth and meaning and almost all fronts, and unless you’re really into your simulation games and fancy a taste of emergency responder-life, 911 Operator isn’t going to tick many boxes for you.
Despite the rather bland lifeless visuals an interesting feature is that you can indeed take to Free Play mode and play in any city of your choosing from around the world. The game will then download the map along with real addresses, streets and the emergency infrastructure to give you a taste of a wide portion of content. That however, regardless as to how neat it can be to download your local town, still just applies the same monotonous gameplay that you’ve subject yourself to in the campaign. It certainly doesn’t help that the controls are sluggish when trying to react to an emergency, often costing you precious time in a game that adopts a setting that relies on quick response. The cost of the game is hardly going to set you back too much, but even with a well set price point this is going to bore the hell out of you sooner than entertain you.
911 Operator houses an interesting idea but doesn’t back it up with any depth. Sure it may be cool to download a map of your local city and serve as an emergency responder, or take to the campaign to do the same there, but it’s far too repetitive and far too boring to be justified as a solid well rounded experience. The deep blue visuals will punch your eyes before long, with nothing really changing up the tone of the game throughout. It almost felt as though this game should be a part of something bigger, such a deeper simulator, but instead we have to contend with basic gameplay across a bland canvas. I didn’t enjoy it at all irrespective of the alluring formula.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.