I never really thought about it but during the Steam Winter Sale when I saw 911 Operator I asked myself, “what would it be like to be a 911 Operator” and on that note I bought the game. Being I figured that it would not be a terrible purchase and that it could be a fun simulation game where I prioritize certain crises and dispatch police and ambulance to certain areas. After about five hours of playing I learned that 911 Operator is a bit more than that, in a good way.
911 Operator is a Simulation, Management and Strategy game all mixed into one game. It was developed by Jutsu Games and published by Games Operators, PlayWay S.A. It retails for $15 on Steam and for the Nintendo Switch.
Gameplay is fairly simple during the tutorial. You are given an area and a set amount of police vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks to place all around the map of your choice with two easy clicks. The game then starts and the vehicles move around a predetermined area until an incident pops up. You can read the notes on the incident to see what kind of issue is happening and how many people are hurt, number of obstacles and if the police need to be involved. The player then dispatches the correct department to the area. Most of the time you can look at the icon and just dispatch a unit out. To resolve an incident it takes time, roughly about a minute or two depending on how many units are dispatched to the area. Later on in the career mode there are incidents that will require more than one unit to be dispatched, for instance, at one point there can be an incident where all three departments will be required.
Taking phone calls is another large aspect of the game. Someone will call and they will either have a real emergency, an emergency that you can talk them through, a fake emergency and even prank phone calls. A majority of the phone calls feel and sound real. There was own that had a grieving father on the phone and it just felt so god damn real, it hurt. The phone prompts do make it easier to pick the best answer but during times when the line is drawn between a fake and a real emergency is when it gets difficult. It is quite enjoyable to pick up the phone from someone who is worried about a fire breaking out and you step-by-step direct them to extinguishing the fire. Answering the phones is 100% the best part about the game.
Incidents have timers that are not noticeable, so leave it too long without dispatching anyone and it goes away forever. This leads into the end of the round where everything you did is tallied and money is made through worker efficiency and how many people were ticketed. You can purchase more vehicles, better guns, med-kits for the ambulances to help with care for the injured, and other items to help in game.
All of this outside of the tutorial is hectic. I played the career mode and was stressed out the entire damn time. The phone would ring while fourteen incidents would be happening at the same moment. Prioritizing crises is something that comes with time and I still do not have it down pat. Placement of vehicles is important also. I fucked up so many times by putting a fire truck and police cruiser in a far away land and when I needed them to go across the city I could not help anyone.
Holy shit let me tell you how many locations there are to play in… A LOT. As of 2017 there was 15,400 different locations to play in and it has been expanding thanks to OpenStreetMap.
911 Operator is game that I just don’t know how to judge. The game is most certainly frantic, fun and rewarding but after playing for a certain amount of time, it begins to get old. Dialogues and incidents begin to repeat and the game becomes stale. The THOUSANDS of maps allow for different games almost every time, but it doesn’t always feel like enough. The game is easy enough but when it gets difficult, it gets SUPER difficult. I was playing a free game and there were sixteen incidents on the screen, I had a phone call, my police officers were getting shot at and killed and all of my ambulances were occupied. I ended up Alt-F4ing.
Honestly, I am having a love/hate relationship with this game. There is a lot of stuff packed into this game: Maps, lots of dialogue and incidents but it loses steam after you’ve played for only a few hours. Weighing calls and incidents in terms of crisis level is fun and nerve racking when there are so many on the fucking screen. All-in-all, fun game if you want a game that is most certainly different, only for a moment.
Oh, by the way, the loading screens are helpful tips on how to save peoples fucking lives… and information about traffic stops and shit.