PC REVIEW: E.R.

First there was Law & Order, then CSI and now TV addicts can enjoy interacting with another popular drama, ER.

This is a tough game to review only because it's not really aimed at the serious gamer. It's definitely geared towards viewer of the series which keeps it from getting too deep and discouraging. It plays out like a linear RPG and gets repetitive. The challenge is based on acquiring more skills in terms of numbers than any actual gaming skills such as puzzle solving.

ER does its best to give you a insiders' look at the world of an intern. Inside the hospital you will literally live, eat and breathe this profession. You might begin to feel claustrophobic since you can't leave the premises. It's important to keep your health up which will require alternate bouts of eating and sleeping. Hygiene, energy and composure are metered and will affect your performance and relationship with others.

The more positive your relationship with superiors is the more honed your skills will become. Skills will deteriorate if your relationship sours with those that are influential in your career. Skills are essential to help diagnose and heal patients thus furthering your missions and stature as an intern.

You begin the game by creating a character based on skin color, eyes, hair and of course sex. There are six different medical skills with 10 levels each that you can fill up. At times you will be required to use more than one skill. Boosts in the form of regenerating your comfort meter or boosting your energy are available as power-ups but many of these boosts can only be used once.

Interaction is similar to that in The Sims as characters communicate with one another using a conversation tree filled with different options that range from polite to downright rude. As I mentioned, the game is linear so if you want to continue the storyline you're going to have to become a likeable kind of guy.

Missions include diagnosing patients, locating patients, treating various diseases and disorders as well as sending samples to the lab or assigning patients to doctors that require attention beyond your skill level. Some of these missions overlap each other and there are time limits that you must heed. In this way the game does a good job of replicating the chaotic environment of an actual emergency room. Failure to complete the most important tasks or making a serious mistake can result in your getting fired which means it's game over.

Serious gamers will find the pace slow. It takes several hours to complete an entire shift. It almost feels as though everything takes place in real time. The camera is not user-friendly. It will take some time to get used to as you have to click on the bottom corners of the screen to rotate your view. The graphics are good but the real clincher is the professional voiceovers from the cast of the televised show which include Mekhi Phifer, Noah Wyle and Sherry Stringfield. These actors really put in a lot of work. There are literally hours of conversations which should satisfy any fan of the show.

You don't have to be a fan of the show to appreciate the game. If you've never tackled a RPG strategy game before this is a good place to start. Not to mention that ER is budget priced. It's a good deal for the right gamer.

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System: PC
Dev: Legacy
Pub: Vivendi Universal
Release: June 2005
Players: 1
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
1.5