By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 8.00

ER is the latest TV show to get the game treatment, and who better to do it then Legacy Interactive, creator of the Law & Order games. And while ER has some issues, it is immersive enough to draw people in who don’t watch the show religiously, and is graciously priced at $30.

The game itself looks decent albeit with a few issues. The hospital environment feels authentic, and it’s pretty easy to navigate using the mini-map. Clicking a room on the mini-map will make your character walk there immediately, and you can also use it to easily place patients in a room where you can treat them. However, the camera can only be rotated by placing your mouse cursor over the two rotate buttons, which can sometimes interfere with what you’re doing. Movement is limited by a movement circle, and unfortunately you can’t just hold the mouse button and move, you must keep clicking within the movement circle. Also, sometimes the main command interface (located in the center at the bottom of the screen) can obstruct the edge of the movement circle, making it take a few extra clicks to get where you want to go.

Legacy clearly went all out for sound work in ER. Actors from the show actually voice characters in the game, and not only do a fair amount of dialogue, but do it well. It seems like the actors actually cared about the role they were undertaking for the game, which can’t be said for most licensed games. Sound effects are equally well done, and the music is soothing and doesn’t intrude with gameplay at all.

ER may resemble The Sims in some ways, but it is very much its own game. The majority of the game is spent healing patients. You start the game by creating your own character (or before that, you can go through a very in depth tutorial that will orient you with every aspect of the game). Character creation is unfortunately pretty limited, as you can only change hair color, eye color, and the color of their lab coat. You can also distribute points to certain skills, which determines how good they are at treating six different conditions. Once you’re done with that, you jump right in.

Basically, you pick patients, have them sent to an exam room (or to the lab if you can’t diagnose them yourself), and then begin treatment. There are different levels of injury, and some you won’t be able to treat yourself (you may need to let a more experienced doctor handle it), and this may happen a lot at first, but eventually you’ll get into the swing of things. For each successful patient treated you gain experience which can be applied towards the initial skills you chose. Some patients will give you items after being treated, which can be used towards your character or given to others.

Interaction with your co-workers in the hospital is encouraged (it’s even one of your tasks at times), but it really doesn’t seem to influence what happens. Sure, if you make good friends with a co-worker you get some minor benefits, but you can still easily treat patients and advance in the game while being anti-social. It is nice to see all the options you have when talking to a character, but it’s not particularly interesting and everything is expressed graphically during these conversations. ER doesn’t exactly have a quick pace, so not everyone will find it appealing.

Not only that, but you do need to manage your own doctor as well. There are three different things to worry about; hygiene, energy, and composure. Hygiene can be gained back simply by washing your hands after treating a patient, but eventually you must go and take a shower in order to keep it high. Energy can be gained by taking a nap in the doctor’s lounge or eating a meal from the cafeteria or vending machines. And composure can be regained by going to the gym. Luckily, these requirements aren’t hard to keep high and it will be easy to keep your doctor going.

There is one problem with the game. At times your doctor is bombarded with things to do, and some missions will get you fired from the hospital (ending the game) if you fail to complete them. While moving from room to room is easy, finding a specific person in the hospital can be a bit tricky. Also, while you’re taking care of one task, another person may be yelling at you complaining that you’re not doing the other one, which is annoying.

ER can get kind of repetitive, as the entire game is built around healing patients and talking to office staff, and that’s basically all you do. There is a story, and fans of the show will enjoy it. Ultimately, ER has enough atmosphere to propel it above its problems, and especially at $30 is worth checking out.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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