Review by Nicola Warren
For those of you who have always wanted to work in the emergency services now is your chance to! Your chance to fight crime, extinguish fires and stop destruction…. or is it? Flashing Lights is an emergency services game brought to you by developer Nils Jarkins, which is currently still in the early access stage so please go into this game with an open mind that there will be some bugs… actually a lot of bugs. In this open world game you can expect to find yourself in a variety of different places from driving around the city to industrial areas or driving through some lovely mountain terrains with very detailed foliage to driving miles through a desert.
When starting the game the first decision you need to make is if you either want to be a police officer, fire fighter or a medic, but don’t worry if you are unsure and want to do them all you can easily switch between the different professions mid game through the menu. You then get to choose your sex, body style and your uniform, I use the word uniform loosely as you only get to choose your hat style. There aren’t many options to choose from to begin with but as you level and gain xp throughout the game you do unlock a few others , there is also the choice to choose which vehicle you use but apart from the aesthetics there is no other advantage to having a different style or make vehicle.
Flashing lights does kick start straight away with you receiving a call out within seconds which is great to not have you waiting around for the game to get into gear but the downside is that there is not any kind of tutorial to tell you what to do. I spent about 5 minutes at the beginning of the game trying to figure out how to open my car door and get in. You do get a couple of on screen prompts though for certain things like when you reach the destination of your first call out it will prompt you to chase after the suspect, but again it doesn’t tell you in detail what you actually need to do or how to go about doing it. As you get more into the game you get numerous call outs for all kinds of situations which vary in danger, but you soon realise after playing for an hour or so that each of the different emergency departments only have a dozen or so different call out scenarios and you end up repeating the same ones over, also the Medic seems to only have one type of call out incident which is a vehicle incident. The main thing that did disappoint me is that you only have the use of a stun gun throughout the whole game and on most of the missions you only get one or two shots before it’s charge is gone and because of this you are left to think of inventive ways in which you can catch your suspect while awaiting the backup to arrive.. If it ever does arrive.
Being in the early access stages there are bugs in Flashing lights and a fair few of them sadly stick out like a sore thumb. Firstly the controls are extremely sensitive, the smallest tap on the manoeuvre keys and your vehicle will go flying off in that direction which really isn’t great when you are trying to partake in a high speed chase, There is definitely a lack of control. Sometimes you will fire your stun gun at a suspect but even though it clearly hits them it will still say that you have missed them which is very frustrating seeing as you only get a couple of shots worth in the first place. Several of the traffic lights within the game get stuck on red for some reason so when you make a call for backup it either makes it very delayed or it never arrives as the vehicles are always sat at the red lights and a lot of the vehicles keep crashing through things like they are ghost objects. Yet the two main things that really did stick out to me was how unbalanced the graphics in the game are and how bad the physics are. On one hand all the graphics of the trees and foliage are amazing and extremely detailed down to each leaf or blade of grass, then the graphics of the rest of the game are very lacking and blockesque. Then you have the physics! Jumping in the game is quite the experience in itself, as soon as you jump for some reason it is like your character is jumping over a giant invisible 4ft tall hurdle.. It has to be seen to be believed. Then if by any chance you get hit my a vehicle your character will go hurtling into the sky like an out of control spinning top and go into the giant void of the sky for minutes before it even decides to start to fall back down to the ground!
Overall, the game clearly needs improvements and is definitely noticeable to be in the early access stages, but I do feel that there is a lot of potential if the bugs are ironed out and a few things changed/implemented. Even though there are 3 different emergency departments you can go between the game is still quite repetitive so I feel that more call outs should definitely be implemented and even maybe a few more services like a medic helicopter or sea emergency service would be good. Online play is available and I feel it would be great fun to play with friends but currently I wouldn’t even try the online play again until it is seriously improved as it lags so much you can’t actually do anything. The game currently only runs in daytime so introducing a day and night cycle and even different weather effects would be great and I feel it would bring a bit more of a challenge to the call outs. Luckily the developers are actively working on the game with a steady flow of updates being released monthly fixing bugs and bringing more improvements. The next release is at the end of the March which is bringing different weapons to the game instead of just a stun gun which I feel already will change the game massively.
I give Flashing Lights a 4/10 – but this will definitely rise once the game is completed.