Greatly improved review. Really love seeing game reviews in boing boing, please keep them coming. As noted in the review, Flash Point: Fire Rescue does a wonderful job of forcing players to make hard choices, however, in my experience the range of choices are somewhat limited. Meaning, players typically have to choose between mounting rescues or fighting the blaze. Moreover, the optimal choices can often be fairly obvious. This is not to say that things can not get out of hand very quickly, they can; however, the players ability to overcome challenges have more to do with chance then the quality of their decision making. That said, it is a fun gaming experience and so long a players know that their success may be dependent upon the roll of the dice (which determines where the fire will crop up) or the flip of a tile (which will determine whether a rescue will be successful) then a good time will be had by all. The components are solid, the game play is smooth, the theme is immersive and the mechanics are novel.
I have noticed a focus in these reviews upon co-op games. In light of this I wanted to give a few thoughts about co-ops so that people heading into this style of game go into it with their eyes opened.
First, co-op are a great deal of fun, they are a great way to bring new players into "designer" board games. These games make it easier for players to become familiar with the tactics and styles of these more complex games.
Second, co-op games are typically pretty darn hard to beat. While, most co-op's have scaled difficulty levels (like Flash Point), striking the balance between too easy and incredibly hard is a daunting task. Therefore, when taking on a co-op know that losing (or not winning as you might hope) is very possible, if not highly likely. While the base version of Flash Point: Fire Rescue is on the low end of this spectrum (like other co-ops including the base version of Pandemic and Castle Panic) other co-ops are nigh near impossible to beat (like Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island and Ghost Stories).
Finally, co-op games are plagued by the alpha gamer problem, meaning a scenario where a dominant players directs the actions of others. Flash Point: Fire Rescue is troubled by this fault. Some games try to overcome this by requiring simultaneous play. Escape: Curse of the Temple is an example. Another example is Space Cadets (though I would recommend the superior Space Cadet:Dice Duels, while technically a team game it still has co-op features). Other games require the players to act autonomously in order to overcome this problem. Examples of co-op games that use this technique are Hanabi, Sentinels of the Multiverse and Dungeon Fighter.
This said, there are a ton of great co-op games. And while the style is not for everyone, every gamer's collection should have at least a few co-ops within it and if you are a family gamer, Flash Point is a great place to start. (Castle Panic, Forbidden Desert or Mice & Mystics are good choices as well).