The Corporation, a sinister power-hungry organization, seized control of your country and is attempting to liquidate opposition to authority. But now an underground rebel movement has formed, inciting the public to protest in the name of freedom. A state of emergency has been declared, and now it is time to fight using hand to hand combat, over-the-top weapons, and anything you can find on the street!
Before the embers were barely cold on the controversy surrounding Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar is already fanning the flames on their newest over-the-top shooter, a brawler that’s a souped-up 3D version of Fighting Force. But once you get over the civilian-killing, and shooting genetically altered security forces, are you left with a game worthy of shelf space in your PS2 library?
The graphics are nothing to shoot your clip empty over. You’ll see lots of blocky, rough graphics and some level of detail, but most of the game looks like a cross between Fighting Force and Streets of Rage. Where the graphics shine are in the sheer amount of people you interact with in one level – over 200 hundred – and the excellent weapon and explosion effects. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a Humvee go up in a hail of gunfire, exploding and shedding shrapnel throughout the level. There’s also a good amount of detail in the character movements, from the way people duck and cover when the shots ring out to the way that characters will stop and clutch a body part that’s been shot. Unfortunately the backgrounds are limited to four areas, and although there are lots of hidden areas and hiding places, the camera will often get stuck and render you defenseless in some of the toughest situations – when you have a team of cops, special forces, and government agents chasing you, the last thing you want to do is get cornered, which happens a lot.
The sounds are adequate, but never exemplary. You’ll hear subtle details like individual screaming in the crowd, eardrum busting explosions, and good gun effects, but what you’ll find yourself missing are wise-ass comments from your main characters, or interaction with enemies in the game. When you’re this over-the-top, what you need is a dose of the Blitz announcer – someone who can give you running commentary that’s just as entertaining as the action.
Control is a slight problem in State of Emergency, mostly because of the unwieldy camera. Picking up weapons is one button press, and shooting another. You can strafe (for the Last Clone Standing levels) and run using the triggers, but that’s about the extent of the controls. The game’s real function is to allow you to run through levels and blast the crap out of everything, and for the most part the controls let you do that. The problem is when you’re running from the police, and they’re trailing behind you, and you find a weapon and think you’re home free – then you realize you have to turn around, and turning around is a problem when you’re being chased. In tight games when you’re low on health it becomes very frustrating.
So all that’s left in the game is the game play, and although State of Emergency is far from perfection in that area, there’s a certain amount of sick thrill in gunning through each level, especially the Last Clone Standing levels where no one shoots back. The Kaos mode, where you have to stay alive for a certain amount of time and complete objectives is equally tense and entertaining, but unfortunately the Revolution levels, a mission-based game that has you running as errand boy for the resistance movement is lame and extremely slow. There’s also the issue of length and depth – with only three boards and one hidden level, the game seems over before the fun’s begun – and if shooting through the crowd is your idea of fun (note that the CHECK ID tag is underneath the shrink wrap, retailers), then not only do you need therapy, you need State of Emergency.