State of Emergency
by Take 2 Interactive/ Rockstar
Still glowing in the praise for GTA 3, Rockstar bring us another 'adult' themed game that's sure to raise a few eyebrows. State of Emergency puts you in a world of panic. Set in a maniacal not too distant future, where governments have been replaced by over imposing big businesses, SoE places you as a rebel, an instrument of the freedom network that seeks to fight the oppression that is being imposed by the Corporation (which is what the big businesses have become known as).
The game offers two modes which although they are similar are really two different games. Chaos is primarily concerned with achieving high scores whilst Revolution is mission based. Both of these modes see you in one of four locations. These locations are the Mall, China Town, East Side and Corporation Central. Initially though only the Mall is available. You can choose to play as one of five characters and again three are unavailable at the beginning so you have a straight choice between McNeil, who is an ex-officer of the law and has joined the Freedom Network, and Libra, a former attorney who was found guilty of conspiracy, who also has sympathies for the Freedom Network.
As mentioned earlier the Chaos mode is all about high scores. It is split into three sections. First there is Kaos which gives you three minutes to amass a high score. You can collect extra time and health by beating up officials and members of the Corporation so in effect the game goes on for as long as are able to keep collecting time and avoid getting your health reduced to zero. There is also a fixed three minute and five minute session in which you are unable to increase your time. Should you hit innocent members of the frantic public then you are penalised with a score deduction. If your total score is the highest on the high score chart then you will unlock the next level. One thing you should note though is that unlocking a level in Chaos mode does not unlock the level for Revolution mode.
In Revolution it's all about performing tasks. If you come to the Revolution part of the game first you'll be forgiven for thinking that SoE is a poor imitation of GTA 3. You again are in the Mall with a couple of hundred people running round in circles going absolutely nuts. This time though the idea is to complete missions. You get these missions from one of the freedom fighters, he has a clenched fist icon over his head. The missions are given solely in text and remain on screen until you press a button to accept or refuse the mission. The missions involve various tasks such as escorting hackers, delivering data and explosives and eliminating people. To be honest most of the missions are quite easy and only take a few minutes to carry out. If you fail a mission you simply return to the freedom fighter to be given the mission again. You have to complete all the missions on a given level in order to unlock the next level. This may sound like the superb GTA 3 but the missions are not half as satisfying but nevertheless a different change of pace from the Chaos mode is most welcome.
Trying to define what genre SoE fits into is difficult. At it's heart it is a simplistic basic beat 'em up but you could also classify the game as a 3rd person action game. What is impressive with SoE though is the game's capacity to handle so many people running around simultaneously. GTA 3 suffered a slight loss in frame rate when the onscreen activity got hectic but SoE does no such thing and remains wonderfully smooth.
The introduction is not subtitled though and although it is fairly short it does set the scene for the game. Once in the game though things are better. As we mentioned earlier the mission briefings are subtitled so you'll have no problems there. In Chaos mode though the information is given in a kind of vague manner. Occasionally you are verbally given bonus score opportunities such as 'blow up cars for bonus score'. Visually this is presented as 'Cars x 3' which can seem like it means something else. Just bear in mind if you see 'Windows x 5' or 'Cars x 3' then it means that the objects in question have to be destroyed.
State of Emergency is one of those games that will either grab you or leave you disinterested. Personally I found it was great for half hour bursts but not suitable for long durations. If you like arcade style beat 'em ups and can't stand games that demand prolonged play (or don't have the time for prolonged play) then SoE is the game for you. My immediate feelings were that it was similar to GTA 3 but further play revealed I was wrong. It's not the masterpiece that GTA 3 is but it still is a very good game in it's own right.
Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10 Original, easy to get into and enjoyable is perhaps the best way to describe State of Emergency. The developers deserve an award for technical brilliance as the riots that take place, which have loads of people running around chaotically, do not cause a single drop in the framerate. It shouldn't be likened to GTA 3 because it is a more arcade experience but satisfying nonetheless.
Deaf Gamers comment: Again we see an introduction that does not have any subtitles. In game though, it is a different matter and is perfectly playable and enjoyable for the deaf gamer. Just bear in mind our comments on the visual notification on the bonus score opportunities in the Chaos mode and you will be OK.