Reviewed: March 18, 2006
Released: February 14, 2006
I recall back to the first time I heard about the original State of Emergency. This game came from the controversial developers over at RockStar, and featured full-scale riots. What could go wrong? Well, quite a lot apparently. The A.I was suspect, the storyline anemic, and the graphics looked dated. Sadly, more of the same returns in State of Emergency 2, although with some new twists to the formula.
In this installment, SOE2 comes to us from a new developer and publisher, SouthPeak Interactive (no relation with South Park) and DC studios (no relation to DC Comics…). Unfortunately for SouthPeak, their history of backing quality games is a tad lacking, with less than stellar titles like Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers, Boombots and The Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home. DC Studios is probably best known for it’s portable titles, that also are mediocre at best-Rayman DS, Army Men Advance and Bratz (PC). Not exactly heavyweights by industry standards. Unfortunately, State of Emergency 2 follows this same path of low-standards.
The central storyline holding everything together, well, it’s a tad vague. You are part of a terrorist group called “Freedom”, and must stop the evil corporation from marketing a zombie-inducing drug called “Empyrion.” Swell… You get to try out different characters as well: Bull, the muscle, Freak, the hacker, Libra, the rappelling expert, and Spanky, the interrogator (a la The Punisher). You can switch at your leisure, utilizing each of their unique abilities to add some spice to the gameplay, but ultimately it’s just more window dressing. More than anything, they act as last minute lifesavers, as they take ZERO damage when not player controlled… cool…?
Utilizing the familiar 3rd-person view, you will battle across 12 missions, chock full of mass pandemonium. While that sounds good for some, it grows tiresome, wading through so many bland enemies. There are a few instances of breaks in the monotony, such as utilizing some serious vehicle ownage, but the massive killwhoring still take precedence. Still-a tank, an attack helicopter and a sleek speedboat- are pretty spiffy regardless.
The opposing A.I is rather moronic-not a big surprise when you think back to the original game, filled with tons of onscreen characters whose sum I.Q.s amounted to pretty much zilch. Foes will charge you awkwardly, or just seem to meander around, as if enjoying a nice Sunday stroll, amidst exploding containers, cars, and even fellow pedestrians. Apparently, when your buddy gets popped in the head by an assault rifle…it’s not really a big deal. Maybe he can just walk it off.
Along with the main story mode, is a collection of mini-games accessed through the Arcade menu option. These range from using attack helicopters to blow crap up, to using machine-gun turrets to blow crap up, tanks to blow crap up and…well, you get the picture. Think Beachhead meets GTA. Fun for a brief foray, but untimely a waste of time, much like this whole package.
Controls are decent enough, although personally, I’m not a big fan of the rather loose feel of the PS2 analog aiming system. Thankfully, as long as you just spray ‘n pray, you should come out just dandy. Just be ready for the frustrating sniper moments, where precise control can lead to frustration. Some of the vehicles feel sluggish as well, especially the tank, but as long as you point in the general area of the enemy, something good will happen.
Graphically, State of Emergency 2 does not resemble a late-generation PS2 title. It actually looks somewhat “cartoony”, borrowing some visuals from the first title, but throws a slightly more realistic tone to the graphics. Aside from a few dazzling explosive and weapon effects, the graphics look overly muddled. Even the characters seem rather blocky and out of focus, animating jaggedly at times too. This goes for the enemies you encounter, who seem like carbon copies of each other, devoid of personality.
Level design is also another testament to mediocrity. They include drab interiors of buildings/office complexes, destructible environments (a small bonus) and urban sprawls. Some areas are too shadowy, especially after you go on a rampage, and bust every light fixture around.
You have your standard assortment of loud noises comes into full effect early-and often-in SOE2. Some of the guns do sound underpowered, though. The voice acting is also a tad laughable as well, babbling on against stopping the nefarious corporation at every turn. Or the generic quips your various characters bust out, are also funny…but not in a good way. Lastly, the announcer is a spaz-plain and simple.
Musically, the driving beat keeps you focused on the mass slaughter at hand, without distracting. When there is killin to be done, I don’t want to be confused by some “Enya-esque”soundtrack. Keep it rock and rolling, and we are good to go.
After you breeze past the 12 story-mode missions, you can try your hand at the plethora of mini-games, but those are basically just another form of the singleplayer killing spree.
Thankfully, there is a multiplayer aspect, although lacking in online play. (Which, in hindsight may not be so terrible. You don’t really want people to know you own this...right?) There are several options here, such as your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, along with the Last Man Standing mode.
If bribing your buddies to come over doesn’t work, you can always pop some A.I. controlled bots into the arenas. But honestly, that’s just another dose of the singleplayer action, with no real context to strive for, such as completing a level. Couple this with the already pathetic A.I., and the value of this title really stinks.
Well…it’s only $30. And the way the reviews are coming in-from critics and gamers alike-that price should drop precipitously in the next few months. If you like your action in heavy doses, and as low brow as possible, then State of Emergency 2 may be right up your alley. However, if you are one of the many gamers spoiled by such rich action titles like Devil May Cry, God of War, and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, it becomes hard to justify shelling out the dough for this generic game.
If rentals didn’t cost an arm and a leg these days either ($7 at the local Blockbuster for instance), I would possibly recommend going that route. Best to save that money, and share the experience of true artistic quality, such as the recent “Date Movie”, or the award winning documentary on alien-genetically enhanced-superhuman-demonic creatures, a.k.a “ Doom.”