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Rockstar reinvents the beat 'em up

By James Stevenson     March 18, 2002

State of Emergency
© 2002 Rockstar

Another effort from the criminal minds at Rockstar games has been released, and instead of working for the mob or smuggling goods, this time gamers will get the long-awaited chance to incite riots. If you're looking for any game that is close to being squeaky clean, this is not it, STATE OF EMERGENCY is filled with blood, guts, and decapitations, but its also one of the most fun games to be released for the Playstation 2.

The world has been taken over by an evil corporation that is now bent on mind-control. So to break the cycle you will head into one of four districts (China Town, Shopping Mall, etc.) in an attempt to foil the plans of the evildoers. You'll accomplish this by hunting down executives, destroying stores, and hacking into computers. All while a riot is in progress around you and soldiers attempt to beat you down.

What makes the SOE so much fun is the ease of play. You have a kick and punch button, combos are relatively easy to pull off and weapons (such as chairs, clubs, axes, guns and even the occasional dismembered head) are strewn throughout the levels for your use. The combat is simple, but it can get frantic quickly when you're surrounded by ten members of a death squad who have the sole purpose of making sure you leave the area in many small boxes.

While killing random guards and people is fun, the meat and bones is the mission mode. You hook-up with various contacts to get mission details. Sometimes this involves picking up a hacking kit, defending a hacker or bomber, or finding an item in the area. Other times the mission will involve destroying something or killing a person important to the corporation. These missions become progressively difficult and must be cleared to unlock characters and reach consecutive areas.

The problem arises when you start playing the game for hour after hour. It begins to get old quick. The fun part about the game being easy to pick up and play is ultimately its undoing as STATE OF EMERGENCY is far too shallow at times. It's great to play for a while, but you'll soon find yourself reaching for your copy of GRAND THEFT AUTO III.

While STATE OF EMERGENCY impresses by putting hundreds of characters on screen at a time, there is little detail to these characters. The game is very cartoon looking and that probably helped get it approved and past the ESRB. The game keeps moving though, and that is to its credit, but it's at the sacrifice of everything else.

Take a shopping mall and pull the fire alarm. That's about the general background noise in STATE OF EMERGENCY. It gets annoying quick. There are some good sound effects of skulls being bashed and buildings being destroyed, but other than that it's pretty bland.

STATE OF EMERGENCY is a fun game that won't last you very long. Its worth the time to try it out, but be wary of purchasing this short-lived beat 'em up.


Grade: B

Platform: Playstation 2

ESBR Rating: Mature

Genre: Action

Players: 1

Save: Yes

Developer: VIS

Publisher: Rockstar

Suggested Retail Price: $49.99




Graphics: A-

Sound: C

Gameplay: B

Replay: C

Fun Factor: A

Reviewer's Wild Card: A

Overall Grade: B




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