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State of Emergency (PlayStation 2) artwork

State of Emergency (PlayStation 2) review

"''Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow, this is SO cool. Really, cool. It'll get harder any second now. Any minute now. Any HOUR now! Any DAY NOW! WHEN DOES THIS GAME TURN INTO A DAMM GAME?''"

How best to write this one, then? Maybe I could start with a sort of potted history of video games, and detail how they have gone from what was basically 7 large white dots moving on a black background, and have evolved into spectacular polygon-filled frenzied affairs, the likes of which you would have creamed over not even 10 years ago? And with that, I could then say how this game is technically dazzling, having upwards of 100 seperate people all running about in seemingly well-observed crowd routines. Really, it is a sight to behold, and the programmers did a stunning job.

Or, perhaps, especially given the subject matter of this game, I could discuss the way the video games have evolved from the basic 'solo pilot kills invading alien hordes' plot into futuristic dystopian visions, with nightmare scenarios, and how games have grown-up to include such adult themes as politics, revolutions, and ..... well, outright violence, actually? And then, I could talk about the complexities involved in such things, and maybe congratulate the designers on their storytelling. They have done a pretty good job here, too.

Finally, maybe I can wax lyrical about how the most important aspect of all is how WE have evolved. We no longer accept the stuff we used to, and as such, want - nay - DEMAND ever-increasing levels of complexity from our games. Long-gone are the days of a joystick with just one fire butoon, these days most controllers are running out of places to put extra buttons.So, is State Of Emergency the culmination of all the above? Ah, well, you see......

My first, in fact, my only complaint with this game revolves entirely around the play mechanics. What we have here is a supreme example of style over substance. The sight of hundreds of rioters all doing their own thing is quite astonishing, and is probably a masterpiece of programming logic. The storyline is a touch clichéd, but then again, so are 95% of games these days, so I won't fault that either. However, even with all the leaps and bounds made over the last 12 years or so since Final Fight was released, what we have here is basically Final Fight in prettier pants.

This isn't neccessarily a bad thing, of course. Final Fight went on to inspire countless clones, and even paved the way for Street Fighter 2, which was truly epoch-making as games go. But, you have to question : is that really what gamers want these days? Personally, I don't think so.

No doubt the storm of controversy caused by this game has made you want to see it for yourself. I was intrigued, that's for certain. And, it is undeniably fun to decapitate policemen by the ton. No-one can really justify getting upset by the levels of violence, because they are very cartoon-like. This reviewer was happy to ignore the 18 certification, and let his 7 year old son loose on the game. Damm me to hell if you like, but check this out first : he got bored with the game, and soon wanted to go back to GTA3.

Yes, sad to report, the major fault with this game is that flame-throwing innocents is only fun for precisely as long as you can stand it. To play this game, it is merely a matter of pressing  and X repeatedly. Hell, buy an auto-fire joystick and set those buttons, you'll not even need to hold the pad. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a bit more challenge than that! In arcade mode, you'll tire of it inside an hour. In the story game, you'll last a little longer, but will quickly get fed up of running to point A, killing cop A, running to point B, killing cop B, taking NPC A to point A, killing cops C through Z on the way. And, then your retarded NPC goes and dies anyway, so you have to repeat the mission from the start again. Frustration quickly takes over from the fun.

The game scores high on all things technical. It really does hint at the future of games, there is so much going on, and you would not have imagined such scenes possibly even as little as 5 years ago. Perhaps if Capcom were to licence the engine, and put their geniuses onto it, we could get a Final Fight game like this. (Goes away for 5 minutes to cold shower after that thought.) But, Rockstar Games are not Capcom, and as such seem to have only been able to hit the bigtime with GTA. They have definitely not repeated that magic here. Which is a shame, because this game could have been so much more.

This game may sell on the back of it's controversy. I sincerely hope not. You SHOULD play it, if only to see the wonderful crowd routines. But, rent it rather than buy it. Maybe if the programmers discover that everyone did that, they'll put a bit more effort into the sequel, and give us a game we can get our teeth into. Someone with flair needs this engine!

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Community review by cheekylee (Date unavailable)

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