PS2 REVIEW: STATE OF EMERGENCY 2

If you didn't like the original, State of Emergency, you're going to absolutely hate State of Emergency 2. In fact, if you liked the original, State of Emergency, you're probably going to hate State of Emergency 2 anyway. by Cole Smith

March 7, 2006 - SOE 2 is a letdown, plain and simple. While it's arguably a bad move for a sequel to stay close to its original formula it can also be a very bad idea to stray too far from the original gameplay which is what defined the game and cultivated an audience in the first place. The original SOE was thought of as a second-rate GTA. It featured gangs, riots, and lots of melee combat in a mission-style formula. It was silly and outrageous but it was fun in some respects. The insane number of people onscreen was one of its main gimmicks. It had an arcade style that was easy to pick-up-and-play and there wasn't an involved storyline. SOE 2 has all but dropped the melee combat in favor of shooting. There is also a convoluted storyline that really doesn't really do anything. Not to mention the embarrassing voiceacting - but you know I will.

It's still the Freedom against the oppressive government known as the Corporation. Events take place a number of years later than the last game. MacNeil has been sentenced to execution but the gang has been able to free him from certain death. With renewed forces, new weapons and vehicles the war between the two factions continues, but it's not business as usual as the gameplay has been transformed into a third-person shooter.

The weapons range from pistols to rockets with auto and semi-automatic rifles in between as well as clubs, bats and knives. The shooting can be too forgiving in some instances. The auto-aim is really difficult when you're running and gunning so you have to do some careful aiming with some of the guns such as the sniper rifle. But for the most part, the shooting is arcade-like which seriously reduces the challenge in the game. When faced with a crowd just point and click. Things will pretty much take care of themselves.

With lots of enemies onscreen the greatest challenge is dealing with these large numbers more than anything else. Enemies will come out from all nooks and crannies but they don't display much in the way of intelligence. They don't try to flank you nor do they take cover if they aren't already behind something. They continue to move toward you making it easier for you to hit them with each step. Some of them will even fire in the wrong direction. Maybe they're firing at your guys which can be just as stupid but they are incapable of taking on permanent damage.

For a taste of real-time strategy, Spanky, the overweight Latino, can issue orders to his gang. These orders are obeyed but they don't stop your mates from standing out in the open and getting hit. There is also a little bit of stealth in the gameplay but it's very shallow. It involves sneaking up on enemies but instead of a stealth kill, all you can do is shoot them with the silencer. There are times when you'll have to peer around a corner to see where the enemy is. You can lean out and shoot but sometimes the mechanics make you lean too far and you'll get hit with a hail of bullets.

There are four characters that you can play as with different abilities. Libra is the young thug chick that can leap great distances and climb buildings. Bull is like the black version of The Thing. He can smash doors open with his bare fists. The other two playable characters are MacNeil and Spanky. While they all have different abilities the game doesn't require that you change them as often as in some games. Most often you'll change them just because one of them is losing his or her health. The environmental puzzles are few and far between. Events are scripted and that results in a lot of trial and error. There is a lot of guesswork involved in some missions where no particular character would have any advantage. In some areas you will have to choose from a series of closed doors, with deadly guards behind all but a few of them. You can't pick up any extra health and the only way you can get past these doors is to pick the right ones which means having to replay such segments over and over again while trying to remember which doors were safe. Get past one section and you'll find a series of more doors. This is like a stupid mini-game that should be featured in some Disney title.

In addition to shooting there are some vehicles to drive that include a chopper, speedboat and a tank. It's nice to have the variety but these vehicles control about as badly as the vehicles in GTA. They just don't have the right feel.

An arcade mode gets the story out of the way but doesn't do anything different with the gameplay. Multi-player modes include Deathmatch and King of the Hill in split screen fashion. This is the best part of the game but in comparison there are so many games that do the Deathmatch thing so much better. Still, it's an added bonus if you happen to receive this game as a gift and don't bother to return it.

More of the action takes place at night and that's why the game appears so much darker. It is a little hard to see things in the distance. Graphically the game looks as though it wants to distance itself from the original cartoon style of the original but it still looks like a GTA rip-off. Keep in mind this game was not developed by Rockstar, nor was the original. They just published it. I guess they didn't want to be associated with this one.

Riots do occur in SOE 2, but they appear to attract less people than the original and the ones that do show up are more confused than ever. The riots are mess. Nobody seems to know what to do and where to go. There is no organization, even among the inmates that could use the ensuing chaos to make an escape. It makes you wonder why they even bothered to include them.

The character models may look as brutal as they did in the original but that was just to keep the framerate steady. You would think that after three years they might be able to get a little more detail into the crowd, but such is not the case. The animation is jerky and robotic. The dialog is juvenile but the voiceacting is some of the worst I've heard. The director must have been sick that day and let the non-English-speaking cleaning lady handle voiceover recordings.

State of Emergency 2 does offer a lot of features but fun is not one of them.

Features:

  • Switch between characters during the missions to utilize their unique talents and special abilities
  • Drop a few Corporation soldiers from long range with MacNeil's sharp-shooting and then overrun Capitol Plaza by using Spanky's gang control
  • Deeper, more engaging story mode with larger and more detailed levels that are filled with completely destructible environments and objects
  • New, high performance graphics engine which can render up to 500 characters in each level
  • Bigger and better weapons, including rocket launchers, mines, grenades, c-4, Molotov cocktails, as well as various clubs, knives, and numerous guns
  • Multi-player arcade mode which will enable players to riot for hours with their friends.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
State Of Emergency 2 (PS2)
3.4
Graphics
Although the graphics aren't as cartoonish as the original, they still look dated. Animations are jerky and stiff.
2.7
Control
Some weapons require skill, some just require you to press the button and run. Operating any of the vehicles is not fun.
2.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voiceacting is so bad that you can't take the story seriously, not that that would ever happen anyway.
2.5
Play Value
Up to four players can take part in the multi-player modes. Just try to find three other interested parties.
2.4
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2
Dev: DC Studios
Pub: Southpeak Int.
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best