The game's overall look is quite a bit bleaker than that of the first State of Emergency. Part of the appeal of the original game was its colorful graphics and cartoon-like violence. This sequel is a lot grittier, to the point where the levels are dreary and overly depressing. There's just not enough sunlight in this game, the colors and cartoon look of the original is replaced by something that made me feel dirty.
Also gone are the riots that made the first game so memorable. Most of the game is you against a group of guards and police officers, not the hundreds of citizens running around creating hell. There are a few times in the game when you take part in riots, but they are on a much smaller scale than what you saw in the original game. Even stranger is how these civilians act, they really just run around shaking their fists. Absent is that feeling of urgency the original had, this just feels like your basic third-person shooter with crummy controls and bad graphics.
Speaking of graphics, the look of State of Emergency 2 is just awful. When the original game was released in 2002 it was technically quite impressive, featuring what seemed like hundreds of characters running around on screen doing all kinds of damage. Four years later this effect is somewhat less unique, but since this sequel rarely matches the amount of characters (or detail) it just feels like a big step backwards. None of the main characters look good; they have this unflattering blocky look that makes the game feel real dated.
Also bad are the game's backgrounds, most of which use repeating textures with only a little detail. The game's dark look leads to too many levels that simply look the same, and none of them are areas you really want to visit (in real life or in a video game). The original game's wacky sense of humor is left behind for a gritty look at good vs. evil.
Although the game is difficult (and extremely frustrating) it's not very long, most people will be able to bust through it in only a few hours. The story mode has a few predictable twists and turns and lets you play as four different characters, but it's still awfully short and disappointing. To the game's credit there is also an arcade mode with a number of unlockable challenges to be enjoyed. There are a few free-for-all missions in the arcade mode, but too many of them end up being the vehicle and turret missions that were no fun in the story mode. If you're desperate you can scrounge together some fun in the arcade mode, but it ultimately feels tacked on at the last minute.
Almost not worth mentioning is the extremely dull multiplayer games. State of Emergency 2 gives gamers a chance to play a four-player split screen version of the game with modes that range from the standard deathmatch to the standard capture the flag. You and your friends may be able to get a few fun matches out of this mode, but chances are your guests will be screaming for something better before too long.
My biggest gripe with State of Emergency 2 is that it tries a little too hard not to be like the original game. It's shocking out different this game is from the first game; to the point where it probably shouldn't even have the same name. Everything that made the first game so much fun has been scrapped in order to feature humdrum missions that are never worth your time. I'm disappointed by the game's dark tone, new control system, lame story, and trial and error game play. The first game may not have been the high water mark, but this sequel manages to get everything wrong. Folks, there's no good reason to get in the middle of this riot.
State of Emergency is messier than the day after a riot. New gamers will be turned off by the trial and error game play while fans of the original won't recognize this mission-based sequel. Either way, just avoid this completely average PlayStation 2 game!
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