I'm not afraid to admit it; I actually enjoyed the first State of Emergency. As a budget game with arcade game play the first game was enjoyable in the same sort of way Crazy Taxi was fun. If you could get past the silly story, shallow control and tedious game play, then you could be entertained for a short amount of time by some mindless fun. It certainly didn't measure up to the hype that was built around it, but the original State of Emergency was a fun guilty pleasure that I'm proud to have in my collection. State of Emergency 2, on the other hand, throws away everything that was fun about the first game and turns it into an ugly beast of a game that has almost no redeeming qualities.
Believe it or not, State of Emergency 2 has had quite an adventure just getting to store shelves. Announced years ago, this State of Emergency has gone through three publishers and a bankruptcy, but here it finally is … for better or worse. After all this time I had to wonder why anybody would even bother finishing the game, the game does not feel fresh and has an extremely dated look. But regardless of why they decided to finish the game, here it is, State of Emergency 2 in all its glory.
Although this game shares its name with the 2002 action game, State of Emergency 2 has a completely different look and feel. Now the game controls much like a first-person shooter, except that it's stuck in the third-person. You use the left analog stick to run around while using the right analog stick to control your aim, allowing you to shoot any direction you want. This is a perfectly good control scheme that has been used well in many quality video games, but the frantic pace of State of Emergency is not the place for this type of control set up.
New to this sequel are the crazy missions you need to go on in order to beat all twelve levels of the story mode. Things start out strong, you play an inmate who gets a little help escaping the his death sentence. After avoiding what seemed like inevitable death you kill about a hundred prison guards and ultimately start a prison riot. Other levels reward you for sneaking around, working as a team, and other third-person shooter clichés. The game even features crazy turret gun levels and drivable vehicles. Of course, none of these missions are very good, with terrible vehicle controls -- no matter if you're using a helicopter, a speedboat, or a tank. The best you can say is that State of Emergency 2 has a surprising amount of variety; unfortunately none of it is very enjoyable.
The problem with this game is not the variety of missions; it's how uninspired most of them seem. There is not one part of this game that hasn't been done better by literally dozens of other titles. To the developers credit there are a couple of ideas in the game that come as something of a shock, I enjoyed being able to switch between characters in some levels and while playing as Spanky, the Latino gang leader you may remember from the first game, you are able to issue commands to your hommies on the street. None of this stuff is really new to the genre, but they took me by surprise when they were introduced. You can sometimes see glimpses of potential in this game, but there's just too much in this game working against your enjoyment.
For one thing the game is just a little too tough for its own good. State of Emergency 2 is ready to throw a lot of enemies at you while making you fight for much-needed health packs. Couple this with checkpoints that seemed tossed in at random and you have a few really frustrating levels with very little reward. There are levels where you can just run and gun your way to victory, but much of the game requires you to use some sort of stealth. The problem with the quiet killing is that it's not very interesting and forces you to do the same thing over and over. The game also has some technical problems when you hug walls and peer around corners. If you're determined you can overlook these problems, but with so many better games on the market why should you have to?
Another problem I had with the game was its AI, or lack there of as it seemed most of the time. There are moments in the game where an enemy is literally watching me shoot his friend that is no more than a couple feet away and doesn't seem to notice. For the most part you can use this to your advantage, but the stupid artificial intelligence is apparent throughout the entire game. If it weren't for the fact that there were so many enemies at once this game would be a breeze.
But since there are so many enemies to contend with you will likely have to replay many of the sequences over and over again. The game relies heavily on trial and error gameplay, to the point where you wonder if the game was designed to be entertaining or to turn gamers off of video games permanently. The levels in the game require you to die a few times in order to know what not to do, only that when you finally figure do figure out where you're going you still have to die a few more times until you figure what you're supposed to do next. The fact that there aren't many health packs or checkpoints along the way only makes the game that much more frustrating. Throw in the tired game play and bland missions and the game ceases being fun real quick.
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