Don’t let the Rockstar logo on the front of the box fool you, State of Emergency won’t hold your interest for long.
What are the qualities that people usually associate with Rockstar-published games? While the most likely answer to this question is high levels of violence, Rockstar is also well known for its painstaking attention to detail, high quality products and expansive open-world settings that arguably, no other company has been able to faithfully duplicate. Although State of Emergency has been published by Rockstar, the game doesn’t live up to its prestigious heritage.
State of Emergency is an action game in which the main objective is to wreak havoc on one of four distinctive locations which include Capital City Mall, East Side, Chinatown and Corporation Central. This beat ‘em up is set in the year 2035 in a dystopian future: the federal government has collapsed, there’s a serious economic crisis and on top of that, an evil corporation is in control of the country. Thus, the streets teem with protesters, chaos quickly ensues and a state of emergency is declared in the area. The player assumes the role of one of five civilians who has recently become a member of an underground resistance, a secret organization that is trying to overthrow the current government. That’s the background story that serves as your motivation, in other words, a one-dimensional excuse to kill enemies and blow things up.
There are two main modes within the game: Revolution and Chaos. The former represents the game’s main campaign. In it, you are the member of a revolutionary organization that’s fighting for your country to be free again. Revolution mode has 175 missions set across four areas of Capital City. Tasks include escorting people, fetching items, killing members of the opposition and so on and so forth. These missions are a rote affair: you approach the mission giver, press x, read the briefing, follow the arrow that indicates the next objective, kill someone, go back to the starting point and repeat the whole process all over again. Most of the times though, you’ll be forced to retry frustrating missions and it’s a shame that there aren’t any diversions in the form of side missions as in Grand Theft Auto games.
Then, there’s Kaos mode and as its name indicates, the idea is to cause as much destruction as you can in the allotted time. Here, there are no missions to complete and the main objective is to score enough points to unlock additional stages. Listening to the announcer is very important, since he tells you how to easily multiply your score (for example, by destroying cars, windows, objects, buildings, killing members of the corporation) and warns you about penalties (killing civilians, for instance, subtracts points from your overall score.)
A wide variety of weapons are scattered across the different environments (including bats, clubs, swords, shotguns, grenade launchers, assault rifles, flamethrowers, Molotov cocktails, rocket launchers and machine guns.) Being able to effectively use them according to the current multipliers adds a deep layer strategy to the game, making the whole experience gleefully empowering and surprisingly exhilarating. There are also bonus items such as time pickups, health pickups and dangerous threats in the form of enemy gangs, such as the Freedom Movement, Mall Rats, Muerte 13 and Skinheads.
Apart from Kaos mode, there are additional levels such as Fixed Time games (you have a limited amount of time to complete a level,) Last Clone Standing (you need to kill all the clones as fast as you can) and Unlimited Time. The pace of these modes is frenetic and blowing things up in confined environments is deeply satisfying, making Chaos mode really absorbing. In the end, it’s a shame that the rest of the game is as lackadaisical as it is.
Sadly, State of Emergency is plagued with issues that put a barrier on your enjoyment. First of all, the game lacks auto-aim which is unfortunate, because aiming with the left analog stick is extremely imprecise. Then, the use of camera is really cumbersome and it always struggles to give you the best look of the raucous action. Furthermore, Revolution mode is so repetitive that is quickly becomes monotonous and this portion of the campaign fails to capitalize on the game’s strengths. Ultimately, the seconds-long CGI cutscenes that are unlocked once you’ve completed all the missions of a given region are not worth your efforts.
The controversial subject matter (killing cops and attacking gangs in the most violent and over-the-top ways imaginable) doesn’t make up for the fact that State of Emergency is a flawed game. This is a shame because Chaos mode is extremely inspired and the basic premise of the game sounds quite inviting. However, the humdrum missions from the Revolution mode leave a lot to be desired, making this a subpar action game in which the developer misses the mark more often than not. Don’t let the Rockstar logo on the front of the box fool you, State of Emergency won’t hold your interest for long.