Urban Chaos: Riot Response

good
key review info
  • Game: Urban Chaos: Riot Response
  • Platform: Playstation
  • Gamepad support: N/a
  • Reviewed on:
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I'm sure most gamers remember the 1999 Urban Chaos from Mucky Foot Productions, published by Eidos. The main plot revolved around a female police officer who tried to stop a gang from taking over the city. Urban Chaos: Riot Response has nothing to do with the game I just mentioned, or so we are told. Well, you'll have to decide by yourself if that's true.

Urban Chaos: Riot Response is a first person shooter and it comes with all the problems attached to the console's limitations, because we have to be honest with ourselves and confess once and for all that FPS games and consoles just don't mix. I have played a lot of games with an analog controller and I assure you there is no pleasure to control two axes at the same time using the joysticks. My brain wasn't designed for such an ordeal. I have been told that I'm going to get used to it, but no matter how good I got at destroying Dual Shocks I felt like a physically challenged fish on a bicycle with one wheel and no brakes. I'm pretty certain that in a million years of evolution, after all fish learn to ride a bike I still won't feel comfortable playing a FPS on the Playstation.

Story
But enough about me, let's talk about the story. I'm sure we are all familiar with the guy that saves the entire city with just a gun and a riot shield. In case you haven't met him yet, I give you Nick Mason, the newest bad ass recruit from T-Zero (Zero Tolerance) tactical team.

The city with no name is under attack from the Burners gang with no other clear purpose than anarchy. The police are overrun by the increasing number of attacks and so the mighty government decides to put together a special force team that has full authority and can use the zero tolerance I was babbling about earlier. I actually looked to see what Zero Tolerance means in police slang and this is the closet definition I got: "extreme intolerance of anti-social behavior usually by an uncompromising application of the law". In other words if you are holding a cleaver you won't be asked for the receipt and will probably die due to a slow motion head shot.

Right from the start we are warned by the real nice lady from Channel 7 News (filmed with real actors) that the terrorists and gang members are now in the hundreds and that they have attacked the "Hope Police Station" (don't you just love these little ironies). Anyway, this first introductory level will serve as tutorial and body count estimate (you'll figure pretty soon that more than a few hundred gang members are going to die). From now on, it's just killing and news reports.

Concept
Even if I'm not a fan of this genre on the console, I think they should exist because it gives the players a chance to experiment beyond stupid arcade beat-em ups we see every day. Once in a while a great game comes to Playstation 2 or its counterparts and revolutionizes the gameplay of a certain aspect, like horror. In this case the only remark about its uniqueness is the presence of a serious physical engine but not as the ones developed for the PC. Playstation 2 is a console - excuse me, entertainment platform - that gets better with time, just like wine. The more time producers spend developing games for it, the better they figure out a way to maximize the graphical output. Probably, giving enough time, the titles will look and feel just like the PC; unfortunately at that time the PC would have aged as well.

Gameplay
If you haven't figure it out by now, the main interest of the gamer here is to shoot as many enemies as possible using two thumbs. Playing Nick Mason is pretty easy, I have to admit. He is very resistant to lead, fire and flying daggers and he could do the work of the entire police by himself. The main campaign isn't so different from what you would expect; mission after mission (15 of them) of protecting, arresting and decimating gangs. The whole game can be completed in about seven hours, maybe more if you have two left hands like me.

What makes this an interesting game to play is the huge variety of weapons you can inflict pain and death with. This also means that the enemies won't let go of the weapons until they die so it's up to you and your trusty gun to "convince" your opponents to lend them to me. And when I'm saying gun, I mean the weapon you'll be using 80% of the time, mostly because it comes with tons of bullets, it's precise and does a moderate amount of damage.

The other trusty friend of a police officer with zero tolerance is the Riot Shield. It's not a new concept and if I'm not mistaken I first saw it implemented in Red Faction and after that in Counter Strike: Condition Zero. Unlike those models, this one is virtually indestructible and it can carry quite a punch if you're using it like a blunt object. Most of the times the shield will save your life and help you wait until the s.o.b. reloads.

Some primary or secondary missions will ask you to capture some people alive. This is done by electrocution of course. No police enforcer can go to bed without it. At 20000 volts, there isn't much opposition but don't let your personal life make you forget the finger on the trigger because the target will eventually burst into flames. Other weapons that can be used but are not really necessary are: shotgun, assault rifle, smoke grenade, riot grenade, minigun, cleaver, nail bomb and a few I'm not going to mention because we have to keep the interest going.

I should mention something, just to make sure the players don't get the wrong impression about their capabilities. No, you are not that good! Making the targeting system identical with the one on the PC would have made the game impossible, so we have to settle with an obvious auto aim. If you get 30 to 40 head shots per level you're doing something wrong.

Nick Mason can also command a number of NPCs like firemen that can break down doors and carry victims, emergency workers that operate various machineries and of course the medics, the life savers and the possessors of eternal life. Yes, they tend to get stuck a lot and die but that's the life of an AI. The AI is not improving the situation and we can surely say there isn't much of intelligence at work here. The whole game is heavily scripted and if by any chance you'll die in the process of playing you'll find out that all the bogies come out in the same spots and have the same behavior. Luckily for us, the main character has eaten a lot of cereal and now it can withstand shotgun rounds in the chest. Children, eat your veggies!

Video
I've always liked this chapter in a console game because there isn't much to talk about. The game is not that good looking even for a Playstation 2 but the engine does its job. The major feature is the physics engine that performs quite well under the circumstances (meaning that it is built on a six year old machine in an era that was oblivious to physics). I know I shouldn't expect too much from it, so I'm not going to hold this against it, although I have seen better.

Sound
Every mission is preceded by a news story from Channel 7 and it's done in a professional manner. The voice acting and the actual acting is more than satisfying. The guns are well modulated and the obscenities are not for the ears of kids under 16. Oh, the things I've heardÂ…

Multiplayer
As we could expect from a console game, we have a limited number of maps based around simple objectives like Counter Strike, that usually involves control of a certain point or simply guarding an objective and even if we don't get too many players in one map, the action is bound to get you really fast and gritty. Unfortunately, there isn't a split screen so all you dual controller fans will be disappointed.

Conclusion
Mindless fun. I was going to say harmless but I think that goes out the window after you sever the first head. Bloody maps and tons of enemies make this the perfect afternoon shooter but the lack of depth is really pulling it down. I'm afraid it is going to get lost in the ever increasing number of Playstation games, but I'm also sure it's going to find its fans out there.


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story 7
gameplay 7
concept 8
graphics 7
audio 9
multiplayer 8
final rating 7.8
Editor's review
good
 
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