Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: February 27, 2002
As a publisher, what do you do when you’ve released one of the most critically acclaimed console games of the current generation of systems? Do you bask in your accolades, rest on your laurels and release a knockoff sequel, or do you head in an entirely new direction? Faced with this decision, Rockstar Games has decided to take the middle road by following Grand Theft Auto III with State of Emergency. These two titles almost beg for comparison, and superficially they have a lot in common: both deal with situations that put you in direct opposition with the police and authorities, and both have happily accepted a Mature rating from the ESRB for their graphic depiction of violence. The comparison ends there, though, since State of Emergency is to Grand Theft Auto 3 as the Dual Shock 2 is to the PS2, only a small part of what proved to be a more sweeping whole.
Where Grand Theft Auto 3 allowed you virtually unlimited freedom, State of Emergency riffs off of only one part of the larger game — specifically, the gunplay and hand-to-hand combat. In truth, while State of Emergency might feel fresh to younger gamers, there was a time when the mechanics at play here were the bread and butter of every arcade. Well polished buttons and controllers on countless Double Dragon and Final Fight machines can attest to the popularity of the beat-’em-up genre, and you’ll be reliving those days from the moment you pop this disc into your PS2.
The world of State of Emergency is a dark place where governments have been toppled and replaced by one single entity called, The Corporation. Suppressor of personal freedoms and bane of liberal thought the world over, The Corporation uses Big Brother tactics to assure its people that the only route to happiness is capitulation and, of course, purchasing their products. Opposing The Corporation is an underground resistance group known as Freedom. At the beginning of this title, Freedom has begun its first large-scale operation to overthrow their oppressors, and this is where you come in.
At first, you’ll find that you have a choice between Mack, the disgraced and rebellious ex-police chief, and Libra, the persecuted former District Attorney turned Freedom sympathizer. Later on, you’ll have access to Spanky, the portly ex-ganger who so chubbily graces the title’s front cover, Bull the rampaging ex-con and Freak, scrawny hacker extraordinaire. For the most part, these characters play largely the same, though the bigger each character is, the more power they seem to pack at an expense of speed.
Your chance to join Freedom can be found in Revolution mode, which sets you a series of tasks to complete to advance the storyline. These missions tend to fall into several distinct categories, with the most primary being the assault missions. Basically, you’re asked by your superior to find and kill a specific individual, usually before they escape the current area. Other goals include escorting and protecting key members of the resistance, finding key items and returning them to other places, and protecting certain areas from Corporation soldiers for a fixed amount of time. After you complete all the missions from a specific area, you’ll move onto the next theatre of operations and repeat the process. In total, Revolution mode boasts a whopping 175 missions to be completed, making for an extensive storyline told in exceedingly short snippets.