Since the recent release of Rockstarís hottest game to date, Grand Theft Auto 3, weíve all fallen in love with the concept of exploring a huge city and doing whatever you please and when you want. Luckily, Rockstar is dishing out another intriguing title with complete freedom and destruction, State of Emergency. Only this time, the main plot is a tad different. Instead of taking the role of a criminal and creating mass destruction...wait, actually it isnít too much different as far as the main objective goes.
The city has been taken over by a group called ATO--American Trade Organization. Itís purpose is to make each of the four sections of the city subdued to that section and to not let people cross from city to city. The reason for this is to prevent the different areas from coinciding because they just canít seem to get along. But is this really right? Can some group of people just come in and take over your life and tell you where you can or canít go? I donít think so! And thatís why the main gameplay objective is to fight back, or in this case, to riot. This is where it all begins; a rebel underground is set up to hopefully dethrone these goons. Donít worry though, youíve got a few people to back you up in this riot. Over 100 peoples worth! Is that enough backup for ya'? On top of that a majority of them feature a distinct AI. For instance, if you shoot an old lady, she might run behind that trash can screaming bloody murder, but the next lady you shoot might whip a gun out from her purse and start going crazy. You can never tell what'll happen since each person will react in a random way. This is why I am advising gamers not pick a fight unless they're sure they can handle themselves and furthermore, have the heavy ammo at their disposal.
As the gamer, youíre put in the shoes of one out of five different characters to choose from. Thereís an ex-sports star known as Bull; an ex-cop who rebelled against ATO, Mack; an ex-gang member, Spanky; a lawyer named Libra; and Phreak, who became an orphan in high school. These five people donít have too much in common as far as looks and attitude go, but one thing they all share is the hatred of ATO. Additionally, each character has unique moves and a fighting style that is distinct to him/her.
Gangs are of the plenty as well. Donít mess with one of these guys unless you just really want an all out war. And thatís what youíll get as you attack a gang member, and then all of a sudden, ten of his comrades are all over you like white on rice with bats and guns. There are quite a few gangs throughout the massive city and most of them will be in heated rivalry with opposing gangs that will go into an all out frenzy if they clash heads. Even worse, sometimes theyíll just pick a fight with you for no reason at all, just to knock off time.
The weapons of destruction range from some of the sickest to some of the rather unobvious choices. Weíve all come to know the flame-throwers, bats, bazookas and such. But what if you run out of ammo? Thatís okay because you can just pick up whatever is lying around in the city and use that. Stray objects such as bricks, trash cans, benches and more will all be at your violent disposal. Even if you run out of those, you still have more options. See that guyís arm you just shot off? Go pick it up and defend yourself with that. Yes, even body parts can be used to help you make it from point A to point B.
Aside from the graphics, the only thing you could complain about in GTA3 would have to be that the whole entire city wasnít destructible. Sure, you could fly over a street light or crash into a fire hydrant, but when it got down to it, almost nothing was destructible. Even when you would ram into a building at 60 mph the building remained untarnished. So for Rockstar to make SOEís cities fully indestructible is like a criminals heaven. Anything and everything in front you can be mowed down with the right artillery which makes SOEís already amazing looking game even further desirable.
The game supports four huge sections of a city to tear apart limb from limb and to wreak havoc in all day long. Luckily, the support of over 100 pedestrians --and aimed 250 by the time of launch-- will help even more so depict the carnage before you and better display the event of a full-out riot. Each city section will have over 20 missions to complete, similar to those in GTA3. As you progress throughout the missions, you will be able to cover more of the city, also somewhat like GTA3.
It seems that Rockstar is pulling out another stellar title from its bag of goodies and bringing it to the PS2. Only time will tell whatís in store for State of Emergency. Stay tuned for further updates when more information is available. Until then, mark your calendars for this sure-fire hit, and wait for its release in January.
12/11/2001 Joseph Comunale