Sometimes a game can be so bad it’s good. Arguably, that was the case with State of Emergency — sadly, the same cannot be said of its successor.
Don’t get me wrong, the first State of Emergency was a horrible game. The camera was clunky, the character models just strange, the small maps were filled with too many bystanders and the game was fairly unpleasant to play — but there was something sickeningly satisfying about picking up a bar stool and killing another character with it.
That game was originally lauded as the next big thing from the people that brought you Grand Theft Auto, and yet it ended up being one of the most over-hyped disappointments of 2002. Thank you, Rockstar Games. Fittingly, the sequel was released with little fanfare and even less interest. Rockstar passed on the game, leaving it instead to DC Studios. The resulting game is without the faults of its predecessor, but is also without its campy redeeming values.
In fact, there’s nothing at all special about State of Emergency 2.
The plot more or less follows that of the original: a band of freedom fighting revolutionaries are trying to fight the powers-that-be in a not-to-distant future ruled by an overpowering government, military police and pay-per-view executions. If that sounds familiar to long-time gamers, it should. It’s pretty much the same plot as Aerosmith’s 1994 arcade classic Revolution X, 1990’s Smash TV, and a dozen other games that were more about the bang than the payoff.
Unlike previous games — wait, strike that — there is nothing original about State of Emergency 2. Publisher SouthPeak Interactive managed to make a completely by-the-numbers third person shooter with standard weapons, standard environments and standard bad guys. Sure, you can peek around corners, drive tanks and use rocket launchers, but that could be said for a dozen other combat simulators.
Being standard or adequate is not necessarily a bad thing either. A game can be a great time-waster if all it has to do is give players a good chance to shoot each other up or beat the next level. That formula worked just fine for Unreal Tournament. Unlike the Unreal Tournament series, however, friends will not be knocking on your door to play this at your house. More likely, they’ll knock you over the head with a controller for making them play it.
You can snipe from a rooftop, but you can’t jump off to chase your target as they get away. Multiplayer environments often end up as large loops without cover or variety. Enemy artificial intelligence is low on every setting. The list of faults goes on, but again, these problems are not uncommon with similarly themed games. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to set State of Emergency 2 apart from the pack either.
Even if you could rope friends into playing this game, you’ll have to settle for one-on-one games unless you have the PS2’s four-player adapter. The game might have had some redeeming value as a simple deathmatch game on the Xbox or PC, but ports were never produced for other consoles.
That isn’t to say it’s all bad. Like the first game, there are some unintentionally funny scenes thanks to odd choices on behalf of the game designers. The best example is the very first scene in the game. Most games have a learning curve section near the start, using story elements to teach players the basics of gameplay, but this game starts you out as a rebel in an electric chair fortunate enough to have an automatic weapon. Now, you would think being strapped to the chair wearing nothing but an orange jumpsuit would make you an easy target for guards in full body armor, but much like the Stormtroopers of old, these guys couldn’t hit the broadside of a prison wall and seem to fall easily to your haphazard but unlimited hail of bullets. This is the game’s way of teaching you which buttons are used to fire and how to aim, but honestly, it removes all suspension of disbelief.
And past that, there isn’t much more to say about this forgettable game. It’s not completely worthless, but it’s not good by any means. It just is.