PS2 REVIEW: URBAN CHAOS: RIOT RESPONSE

Not quite a riot, but fun nevertheless. by Cole Smith

June 15, 2006 - Did you ever notice that everything that is supposed to be good for you usually turns out to be bad in other ways. Like celery with nothing on it, cod liver oil, Christian rock bands and exercise. The same could be said about Urban Chaos: Riot Response. Compared to Grand Theft Auto it seems like a budget title. In this game you play as the good guys, busting up gangs and other criminal low life. Despite the incredibly good gameplay, Urban Chaos doesn’t offer much in the way of production values. It’s on the right track but it’s more like a steaming locomotive rather than a magnetically levitated super train.

As a first-person shooter Urban Chaos does not disappoint. It’s a solid game with plenty of interesting elements. It takes you on an adventure but it doesn’t hold your hand. There is a general lack of background information as well as a very basic storyline that does little to endear us to the main character. The non-playable characters are reduced to stereotypes that do little more than fill the predictable void. The graphics have a dated look to them with boring textures and minimal detail. But if you can get past the lame presentation, the gameplay is definitely a lot of fun.

I suppose that you don’t really need much in the way of a story to help illustrate your motivation. There are FMV broadcasts that highlight relevant situations. You are a member of a government agency bent on protecting innocent civilians from gangs, terrorists and other criminal elements. In other words, you are the good guy. And there is no shortage of violence, blood, foul language and adult subject matter. For those very reasons it’s inevitable this game will be compared to games such as Grand Theft Auto, Dead to Rights, Max Payne, 25 To Life, Robocop and Manhunt to name a few. While it does have a few elements of all these games it manages to eek out a notch for itself that makes it unique. There are some elements that are familiar but overall Urban Chaos has a fresh feel to it that I recommend you investigate.

Nick Mason, (you’ve got to love that cheesy moniker) heads a special anti-terrorist, anti-gang task force called T-Zero. Working cooperatively with civil servants in the community such as emergency medical technicians, firemen, the local constabulary and even civilians, Nick busts up evil networks and brings them to justice in one piece - if they don’t resist too much. The main antagonists in the game are members of the Burner gang that seem intent on terrorizing the city that appears very similar to the Big Apple. These hockey-mask wearing freaks are armed with a variety of weapons that include knives, cleavers, Molotov cocktails, flamethrowers, chainsaws and machineguns. Fortunately you have slightly superior weaponry that is upgradeable and you can even pick up the weapons that you confiscate from these gang members.

Your best weapon is defense - in the form of a riot shield. It’s virtually indestructible as it will protect you against everything from knives to a hail of machinegun fire. You can move it up or down to defend yourself from attack above or below. It really adds a good deal of depth to the gameplay as you can reload your weapon or select a different one from your inventory while using the shield for protection.

Weapons include various guns such as a shotgun and sniper rifle. Specialty weapons such as smoke and riot grenades also come in handy when dealing with gangs and the tazer will help you take ‘em alive. Weapons can be upgraded by completing other objectives in association with the main mission. At the end of each mission you may be rewarded with new weapons, upgrades, new sub-missions and medals of honor. To earn these rewards you will have to accomplish objectives that include scoring a specific number of headshots, collecting Burner gang masks that you will find hidden throughout each level, making arrests, getting through the level without dying and taking the gang leaders alive.

Situations can be dynamic. When rescuing hostages for instance, you have to try to keep the perpetrator as calm as possible, even while shooting at him, so that he doesn’t go over the edge and kill the hostage. You accomplish this by shooting at him in spurts, slowly reducing his health over time. You use your shield to protect yourself and take your shots during the moments when he has to reload. Get too close to him or spark a shooting frenzy and you might just have an innocent death on your hands.

Online you can play with as many as seven other gamers. You can look forward to new missions with more of an approach to teamwork. The single-player mission includes plenty of teamwork situations where you can use other government agencies and even civilians to give you a hand with certain tasks. But the online mode really takes this to the next level. It’s a lot of fun and while it may have limited replay value it’s definitely a great bonus feature.

Urban Chaos is presented like a cheap arcade game. It even features a disembodied, over zealous announcer that shouts out what you’ve been awarded. The graphics are blasé but they do tend to fit in with the whole urban decay premise. The tunes are rocking and are appropriate choices for the soundtrack as they tend to underscore the situation. The characters have a generic look to them and thanks to the hockey masks the gang members all look like clones. At least they have some nice death animations and bleed profusely when shot in the head.

Urban Chaos is definitely worth a rental. If you’re good, there’s no reason that you can’t complete it in a weekend. There are plenty of side missions that will extend the replay value if you purchase the game and want to wring every second of enjoyment out of it, but you don’t have to take on these side missions if you just want to blast your way through it.

Features:

  • Play Nick Mason, a member of the elite, newly formed anti gang unit "T-Zero" The last line of urban defense
  • Build your reputation, expand your arsenal and use whatever means necessary to kick ass to save the day
  • Hold your nerve and take on gang leaders in intense one to one situations. Save your city’s citizens and make that perfect shot
  • Real terror explore the action in a realistic and dynamic environment, fighting for a city at melting point
  • Use whatever weapons necessary from military issue and upgraded high tech firearms to brutal gang weaponry including meat cleavers, Molotov cocktails and power tools
  • Take control and ensure the safety of civilians, recruit key members of the Emergency services from Firemen and Medics to the Police department leading them into the heat of the action to take your city back.


By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Urban Chaos: Riot Response (PS2)
3.3
Graphics
Average looking graphics with bleak textures and low res detail. Compared to the new next-gen graphics these are looking pretty old-school.
4.3
Control
The aiming system feels just right. The riot shield is a riot.
3.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes rock and the sound effects are decent. Most of the voiceacting is on the lame side.
3.2
Play Value
With plenty of unlockables, side missions and an eight-player online mode, there are many reasons to continue fighting the good fight.
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2 (shown), X
Dev: Rocksteady
Pub: Eidos
Release: June 2006
Players: 1 - 8
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best