Urban Chaos Riot Response ReviewCain Dornan
There is far from a lack of first person shooters currently available on the market for the PS2 and Xbox, and the similarities between many of these games is dangerously little. While fans of the genre are capable of naming countless classics off the top of their heads, there is no denying that there are plenty of quickly forgotten, below-average titles that offered anything new or exciting. Rocksteadys latest title, Urban Chaos: Riot Response, plays very similarly to many previous games in the genre. However, on the same note, it manages to squeeze in a small handful of interesting features that aid in providing a more unique feeling to the game. The end result is one that is largely enjoyable, but is dragged down by its repetitive nature.
Urban Chaos: Riot Response pits you into the role of Nick Mason, a highly trained, skilled individual who is a member of the T-Zero squad; a multi-million dollar group of special forces Police officers who have been trained to deal with dangerous terrorist actions within their large city. The game initially begins with T-Zero being far from favored within the local community, with many residents considering the force as being little more than a waste of taxpayers money. As you progress through the game, however, this notion changes, as your force begins to prove their worth in the combating of the latest terrorist scum who are causing havoc throughout the city.
These scum, known as the Burner Gang, are a group of hockey mask wearing, weapon-wielding thugs who love to start fires, destroy buildings, kill and take hostage innocent civilians and become a complete nuisance for the citys emergency services.
The games storyline is presented in a rather interesting way, taking the form of evening news reports from the Channel 7 news team (no, not the Australian television channel). This sees an actual human news presenter giving you updates on the latest occurings in the city, and also presents breaking news of events that have just occurred. These then lead into the next mission, providing an interesting and somewhat unique way of presenting the trouble that the Burner Gang is causing for authorities.
The game, at heart, is essentially your standard run-and-gun first person shooter fare, however, there are a small number of inclusions that help to make it stand out from the crowd. As with most of todays FPS games, theres a solid collection of weapons on offer, which range from your standard-issue pistol through to a powerful automatic shotgun, a sawn-off shotgun, dual uzis, assault rifles and even the classic, gory chainsaw. Outside of this usual line-up of weapons is the inclusion of a taser and a riot shield, which further endorse the Police background that the game follows. The riot shield proves to be more than a mere added inclusion that youll rarely use; it doesnt pose as a disposable weapon, and as such, it is always available and assigned to the left shoulder button for instant use in any of the games levels. Given that youll often find yourself up against numerous hostiles, the use of the riot shield is an essential tool for deflecting rounds out in the open. While you cant shoot a weapon with the shield in use, it is possible to quickly switch between the shield and a weapon to issue quick attacks on enemies, before withdrawing back behind the shield and awaiting your next chance of attack.
Furthermore, the shield is put into further use through the games regular hostage situations, which requires you to use your shield and weapon in unison to save the hostage. When you first approach the hostage taker, they will begin shooting at you, which leads to you drawing your shield and repelling any rounds to prevent taking damage. Once the hostage taker pauses for a brief second to reload, the game turns briefly into slow-motion, giving you just enough time to draw your weapon and shoot the terrorist. In some instances, youll be required to shoot the terrorist several times, which usually involves performing the above sequence several times as the terrorist slowly moves from point-to-point. This turns these events into relatively easy boss battles of sorts, offering a slight change of pace from the usual run-and-gun that is performed throughout the rest of the game.
In the classic arcade shooter style, Urban Chaos features a number of unlockables, which are earned by scoring badges during each mission. In addition to the main missions that must be completed, you are offered a number of side missions that has you doing everything from achieving a specific number of headshots during the mission, arresting gang members rather than killing them, completing the mission without dieing or failing a mission or arresting important gang leaders, rather than putting a bullet through their head. If you score enough medals throughout the course of the games campaign, youll unlock some additional emergency missions, which pits you against a fast paced rush-against-the-clock mission. Earning medals also unlocks additional weapons and weapon upgrades for use.
One of the key problems that the game suffers from is its repetitive nature, which sees many of the missions involving almost identical actions that were taken in several of the previous missions. At various points in the game youll find yourself climbing through buildings that are ablaze, either clearing the area of gang members or rescuing the hostages. While at others youll be involved in giving basic orders to an AI-controlled ally that performs simple tasks such as breaking down doors or putting out fires. Most of the missions are essentially made up of such tasks, with only the occasional environment change offering any level of variation to the experience.
For those inclined, theres also a multiplayer component on-hand, however, there is a complete absence of any split-screen support. As such, you can go head-to-head in both online or offline multi-system LAN modes.
In the graphics department, Urban Chaos experiences a mixture of ups and downs, very much like its single player experience. While some areas are boring and drab, offering little eye-candy or variation from corridor to corridor, others are noticeably better and quite impressive. One outdoor section, for example, which saw the mission beginning in an alleyway, was particularly impressive, offering some detailed visuals that were aided with some strong and effective lighting that made the buildings and surrounds really stand-out and be noticed. The inclusion of a solid physics engine also adds some further polish to the games visuals, where moving in-game objects that react to your movements against them and rag doll body animation add some further level of realism to the experience.
Urban Chaos: Riot Response is unlikely to become a rememberable experience for anyone. Its simply another case of the classic first person syndrome; an experience that has been seen and done many times before. In this case, however, it doesnt completely destroy the experience, as what is on offer is quite enjoyable to say the least. However, it also lacks enough personality and uniqueness to make it a truly refreshing experience. Regardless, if youre looking for a quick stint of simple FPS action, Urban Chaos is worth a look.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.