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ups: Lots o' guns and blood, fun arcade challenges.
downs: Innovative SoE engine replaced with dull third person action, poor AI, poor presentation.

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State of Emergency 2 Review
game: State of Emergency 2
two star
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
developer: DC Studios
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 10:43 AM Wed Mar 8th, 2006
last revision: 10:42 AM Wed Mar 8th, 2006

Click to read.If the original State of Emergency left me unimpressed, State of Emergency 2 has me baffled. As a sequel, it bares almost no resemblance to its predecessor. As a member of the elder generation of PS2 games, in direct competition with the latest console technology, it does nothing new or in any way remarkable. It is, in fact, a step back from the original in terms of creative content. SoE2 manages to have some fun moments, but misses every opportunity to be a good game.

While the original SOE may have suffered from bloated expectations (being Rockstar\'s follow-up to Grand Theft Auto 3), and a flawed concept (turns out mob mentality alone isn\'t enough to sustain interest for an entire game), it did introduce a new and innovative gaming engine that was a lot of fun and showed potential. The original SOE engine is a masterpiece of mayhem, allowing for large crowds of opponents, multiple gore zones, and a multi-directional lock-on targeting system. Using two hands and two different weapons, players could lock on to multiple targets simultaneously to amplify the stylized action. Admittedly, I enjoyed this engine even more when it was used to recreate the madcap zombie action of the Evil Dead films in A Fistful of Boomstick. But SOE did it first.

DC Studios chose not to employ this engine in the sequel, however. Rather, SOE2 is a simple third-person shooter, nothing more. If you took Max Payne or Dead to Rights and removed all traces of nuance and personality from them, you would have SOE2. You walk, you crouch, you lean, and you shoot your shotgun. There are some vehicles in the game to add variety, including helicopters and tanks, and some levels put you in a turret for some rail shooter action. These elements add a little spice to the game, but aren\'t enough to make it interesting. And the entire game suffers from an imprecise control system that lends to drifting movements and clumsy targeting.

These kinds of games live and die by the quality of the action. In the case of SOE2 it is the AI that spoils the fun. Most of your opponents run at you in a group, kneel down 15 feet in front of you, and draw their weapons. In other words, they are just begging to be shot. The difficulty of any skirmish is a direct function of how many people you have to mow down while they are shooting at you. Mostly, the actions consists of you gliding your reticule over the general vicinity of your enemies until they have all been blown to bloody little pieces, then looking around frantically for the next attack, which often blindsides you thanks to the camera system (enemies come out from nowhere right behind you or take pot shots at you from concealed locations). The gameplay is overall very generic, and while it may make players feel more in control over their situation than the previous game, it is not nearly as exciting or fun.

There are some upsides to the gameplay, however. There are a number of Arcade challenges that can be addictive, if for a short period of time. In the arcade games, players try to earn points and medals in rocket, mounted gun, sniper, and tank challenges. The challenges have that must keep trying to get the gold quality that can keep you coming back for an evening or two.

There are multiplayer games as well, such as Deathmatch, Battle, Flag Attack, and Last Man Standing, accommodating up to four players and multiple bots. Including multiplayer games is always a good idea, and in this case it\'ll add a day or two to SOE2\'s lifespan, but there are better multiplayer games out there to occupy your time.

The presentation of SOE2 is a little dated. The actors are convincing enough, and the music works, but the characters occupy a flat and bland world that has little depth or texture. The graphics are a step back for the PS2, and if you have just come to this game after playing Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360, they are just depressing. That is an unfair comparison to be sure, but a likely occurrence given SOE2\'s release date.

In all, SOE2, while entertaining to a point, has nothing new to offer the genre it occupies, or the gaming industry as a whole. It bears little resemblance to its predecessor, as it abandons that game\'s innovative engine and shows entirely too much restraint in its gameplay. I hope that the original SOE game engine hasn\'t been scrapped completely. Much like the innovative geo-mod engine from the original Red Faction, it has the potential for greatness, and yet no one seems to be using it. Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick had the right idea, using it place players in the middle of a seething horde of zombies. What other games might benefit from these gaming engines that seem to have been tossed aside by the industry? Think of the unique and innovative games that you could be playing instead of by the numbers retreads like State of Emergency 2. Have faith, fellow gamers, they are out there.

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