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GamesFirst! Magazine

State of Emergency

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Due Fall 2001 for PS2.
Brand New Screens Available 12/06/2001. Click here.


SOEimage23.jpg (5563 bytes)I had never even heard of State of Emergency before this year’s E3, but it turned out to be one of the most impressive titles there. Fans crowded the Rockstar booth shoulder to shoulder just to get a look at this insane title, and they didn’t leave until the exhausted Rockstar staff made them go home at night.

BullexplosionSOEimage8_3.jpg (5619 bytes)If you’ve never heard of State of Emergency don’t worry because you’re about to. What’s more, I’m pretty sure you’ll hear the title of this game said in anger by attorney general Ashcroft at least once before Christmas. State of Emergency is set in the not too distant future. The American Trade Organization (ATO) has declared a state of emergency and is cracking down on organized resistance and releasing their goon squads to keep the people down. The people, fed up with the evilness of the ATO, start rioting in the streets. Your job as a supreme rioter is to create as much devastation and havoc as possible in order to bring the ATO down.

SOEimage8_3.jpg (5759 bytes)Let me recap the first thirty seconds I spent playing State of Emergency: The game opens on an impressive looking city street, filled with looters, rioters, and the occasional ATO goon squad. The first thing I did was rip a park bench off the ground and throw it through a store window. Then I noticed the hatchet on the ground and picked it up. I decided to join the anarchy so I attacked the first ATO agent that I saw. One swipe of the hatchet his arm went flying off. I proceeded to pick up his severed arm and beat him with it until the SWAT team showed up and tried to lay a beat down with their clubs. Fortunately, I dodged to the side, picked up a flame-thrower lying conveniently near by, and torched the entire SWAT team. Still feeling destructive, I picked up a machine gun that a yelling, burning swat member had dropped, and I began unloading the clip indiscriminately into the rioting crowd. I was, of course, incredibly impressed. I mean, damn, that’s a lot of violence to squeeze into thirty seconds.

SOEimage15.jpg (5862 bytes)The violent action in State of Emergency actually has a real ironic feel to it -- like the developers know how non-politically correct it is, and have chosen to consciously mock their own lack of restraint. It’s not just fun: it’s brilliant in a self-reflexive, hedonistic kind of a way. Yet being aware of State of Emergency’s hedonistic joy is liberating, and because of this it actually feels like a game about riots should feel. It is unrestrained, unbound destructive action. It’s not just a beat ‘em up game with an urban setting and people in the background to tell you you’re taking part in a riot. You will feel like you really are in a riot.

SOEimage29.jpg (5889 bytes)Rockstar tells us this effect will be somewhat moderated in the final version of the game. The violence will be directed at the evil ATO and their ruthless tactics, which will give some amount of moral justification for rioting in the streets and conspiring to take down the man. You’ll participate in riots with over 100 other people, and part of the trick is to guage the enthusiasm of the crowd in order to properly incite them to riot. You play through four expansive cities, and can control one of five disgruntled rebels (anarchists?).

LibrafireSOEimage9.jpg (5988 bytes)If you missed out on Seattle, or if you’re just sane enough to realize that rioting is much more fun in a videogame, State of Emergency will be one blockbuster title you won’t want to miss. And you won’t have a hard time finding out about when this one hits the market – it’s the kind of game that will make people talk. Piss off your parents, and the esteemed Mr. Ashcroft, this Fall.

New Screens:

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Old Screens:

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Jeff Luther


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