The publishers of Grand Theft Auto III are back with another game geared towards a mature audience. But fans of GTA III should note that while State of Emergency contains adult themes and extremely violent gameplay, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Whereas GTA III was about creating a deep experience unlike any other video game, SOE is a throwback to arcade beat-'em-ups like Smash TV and Double Dragon. However, the game takes the genre to a new level with mind-blowing graphics.
In State of Emergency, you play as one of five selectable characters that's going up against the Corporation--a tyrannical group that has the city in an iron grip. The city is in a state of disarray and the citizens are rebelling. Amazingly, up to 250 characters can riot onscreen at once. It's shocking that the developers were able to render so many moving characters while keeping a smooth frame rate. Basic gameplay consists of picking up numerous weapons and objects to cause as much damage as humanly possible. Providing context to the mindless violence are the revolution and chaos modes. The former is the game's story mode and features more than 175 missions, while the latter is a single-session mode with a few variations.
For the most part, the game is an enjoyable cacophony of senseless violence, but there are some flaws. Although the revolution mode boasts an impressive number of missions, they do get repetitive. The game screams for a multiplayer mode, but it's strictly one player. In spite of these flaws, the game remains addictive and fun. It bears repeating that gamers looking for another GTA III will not find it here: this game provides an arcadelike experience that's excellent, but in a very different way. Parents should note that this game carries a Mature rating for its blood, violence, and gore. --Raymond M. Padilla