STAFF REVIEW of Urban Chaos: Riot Response (Xbox)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006.
by Adam Rivard

Urban Chaos: Riot Response Box art Right, the original Xbox then. A big black box packing a relative amount of heat put to the test by many FPS?s. Urban Chaos Riot Response follows the trend of great shooters with a few exceptions. 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.

In the single player game, you take the role of Nick Mason, an elite copper of ?Unit T-Zero?, which is apparently ?the last line of law enforcement?. This seems slightly challenging, as they have seemed to forget the A-Team amongst all this drama. Yeah, so you are Nick, and you need to kill thugs that have taken your city. With guns. However, this isn?t the traditional run; fun and gun, there are many other elements too.

These other elements are that you can control medics and firemen with the D-Pad to get them to help you on your quest to save the city. Some of these people will show up all the way through the game, such as the medic Nick silently fancies and the firemen he has to escort to safety or a civilian in a burning building. These obviously help you along missions by doing specific actions such as putting out fires, chopping wood in your way, carrying civilians on their backs or simply reviving someone. No FPS is complete without a decent set of weaponry. Urban Chaos is no exception, as it contains the usual staples such as the humble pistol and the double barrelled shotgun to the delightful taser to arrest the thugs or burn them to ashes along with fun weaponry such as the chainsaw, for when you feel demonic and just want to relieve some stress after a hard days work. 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. The gameplay is rather fun but incredibly dramatic. People shouting all around you make you feel vulnerable at all times, like you are really in a warzone.
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.

Furthermore, the game controls perfectly, with easy to reach controls and intuitive use of the D-Pad to select actions with your helping character. To keep things simple, duel wielding weapons are assigned to only the normal trigger so you have your other hand free to frantically keep moving and covering to avoid being taken out.

Moving on, the graphics are of a high standard for the Xbox 1, and have that lovely Half Life 2 chunky feel to them. Enemies bleed the red stuff, fire looks like fire and the people look relatively like people so all is well in the looks department. The game is powered by the Havok engine, which, coincidentally, was also used in Halo 2. The physics is fun and works well, as rocket blown vehicles fly up into the air with profound force and enemies recoil after getting shot in the face. There is also another fancy visual effect when you headshot or take out a head gang member, as the action goes into bullet time as his body flies backwards and crashes into a hazard or to the ground. However, the enemies all look like extras from Manhunt, which are Eminem wannabes with a bizarre mask and obsession with swarming you in obscene numbers.

Additionally, the audio isn?t too bad either. Everything sounds as it should do and listening out for people?s voices becomes an integral part of proceeding through the various missions, as you learn when a friend is in trouble and needs your help or where a civilian is inside a burning building, and so sound can be very important at times. However, for the most part, the sound will go unnoticed as there is so much action in this game, it is hard to stop and think about things such as sound. Every weapon (from the shotgun to the pistol) also have a very realistic sound, nothing extraordinary but good.

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.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.6 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 7.8 / 10


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