The first State of Emergency was a promisingly anarchistic, pleasantly violent game that lost its fun within an hour or two. Living in a society kept down by an opressive government, it was your rebellious civic duty to literally incite and maintain riots. It looked the business, with impressive gaggles of hysterical civilians crowding your screen, but it quickly betrayed its shallow, under-developed, beat-and-shoot 'em-up gameplay.
Nearly four years (and several publishers) later, State of Emergency 2 arrives courtesy of publisher SouthPeak and new developer DC Studios - makers of Whac-A-Mole and Bratz. If you're wondering if this is really a less-polished sequel made for less money and with the same technology some four years later, you're right. And if you think that's bad, you're right again.
SOE2 is made up of three modes. If you want to know which is the "fun one," it's the bonus mission called "Let's try to return this game to the store an hour after we bought it." The story mode strays too far from the manic, riotous nature that made the first game tolerable, instead fixating on awful escort missions or painful sniping tasks. The arcade mode gives you bite-sized levels where the absolute best ones still don't compare to the original. Finally, multiplayer is perhaps the least fun of them all - save for being able to laugh at the horrible looking levels and flawed gameplay with friends.
Regardless of the mode, you find horrendous run-and-gun play. The camera is hard-wired to your character's buttocks, but it still struggles to be useful. With no auto-targeting, trying to kill up-close characters or fast-moving helicopters is futile. You can't jump or dive, so mobility is not a strong suit, though leaning around corners is the game's lone smart action. SOE2's enemies are too dumb to do things like follow you up a ladder, and can only kill you through sheer numbers or advanced weaponry. This happens often enough that you'll curse the story mode's lack of checkpoints.
Four years and no notable graphical upgrades later, State of Emergency 2's visuals hurt like a shotgun blast to the forehead. The vast majority of the PSP's catalog looks better. Without as much mob activity, the uber-basic characters flounder in a sea of generic environments that include prison and a dockyard. Even the city streets are excruciatingly uninteresting.
It's 2006 here, everybody. We as a gaming populace should be too smart to fall for a substandard game a second time - especially when it can't even live up to its weak predecessor. State of Emergency 2 deserves a spot right next to 25 To Life, 187: Ride or Die, and Final Fight Streetwise as another title that's an urban nightmare for all the wrong reasons. Stop buying them, and hopefully they'll go away.