For those of you who weren't around during the release of the original State of Emergency, I'll paint the picture. Rockstar had successfully launched Grand Theft Auto 3, and the EB I worked at was still selling out of every shipment. Due to this, State of Emergency had an astounding amount of hype – many thought it would trump GTA in terms of chaotic fun and wanton destruction. At long last, the game arrived, plastered with a sticker proclaiming it could only be sold to those over 18. Everybody wanted a copy, and just about everyone bought one. Then, one to two days later, everybody returned it (keep in mind, this was back when you could return opened games). The backlash, fueled by high expectations, was intense.
Why? Well, Grand Theft Auto presents you with a wide variety of options in a large city. State of Emergency, on the other hand, was limited to causing chaos (read: killing people and blowing stuff up) in constricted levels. Sure, that sounds fun, and truthfully it was – for about ten minutes. Furthermore, the main mission mode was more of an exercise in anger management than entertaining gameplay. Even though the game sold over a million units, public opinion of the title was very poor.
Now, let's talk about E3 for a bit. With so many games on display, developers need a hook to lure you into their booths. Common baits include scantily clad booth babes, extravagant booth design (see: Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3 jungle or Square's couches) and a large monitor displaying gameplay and/or trailers. The theory goes that X lures you in, and game Y is so great that it keeps you there.
I must have walked past State of Emergency 2 four or five times before my brain registered its presence at the show. Placed in a bare booth with no attention grabbers, many passed right by without even noticing the kiosks.
Here's the basic gist of it – have you played State of Emergency? Then you've played State of Emergency 2. Sure, some things have been changed up a bit, but the basic gameplay remains untouched. For instance, you can now recruit a gang that obeys your commands. While controlling a gang adds to the intensity of a riot, it doesn't add much to the game itself. Missions are more thought out, focusing more on destruction and less on escorting/chasing certain characters. New weapons have been added and crowd AI has been improved, as have the graphics, but the new weapons only serve to increase the variety in which you can go about your destructive ways. Basically, the game still lacks the depth to hold your interest and keep one playing for more than ten minutes.
With publishing and distribution now handled by BAM! Entertainment, State of Emergency 2 is still a work in progress. Just like all the other games shown at E3, SoE2 has the potential to change considerably between now and its to-be-announced release date. As it stands now, however, SoE2 is just more of the same, likely to be overshadowed once again by the Grand Theft Auto series.