One of the most underrated FPS games of the PS2 era is also one of the best.
+Incredible sound effects
+Offers the best riot shield use I've seen
+Tons of replay value despite the inactivity online
+Enemy A.I. packs a huge punch
+Packs a lot of fun into its simple design, as GameSpot said
+Has enough blood to satisfy even the most bloodthirsty gamer
+Melee weapons are tons of fun to swing around
-Online play has literally no players
-Graphics, though they aren't bad, could have used some work
-Environments are slightly repetitive
Who would have thought that a game like Urban Chaos could be pulled off? Well, developer Rocksteady, the creators of the highly popular Batman: Arkham Asylum, certainly did. Being the only other title from the studio besides Arkham Asylum, it surprises me that hardly anybody checked it out. It's an original, brutal, action-packed shooter that is not only one of the most underrated FPS games of the PS2 era, but also one of the best. Up there with Black and Call of Duty 3, it's my favorite single-player shooter in my PS2 collection. Sure, it has a few flaws, but the games' originality alone saves them.
Urban Chaos puts you in the shoes of Nick Mason (a.k.a. T-Zero), an elite police officer who is simply.....well, a police officer. He basically works for the city and protects it from serious crime. Now, here's the part where it gets original. Urban Chaos is set in modern society. No, not modern war, modern society as in, like, SOCIETY. Society with criminals, ambulances, firemen, cops, civilians, gang members, and all that you'll find in a big city. While the violence and concept is highly exaggerated, putting you in the shoes of a cop in modern crime-ridden society is one of the most original concepts in an FPS to date. Other games in other genres have done it, but the FPS is usually about science fiction or modern warfare or WWII or something like that, so it's nice to see this setting. I mean, it's from the Arkham Asylum makers, can you go wrong?
The game's level design is pretty straightforward, taking place in environments like burning buildings, parking lots, subways, rooftops, streets, sewers, and just about every location in a city. Unfortunately, the level design is a slight bit repetitive. Not as repetitive as the early Halo games, but sort of like Half-Life's design. The feel changes, but the look is usually similar. It's not too big a deal, though. Throughout the levels, you fight off these gang members (forget the names) who wear Jason Voorhees masks and attempt to slice you, burn you, shoot you, and/or pummel you. They are relatively easy to kill, but they pack a lot of punch against you, since the A.I. is extremely well done.
Graphically, Urban Chaos looks decent, but it doesn't look great. The environments are realistically designed, but the textures are bland, and the character models are generic and look dated even for 2006. It's the art that feels a bit underwhelming, but the technology is what keeps it from visual failure. Thankfully it doesn't look choppy or muddy, which is what turns me off. The sound effects, which are almost as good as BLACK's, make up for the lackluster graphics by being powerful, loud, and amplifying. Well, the guns, that is. But, whatever. It sounds great.
You get standard FPS guns like pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, etc. You also get one of those things that cops use to stun people (a tazer, or however you spell it). If you use it, you get medals in the levels for 'non-lethal enforcing'. For the first few levels, you have to stun 5 enemies, but as the game progresses, the numbers get higher. You get several melee weapons, like a cleaver, and Molotov Cocktails, which you can swing around or throw like a knife. The game has a passion for these, and it is much, much more fun to use than in other games. You'll see what I mean if you play it.
You can also get medals for headshots, collecting gang masks for evidence, and surviving a level without dying. If you play on the highest difficulty level, you can earn all the medals again and they count as different medals. There are a total of 204 medals you can earn in the game. That makes for some obvious replayablity, which is where the game is at.
There is multiplayer in Urban Chaos, but literally nobody uses it and it's online only, no split screen, so you can basically assume its one player only. I tried to go online, but there wasn't anybody to play with so I gave up. If you can't find anybody still online with a PS2 game after a few tries, then that means it's dead. I guess if nobody knew about the game before, then today why would there be anybody? But who cares? Solo mode is where this game was meant to shine.
BOTTOM LINE: It still makes me a bit curious thinking about why this game didn't get enough recognition. Urban Chaos is an original game in the classic sense of the word; it simply is a new way to have fun with some big guns in a unique new setting. Despite the inactivity online and somewhat repetitive level design, Urban Chaos is a mega fun, pick-up-and-play FPS that anybody with a taste for the genre should add to their shooter library. So, to sum things up: From the creators of Batman: Arkham Asylum comes Urban Chaos: Riot Response, a brutal good time to be had by shooter fans. If you missed this one, buy it now.
Graphics: 7.0- This is the category that gets a bit sticky. The technology is impressive, but the lack of art direction makes for generic character models and bland textures. Not for the serious graphics whore, but it shouldn't be a huge deal.
Sound: 10- Incredible. Comparable to BLACK, the guns are powerful, the threatening blows to an enemy's head and limbs are juicy, and the huge banging of your riot shield all make for one violent treat to the ears.
Gameplay: 8.5- While the objectives are straightforward, the combat is super fun, and the melee weapons make it even more fun. The riot shield is a nice addition, too.
Replay Value: 9.5- Though the online play is inactive, the solo mode contains several levels, 3 difficulty settings to plow through, 204 medals, unlockable mini-games, and much, much more. This could last you quite a while.
Overall: 9.5/10 (not an average)