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Urban Chaos: Riot Response Xbox

Published by Eidos
Developed by Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Urban Chaos: Riot Response, an introduction.

The original Urban Chaos was actually a very good game that didn't get half the attention it deserved. Developed by the now defunct Mucky Foot Productions and published by Eidos the game put you in the role of a futuristic police officer. The game had an open ended feel to it and you were free to roam the city and complete objectives as you desired. Urban Chaos was primarily a beat 'em up game though, something Urban Chaos: Riot Response definitely is not. In fact aside from sharing a similar title there's not a great deal in common between the two games. That's not to say it isn't a good game though.

What's the game about?

Urban Chaos: Riot Response is a FPS that puts you in the shoes of Nick Mason. Nick is an Elite Police Officer  who is part of the newly created special police unit T-Zero. T-Zero is the heavily armed police unit that is designed to be the ultimate defence in urban combat situations .  At the beginning of the game T-Zero is initially disliked by the public, who feel the unit is a complete waste of money. Unfortunately your city is under almost constant assault from organized gang violence and there's plenty of opportunities to show the general public that T-Zero is worth every last penny. The single-player game is comprised of eleven major missions as well as bonus missions. The game also offers System Link and Xbox Live play for up to 8 players.

What's good about the game?

This might seem like a crazy thing to say but the riot shield and the clever use you'll make of it during the game is definitely the best part of Urban Chaos: Riot Response. That's not to say the rest of the game isn't good. In fact in places it's very enjoyable and on the whole it's a good FPS that fans of the genre will appreciate. In the first mission you'll quickly find out how useful the shield is as you have to use it to protect yourself from lit jets of gas, as well as using it for more traditional forms of protection as the one gang member fires on you as you attempt to rescue a police officer. The shield can also be used as an effective mêlée weapon  or battering ram when you need to barge enemies out of the way. You can even throw grenades from behind the shield, which is rather useful.

So the riot shield and the use you'll make of it really adds something to the game but how does it feel and how does it compare to other FPS games on the console? Well we certainly don't have a game with the complexity of Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six but it's certainly a game that's easier to jump into. The controls actually feel very good and unlike a lot of console shooters, it felt easy to handle and aiming correctly wasn't a problem. The game doesn't attempt to be a 'realistic' shooter and it's all the better for it.  Right from the beginning it feels accessible. Sure it rewards good performance (such as achieving a set number of headshots or not having to fall back to the last checkpoint if you're killed etc.) in the way of giving medals (and bonus missions) which can be used to unlock weapon upgrades etc. but if you simply want to play through the levels in a casual manner there's no problem at all, which makes for a refreshing change. There's also a healthy dose of secondary objectives in each mission which will encourage you to replay the missions in order to complete them all, if you don't do so at the first time of playing. There are occasions where you'll have companions such as fire officers, paramedics and police officers. Interacting with and giving orders to these has also been kept beautifully straightforward.

What's not so good about the game?

Probably the most disappointing aspect of Riot Response is its level design. The various levels in the game range from enjoyable to downright dull. There's not a great deal of difference between the missions either and at times you end up feeling like you're doing the same old things time and time again. The biggest disappointments are the timed emergency rescue missions though, which seem really dull and uninspired when compared to the better missions in the game. The enemy AI isn't the brightest we've seen either and regardless of the difficulty level you play on (there are three difficulty levels by the way) you shouldn't have too much to  fear from the gang members and the  gang leaders that you'll face. Sure they'll lob their Molotov cocktails and cleavers at you, amongst other things, but in all honesty they don't represent much of a problem. Even when you have to rescue a hostage who's being held at gunpoint (by slowly approaching the gang member with your shield raised, waiting for him to fire off a round and then aiming for his head etc.) or take down a gang leader with the stun gun (which requires getting within touching  distance of them) the difficulty is never that great.

How does it look?

Riot Response actually looks very good for the most part. The character models and environments look good and it's impressive that the frame rate remains fairly constant even during heavy periods of action. The damage modelling on your riot shield is impressive. This ranges from bullet holes to heat effects and it's very nice to see such stylish touches.  Stylish, bullet-time like, slow motion sequences occur when you take out key enemies. The game also makes use of the famed Havok physics to good effect.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Urban Chaos: Riot Response does offer subtitles although they aren't enabled by default. The games cutscenes, which are mainly news bulletins from Channel 7 news, are all subtitled. Most of the dialogue in the main game is subtitled (at least the essential dialogue is subtitled anyway) and it was pleasing to see the subtitles were colour-coded. If I have one small complaint it would be that the subtitles in the main game could have been slightly larger. You'll receive text notifications when objectives are issued and when they have been completed. Objectives can be recalled at any time from the pause menu ( you can access that by pressing the start button). All tutorial messages are shown in text which means you'll have no problems if you decide to jump straight into the game rather than browsing the manual first. The HUD is quite informative and allows you to keep track of your ammo and health (as well as your team mate's health in situations where you have a companion. This is important and there are times when you need to protect your team mate as part of the objectives.

Final thoughts.

One of the main strengths of Urban Chaos: Riot Response is that it's a FPS that is accessible and it can be played for short durations as the missions aren't really that long. The replay value is also quite good unless you manage to complete all of the secondary and bonus achievements at the first time of playing. Some of the levels are poor though and the AI isn't the most challenging we've seen. You have to admire the use of the riot shield in the game and it's easily the best use of a shield we can remember in a game of this nature. Urban Chaos: Riot Response isn't the best FPS we've seen on the Xbox but it has its moments and makes a refreshing change from all these tactical shooters that take themselves far too seriously.  

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Urban Chaos: Riot Response is actually quite enjoyable in parts and the innovative use made of the riot shield adds a touch of originality to the game. However, some missions could have been more interesting and the AI could have been more challenging. On the whole though, it's a solid and easy to get into FPS.