Fresh from releasing the excellent Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games has once again released a controversial title. It’s the year 2043, and the central government has been replaced by The Corporation, an entity that has the stranglehold on freedom. As a member of the Freedom movement, it’s your task to cause as much mayhem as possible and overthrow the evil Corporation.
First off, you’ll be able to choose either Mack, a former police chief, or Libra, a District Attourney turned Freedom supporter. Later on, as you play though the modes, you’ll be able to unlock a further 3 characters. 5 characters does seem like a small selection, considering the fact that all of them plays basically the same. The bigger characters like Bull pack more power, while the smaller Libra compensated in terms of speed.
There are 2 gaming modes in SoE - the Chaos Mode and the Revolution Mode. The former is much like an arcade mode, whereby you play the game with a time limit trying to rack up as much points as you can. In the Revolution Mode, you’ll be handed mission objectives, like escorting a Freedom agent through the riot, or kill a certain VIP that the Corporation is protecting. Overall there are close to 200 missions to be completed, which adds to the game’s replay value emensely.
In SoE, you can engage in hand-to-hand combat, or pick up ranged weapons for melee attacks. There’s the punch and kick button, and you can pull of combos to deal that much need extra damage to your opposition. Corporation agents or even gang members often gang up on you, and you can pick up weapons like swords, or bats to hold them at bay, or press triangle to execute a 360 degrees roundhouse move. Each kill will grant you extra seconds on the timer, and also health packs to replenish your energy.
SoE also provides quite an extensive range of melee weapons. Aside from Uzi and shotguns, you also get flame throwers, rocket launchers, mini gun and grenades. Just use common sense when discharging the rocket launcher though... if you don’t get enough distance, the blast impact will hurt you as well. If that’s not enough for you, you can also pick up trash cans or park benches and bash your enemy with them.
Raking up point is easy, more so in the Chaos mode. At times, you get more points by completing the mini objective that the game announces at specific intervals. For example, it can tell you to smash up window for extra points. Doing that would multiply your points, making it easier to reach the point that you targetted.
All’s good and well so far, but SoE does have its inherent weaknesses. Firstly, the repetitive gameplay. The hand-to-hand combat is badly done, and you simply bash buttons to beat down the opposition. If you’re fighting one-on-one, then there’s no problem, but you’re frequently surrounded by Corporation agents and gang menbers, and the very basic fighting move fails miserably. The addition of a Musuo move like in Dynasty Warriors 3 would have add more spice to the combat.
The playing areas are also a problem. The missions are staged in small areas, but the developers conceal this by giving you small objectives at the other end of the area, making you run all the way there to complete it, before going to another corner to complete another one. This makes all the action a bit tedious. Coupled with the fact that you can’t enter the stores and loot things, it feels like a watered down version of GTA3.
On the whole, the game looks great. The character models are smooth, albeit represented in a cartoony sort of way. The surrounding environments are also reasonably detailed, and they had no problems showcasing a lot of people on screen at the same time. Civilians run for cover as you go on a killing spree, and corporation agents gang up on you if they spot you carrying arms. Fire of a rocket launcher at that oil tanker in the middle of the street, and watch it go down in flames. Sweet.
Make no mistake, the game is fun, but only for a short period. It doesn’t have the polish of GTA to give you motivation to complete the game. We often wonder why Rockstar haven’t included any kind of multiplayer mode, which would have given the game much more replay value.
A short game with little to hold you over for extended play. The excessive gore as limbs fly off from explosions might be fun to watch, but in the long run SoE lack the depth that is much needed in next generation titles. A rent title at best.
Former owner and editor in chief of Darkstation.com