State of Emergency 2 was not what I had expected. My thoughts were that after the title screen where a SoE 2 logo explodes out of the darkness and cracks my TV screen, I'd be let loose to do my evil biddings in the middle of urban chaos. Things like loot stores, destroy innocent bystanders, and hooker-beat my way to a high score. Afterwards, I'd shoot up the interstate with my dad's 9mm and then finish building my altar to Satan. Instead, there's this intro and character setup. All of this dialogue, and these scenes cut in-between levels where people say naughty four-letter words yet no spontaneous human explosions or blood showers. What's the deal with that? We get impatient during the grueling respawn wait after a suicide in Halo 2, so do they honestly think we're ready to deal with a story?
Okay, okay, one step at a time. Start at the beginning. It's four years after the exchange of words and ideas in SoE, and things haven't gone swimmingly. The main guy from the original is in jail and is about to be gassed. He's surrounded by church-like pews and excited news reporter. (Subtle media satire alert!) He looks to meet his maker until he finds a gun and gas mask taped underneath his seat. This is where you (the player), come in. Still strapped in by the legs, take control and shoot the glass and the dozens of guards with machine guns. Their bullets whiz by and shatter the tiles around us, but whatever you do, don't stop shooting. Reduce them to pools of red jelly. Now that's what I'm talking about! And not one heart sucked off the life meter. We are so damn talented.
Then things get strange. The next few levels we're in the corridors and the hallways (someone needs to clean up all those boxes, by the way) trying to figure out how to get out of the prison compound. Except we have to peek around every corner so we don't get wasted by sentry guns. Unnecessary strategic gameplay quirk? You bet! And boring, too. When do we get to open fire into mall crowds?
Then things get worse. We're on the prison rooftops and given the dreaded, pace-killing sniper gun. So not only do we have to sneak around every corner, but we're stranded in the middle of a roof, having to look in every direction every minute through a rifle scope. Yawn.
Things continue to get worse. And by that I mean better. Free from the prison at last, the game gets progressively stupid, just as it should be. The levels become more open and simple, there are hordes of panicked people running around, and we get to semi-guide the crowd around by influence them in whatever way you can. And thankfully, no corners to peek around. Just holding down the shotgun trigger and watching people fly away like balls of paper.
As the action gets more chaotic, the game degrades into this total, no-challenge simplicity. And the designers, realizing our brains are now away and enjoying the view in Cancun, saves the uncomplicated best for last. The last level (in which you march towards the Evil Corp™ HQ whose presence justifies all this ridiculous bloodshed) is best described as going straight on a bridge for ten minutes, then turning right, and then turning left. It's so surreal and absurd, it's wonderful. Now, pardon me, I have a society to collapse.