Review by sfcalimari
"It's a riot"
Ok let's get to it.
This game basically plays like any other fps game, except for the riot shield. The shield is awesome, and is a great little innovation that really makes this game stand out. You raise it in front of you by holding down L1, and when it is up, you shield yourself from bullets, meat cleavers, molotovs, and even the occasional gas flame. You can't shoot from behind the shield, but you can toss projectiles like nail bombs and riot grenades. You can also go up to an enemy with the shield up and press R1 to smash them with the shield, which is fun now and then.
Many of the weapons are pretty standard for a fps, such as pistols, uzis, and shotguns, but there are some unusual ones, like nail bombs, chainsaws, and meat cleavers. You can also use weapons such as your taser and riot bombs to take down your enemies without killing them.
The enemies in this game, terrorists called the "Burners," aren't particularly smart or deadly, but they certainly can kill you quickly if you take your eye off the ball. They mostly appear in set locations, so for instance if you move past a certain point in a corridor, three guys will jump out and attack you. Not particularly interesting AI-wise, but many of the enemies will charge at you and attack you with knives or chainsaws or whatever, so watch your back.
A real plus in this game is the ragdoll--when you kill enemies they will often go flying in unpredictable but very realistic ways. And unlike most fps games for the ps2, this game is quite bloody and realistic. At random times when you kill an enemy, you will get to see the enemy's death in slow motion, in all its bloody glory, which is a lot of fun. If only all fps games had this.
Although most of the gameplay involves lots of insane running and gunning, in most levels you have a few emergency personnel allies to tag along and help you out with level objectives. A fireman can clear debris or put out fires in your path. A medic can heal wounded civilians or provide you with a health refill. A police officer can help you attack the enemy, though I never found these guys to be very useful. Make sure your allies don't get attacked by the Burners, because if the allies die it's mission failed for you. Although tagging along with a fireman rescuing wounded civilians might sound lame in such a violent game, the rescue objectives actually give the gameplay a sense of purpose and keeps the game from being a bland shoot 'em up.
I'm torn about the story. On the one hand, it is pretty interesting. On the other, it is quite lame. The story is that your city (which is never named) is overrun by a crazy terrorist gang called the Burners, who seem to have an affinity for hockey masks and general mayhem. Meanwhile you are a member of T-Zero, the "Zero Tolerence" anti-gang unit charged with ridding the city of the Burner menace.
So far, so good, right? Well, you are never really told much about the Burners or why they hate you and the city so much, although the dull fake news broadcasts in between every level say something at one point about how the Burners want to make America pay for its arrogance or something. I think they could have invested a little more in describing the Burners' motive, but all you really get is "they're scum bags, kill em all." I don't generally play action games for the story, though, but I think the game could have been more evocative and interesting if they had told the story with more detail. As it is, the game feels like a brain-dead 80's action movie. Nothing wrong with that, but don't expect to get carried away by the story.
Honestly, the graphics are quite bad, though they get the job done. When you turn on the game, the introductory logos look very nice, but the actual in-game graphics are pretty bad by 2006 standards. The levels and enemy Burners look ok though trending towards bland, but your allies look like refugees from a psOne game, or a very early ps2 game. They're blocky, drab, unemotive, and it doesn't help that they seem like pretty boring, unintelligent people from their gestures and dialogue. The gameplay is fun enough that you probably won't care too much, though.
The sound is ok, but nothing too special. The voice acting by the enemy Burners is decent enough--they're always screaming at you about how they're going to come after your family...yikes! But the voice acting by your allies, just like their character design, is pretty lame, and you'll probably be mashing X to skip through their boring monologues. I think there is background music during the levels, but I never really noticed it, so it must not be very good, eh? The title screen for the game has a cool weird blues/rock song that plays over and over again though.
The controls are quite good, though slightly awkward. Unlike so many recent ps2 fps games, there is no aim-assist that constantly tries to tug your aiming reticule to any nearby enemies. This is good. The manual aim is fluid and responsive without being jerky. Also good. Plus you can adjust the sensitivity of the horizontal and vertical aiming. Excellent. All games should have this sort of thing.
The controls are a bit awkward in that you need to use the R3 and L3 button, always the most awkward to use, for some important stuff. L3 makes you crouch, and R3 zooms in the aim on your weapon. L1, usually the aim/zoom button for fps games, is instead for bringing up your shield, which is about as important as zoom aim. Also you can carry several different weapons at once, but switching between them is very awkward and can make a hectic situation worse.
UCRR overall is quite short, with only eleven levels. I finished the game in about a day and a half on normal difficulty. Fortunately the game has a lot more replayability than most fps games, because you can go back through levels and complete certain objectives to get medals which unlock better weapons and other goodies. For instance if you take down a certain amount of enemies with non-lethal force, you will get a medal. Or a certain number of headshots. Or collect 5 gang masks which are scattered throughout the levels. Getting these medals can be quite challenging and won't be finished quickly. Also if you take down the gang leader in each level using non-lethal force, you will get access to an "emergency" level where you have to rescue a civilian before the clock runs out. Finish these bonus levels and get access to special weaponry.
Yes, the game has an online mode. However it's really not much fun, and it is hard to find a game that you can log into. I have only played it once, and it was pretty unimpressive--just a lot of running around shooting up enemies. You might like it, but I found it pretty lacking.
Overall, UCRR is a fun fps with a fair amount of replayability, and it's a lot more fun than most ps2 fps games. The riot shield and the weapons are quite creative and fun to use, and the hectic action is always a blast. I would say it is a buy, though it would also work as a rent. It's a rent if you just want to blast through the story mission, but a buy if you want to complete every objective and maybe check out the online.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/18/06
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