Videogame Reviews

The 'Riot' Act

Videogame reviews: Geoff Keighley gets bored playing the police thriller ''Urban Chaos: Riot Response.'' Meanwhile, J.P. Mangalindan gets hooked on a portable version ''Point Blank''

'URBAN CHAOS'
'URBAN CHAOS'

Our gamers play ''Urban Chaos'' and ''Point Blank''

URBAN CHAOS: RIOT RESPONSE
(Eidos; Mature; PS2, Xbox)
Players wishing to make it to the end of this modern-day police thriller are enouraged to walk softly and carry a big riot shield. Words that ring especially true when your youthful opponents arrive armed with Molotov cocktails and meat cleavers. As Nick ''Angel'' Mason, the head of an anti-terrorist squad known as T-Zero (as in ''zero'' tolerance), you must take back the city from the Burners, a legion of violent rabble-rousers who are not above taking hostages (while dressed up like Jason Voorhees).

The gameplay is typical of what's found in most first-person-shooters, with one notable twist: You carry a huge and near-indestructible riot shield (which doubles as a pretty effective battering ram). Oh, and let's not forget the stun gun, which can be used to earn the ''non-lethal enforcer medal.'' (Robocop would be proud!)

Besides the unique shield gameplay, Urban Chaos ends up being far too predictable. The levels are repetitive, the graphics are bland, and there's little in the way of strategy to how you gun down (or should we say ''stun down''?) the terrorists. So forget images of a 24-like standoff, with dozens of swift tactical agents storming locations like Grand Plaza Station. Instead, the characters you're presented with — including a fireman and a medic — do very little beyond opening doors and walking off screen. Ultimately, this so-called Chaos is, for the most part, repetitive and boring. Well, except for the flying meat cleavers. C+Geoff Keighley

POINT BLANK DS
(Namco Bandai; Everyone; Game Boy DS)
Even compared to flashier arcade shooters like Time Crisis and House of the Dead, Point Blank, in all its deceptive austerity, manages to satisfy the nostalgic gamer in me. The original Namco title, released in 1994, was never a looker — instead of polygonal henchmen, cardboard cutouts and simple sprites swarm the screen — relying instead on an array of amusement-park-fare minigames and its spot-on controls.

Previous console versions always offered a (much-preferred) light-gun option, but the little ol' DS has no such accessory, cleverly making use of its touch screen and stylus to replicate aiming and shooting — players simply tap their intended target. Surprisingly, this technique actually works — and it's more challenging than you might think. While acing Practice and Beginner modes only takes a few minutes, the Advanced and Insane options (try nailing 45 quickly moving cutouts in 20 seconds) will leave you frantically tapping for rematches.

The added Brain Massage option seems like a nice afterthought, but nothing more. And while 60 minigames sounds like a healthy number, you'll quickly play through them in several hours, leaving you wanting more — which, for a 12-year-old game, is no small feat. But neither, it seems, is this version of Point Blank. BJ.P. Mangalindan

Originally posted Jun 16, 2006
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