URBAN CHAOS / Eidos / Playstation

 

Urban Chaos is an interesting attempt to do Grand Theft Auto 3 one console generation earlier. Note that I say "interesting" and not "good." It's also an object lesson in why the PS1 was not built for this sort of thing and holding this concept for the next generation would have been a much better idea.

First of all, this is one of those old Playstation games that forces you to sit through a long and brutal tutorial before letting you play the actual game (see also Driver). The tutorial is actually much harder than anything you face in the actual game, since the game is open-world style and doesnt have these timed bullshit obstacle courses. Fortunately it seems you only have to complete three to proceed to the game proper: Driving Bronze and Combat Basics, which were the only easy ones of the bunch, and Physical Training, an obstacle course that's frustrating but eventually doable.

It's also one of those old Playstation games with "drunken sailor" 3D control, like an even more sloppy Tomb Raider (see also Syphon Filter.) The imprecision is killer in those timed obstacle courses and driving areas with tight turns. In the main game it's a little more forgivable but still sloppy and annoying.

 



The setting and the premise is interesting enough. You play as rookie cop D'Arci Stern just starting her career on the force in New York. Unlike most rookie cops, however, she has the martial arts acumen of a Mortal Kombat character, fortunately for her given the crazy stuff she's constantly asked to do. Anyway, it's at some point near the millenium and this evil cult is doing some shady rituals and going to rain devastation and etc. down on everyone. So on top of busting your normal perps, you've got that to handle too.

"Open world" isn't entirely accurate as you only get access to chunks of the city at a time. Inside those chunks, you're free to roam, however. You usually start out with a couple of missions you can tackle as you see fit, then more will be radioed in to you as you roam around. Once you've cleared all your main objectives the level ends and you move on to the next city chunk, however, you're free to sniff around for hidden items, and the game sometimes randomly generates things like muggings and gang fights in the environments for you to rack up some extra arrests.




The thing that really kills it all is just the shonky play control, wrestling with it constantly gets tiring so fast, even though the game is kinda on the easy side on the whole. There's also all the graphical problems you'd expect with an overly ambitious game on the PS1 - dark backgrounds, pop-in, tearing, murky color palette, clipping, etc. galore. And super-blocky character models that look like alien vegetable men.

The only real appeal of a game like this was back in 1999 when "open world" was barely even a thing, at least in 3D, and the relative freedom the game offered in roaming around and exploring was a neat novelty, enough so to put up with all the other crap. Nowadays we have GTA 4 and Saints Row 3 and all that offering the same experience but 100x better, so there's basically no point to playing this and putting up with its ugly aggravating jankiness.

 

Videos :

* Gameplay Video

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