Urban Chaos

Moby ID: 1332
Windows Specs
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As the 2nd millennium ends, the cities are over-ran with Apocalyptic violence. Is this down to urban frustrations, or a sinister cult controlling everybody? You are either cop D'Arcy Stern or former soldier Roper McIntyre, and have to find the answers, but more importantly put a stop to the carnage.

This involves a succession of action-packed non-linear missions. The environment incorporates shadows, rain, fog and a day/night cycle. Police cars, motorcycles and ambulances must be controlled during some missions. There are many ways to 'settle' the enemies - car chases, hand-to-hand combats and action movie-style shoot outs for example.

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Credits (Windows version)

144 People (127 developers, 17 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 47 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 50 ratings with 4 reviews)

Potentially great, but ruined by a couple of bad design decisions

The Good
I can't help liking Urban Chaos, despite the fact that it caused me so much frustration I eventually gave up and stopped playing it.

But there is so much to like here. This was a GTA3 style, 3rd-person, running/shooting/driving game in a crime-filled city, which came out before GTA3. The city is dark and grimy, yet the visuals have a nice style to them - Chunky and slightly cartoonish - which takes the edge off. There are some great weather effects, nice reflections in the puddles and leaves whirl around. You have complete freedom to roam around each large city area, climbing ladders to rooftops where you can survey the skyline, then leaping and hanging on to power cables strung between buildings, sliding through the air and jumping off on another rooftop a few blocks away. The city is atmospheric - moreso than GTA3 - and has a lot of character. The voice-acting is well-done and quietly humorous. Your character, D'Arcy Stern, is a believable tough-talking female cop in a world which seems to have come directly from a violent '80s action flick. Random civilians make quirky comments when you stop them on the street. Sound effects are generally good and add to the atmosphere. There's also a great intro sequence.

As someone else commented, this has a lot in common with oldskool 2D side-scrolling brawlers such as Streets Of Rage. You will spend a lot of time fighting with gang punks. You can beat 'em up, shoot 'em, hit them with various blunt objects or arrest them. It definitely gets repetitive, but I remember the feeling of excitement as I saw D'Arcy handcuff her first criminal. Yes, unlike GTA, you play one of the good guys in this game and arresting people can be rather satisfying. While I'm talking about character control, it's worth noting that this game tries to throw in everything Lara Croft can do, as well as giving you some extra options. So you can leap, climb, hang onto ledges and pull yourself up; You can also crawl around, sneak, hide in shadows, hug walls and perform silent takedowns... And for the most part it works pretty well.

Driving is a lot of fun. The vehicles handle in a simple, arcade-y style, and it's certainly enjoyable crashing around the city in a cop car, lights flashing. The training levels make you perform some speed tests, which are fun in their own right.

There is much attention to detail in this game, and a lot of good features packed in. For instance, every so often, you'll unlock a bonus mission with a completely different character - One of the violent gang members who D'Arcy is trying to bust. The couple of these missions I played were fun and a refreshing change from the world of law-enforcement. I got to see the flipside of this dirty coin. Not that the missions did anything to endear me to the criminal gangs. Instead, it was just mindless and cruel violence with as much cop-killing as possible. These missions are purely there as 'bonus' content - You don't have to play them if you don't want to, but I found them to be some of the best missions in the game.

One of the best things about Urban Chaos, though, is its ability to put you in genuine 'action movie' style situations, which then become anecdotes you can tell your friends. For example: In one mission, I had to rescue a TV reporter from a beach-house where she was being held hostage by armed thugs. This was a tricky one as the mission is over if the hostage (who has very low hit-points) should die. There were various ways to approach the situation, and stealth seemed like the best option. Unfortunately, after A LOT of failed attempts where the hostage was gunned down as we were trying to escape, in extreme frustration I decided to forget about stealth, and try a different approach. I sneaked up on a guard who was patrolling the perimeter, knocked him on the back of the head and stole his AK-47 assault rifle. Then I stormed the beach-house in a glorious blaze of bullets that was pure action-movie fun. I ran off with the hostage, running out of ammo in the AK, and switching to a shotgun as more thugs ran at me. Then the hostage and I jumped in the police car I'd arrived in earlier and high-tailed it out of there. The only problem was the police car was badly damaged as some goons had shot at it earlier. I had been playing the mission for the last hour or so (with no saving allowed... more on that later >:) so I was very nervous as I tore round the streets. All I had to do was get back to the police station and the mission would be complete. As I rounded the corner just before the cop shop, I swerved and smashed, at high speed, right into a lamp-post! The car exploded. I saw my character, and the weak hostage, lying on the ground next to the burning car. "Oh no!" I thought, expecting the 'mission failed' screen to come up at any moment. Then the hostage shakily stood up and came over to my prone body. A moment later, I stood up, too. The car was wrecked. We were almost dead. I could see on the radar that goons were closing in. I took out my shotgun again and we ran as fast as we could, through the streets, and straight into the police station. Mission completed. YES!

But... Note that quite a bit of the excitement and glory in this anecdote comes from one simple fact: I FINALLY COMPLETED THE MISSION! After I don't know how many attempts. Why so many attempts? Time for the next section, I think...

The Bad
YOU CAN'T SAVE THE GAME DURING A MISSION! That's it. All the fun of this game is basically ruined by this one design decision. I'm not asking for a quicksave so I can continually abuse it every step of the way and reload if my health looks a little dodgy. All I'm asking for here is a couple of savepoints on each level. Is that too much to ask?

Okay, other games can manage to get away without in-mission saving, right? So why is Urban Chaos so completely ruined by it?

Because each mission can take more than an hour to play, especially if you want to collect all the bonuses that are scattered around the city. These bonuses increase various stats for your character, giving you more health, quicker recovery time, more powerful punches, etc., etc. They're hidden all over the place, so if you really want them (which is certainly advisable), you have to invest quite a lot of time working out where they all are. As the maps tend to be of the 'sprawling' variety, and you'll need to investigate every rooftop back alley, this will take a while. Then when you've memorised all the power-up locations, you'll have to actually go grab 'em (which can take 20 or 30 minutes). Then you'll have to attend to the actual mission itself. On top of these, each mission is longer than it seems, as when you complete the objective, another objective will pop up, or something will happen story-wise and your objective will change... Or turn into a number of sub-objectives. Round every street corner, there are likely to be thugs lusting for your blood, and YOU CAN'T SAVE! Plus you only have one life (Realistic, if nothing else). This means if you get beaten to the pavement, or if (on one of your many rooftop excursions), you misjudge a jump and plunge eight storeys to your death... Well, it's 'game over, try again.'

Because so much time is invested in playing each level, and because death can come at any moment (Sometimes due to bugs, as well - Ugh!), this leads to annoyance... then frustration... then frustration on a grand scale... and finally, what happened to me... The uninstallation of a game that I actually really liked.

One of the most annoying ways that death can come is if a random criminals happens to knock you to the ground. You might fight 50 or more punks in one level, take numerous hits to the face, but a simple leg-sweep from any one of these goons and you're left, lying on the ground, unable to move for at least about 5 seconds. D'Arcy lies there serenely, not even trying to get up and there's nothing you can do about it. If you're surrounded by a few punks, they'll start furiously stomping on your downed body, and in a few short seconds, full health can become zero health. It's a crushing feeling, watching D'Arcy lying there and the health bar going down, especially if you've spent the last 65 minutes playing through the level, you're almost at the end and that progress is suddenly erased.

Speaking of fights, this is primarily a fighting game but there isn't a lot of point in fighting. You can kick, punch and perform combos, but why bother when each fight is exactly the same and the best move by far is to put your opponent on the ground and slap the cuffs on 'em? Hand-to-hand fights become an annoyance more than anything, and 'arresting' people is the quickest and safest way to get through them. Why risk a drawn-out fight which could result in D'Arcy lying stretched out on the floor so she can get beaten to a pulp again?

Guns are much better. They can be pretty fun, though the aiming leaves something to be desired.

Another terrible feature... If an enemy is shooting at you, you see a crosshair locked on your character. All you can really do at this point is roll around, jump left to right, to try to avoid being shot. When you're just running around, this isn't so bad, but when you're in a fight, the game locks you into 'fighting mode' and it's pretty hard to get out of. Meanwhile, if a goon is standing some distance away and is shooting at you, there is literally nothing you can do about it. You have to desperately mash your way out of the fight, then run off and deal with the gun-toting maniac before the other goons can drag you back into a fight again. It sucks!

It's been a while since I played this game, but as I'm writing about it, I'm really remembering that the controls are not very good. I got used to them, but it took a long time. I had to replay some of the training missions tens of times before I managed to complete them. Which is a good time to mention that there are several training missions, you HAVE to complete them before you can get into the proper game, and some of them have extremely tight time limits (for no apparent reason). Not good.

The Bottom Line
I love Urban Chaos' atmosphere and style. I like being able to jump around the rooftops (It's just a pity that that it's often more of a chore than anything and carries the constant threat of falling to your death). The game was extremely innovative and also did a pretty decent job in melding together bits from various other games. It provided me with some memorable gaming moments.

But in the end, it was a total waste of time. Spending hours and hours replaying the same mission over and over is NOT fun. With savepoints in missions, this could have been a classic. As it is, it's a crying shame and a couple of weeks I wish I'd spent doing something else. What a pity!

Windows · by xroox (3895) · 2008

Fun yet incredibly annoying

The Good
The whole premise of this game is that a sexy street wise police officer, D'arcy Stone, has to run around a 3D cyber punk city cracking peoples skulls open, all the while trying to figure out who's behind the influx in gangs in the city. It's fun to run around the streets cracking civilians skulls open with the baseball bat. The missions are more or less non linear in the method you choose to go about completing them by but the ending is always the same.

The Bad
There is no in game saving, you can only save at the end of each mission, which might not be so bad if the game didn't revolve around running down a street, climbing to the top of a building then jumping over the same street to another building, something where not being able to save before taking a 'fail and die' jump (nearly all jumps are) becomes painfully evident as you tumble to your death and are forced to restart the mission from the very beginning and gets frustratingly repetitive after one or two attempts. The fighting mode isn't the greatest either, you can take out nearly all opponents in one hit with the slide tackle before they can even hit you. If you do manage to start a first fight with someone, look out, the controls are sluggish and it turns into a sort of wrestling game fight scheme as you are locked onto one opponent and shuffle forward, backwards or sideways which all falls apart when more than one opponent is involved. The game gets unbelievably easy once you get either the shotgun or baseball bat, which when coupled with the slide tackle makes you near unstoppable. The missions are all fairly identical and somewhat simple and can get tedious.
The pedestrians wander around the city aimlessly and are all fairly similar in appearance, they do have a fair bit of variety which cannot be said about the gang members or police officers. There are only 3 different gang members but they are almost identical while the police have are all perfect clones. There is some variety in vehicles on the road (taxis, ambulances, vans) however you will often see 4 taxis in a row driving down the streets or a pair of identical vans meeting at intersections.

The Bottom Line
Should really have been named Tomb Raider: Police Brutality, it's fun for a little while but gets incredibly annoying quickly.

Windows · by Evil-Jim (145) · 2002

Tomb Raider, Driver, GTA and the worst story line ever all mixed together.

The Good
The games was quite free roaming and there was lots of little things to get lost with, I enjoyed the way that Darci handles running and driving. The graphics and set pieces are also well though out.

The Bad
The Game has the worst story line ever, it makes Perfect Darks look like Shindlers List. The games gets almost impossibly hard and the fighting is a tad haphazard. This game is very ambitious and extra time in development could have improved it massively.

The Bottom Line
Good to play in Parts but overall a rushed title

Windows · by Michael Joyeux (15) · 2000

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Cancelled Sequels

Development company Mucky Foot had signed a sequel to Urban Chaos with Eidos, but they could not agree on the course of the game and the design document was rejected three times before Mucky Foot gave up. They believe Eidos was never interested in a sequel, but eventually the name was used again for this Rocksteady title, although both titles bear no resemblance.

Gameplay Change

Urban Chaos was originally conceived as a Double Dragon-style game, with the environment-as-weapon flourishes of a Jackie Chan movie, but at the last moment, it was pitched to Eidos as an open-world-combat-driving-everything game.

Sales

As of April 2008, according to the developers, about half a million copies of the game were sold (platforms not specified).

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by SebastianLi.

PS Vita added by GTramp. PSP, PlayStation 3 added by Sciere. PlayStation, Dreamcast added by Grant McLellan.

Additional contributors: Indra was here, tarmo888, Sciere, Alaka.

Game added April 13, 2000. Last modified April 2, 2024.