It's a riot!
There are certain events that can really screw over a game while it's being developed, most of which circle around the developer's financial situation. The developer going bankrupt, getting bought out or running out of cash and/or time can all spell disaster for a game, causing it to fail before it's even released.
For those reasons, Urban Chaos: Riot Response can be classified as a true miracle. Having gone through two developers and three names, one would expect the game to be nothing more than a painted beermat. But, instead, we have the first ever "tactical splatterfest" game, and boy is it a spectacular example of such.
Urban Chaos puts you in the shoes of Nick Mason, an ex-marine turned hard-core cop whose been recruited into the mayor's new T-Zero unit, an elite group of cops charged with ridding the city of gang violence by any means necessary. T-Zero is basically a bunch of heavily armed SWAT members with trigger fingers so itchy you'd think they wore gloves made of poison ivy and lined with itching powder.
Don't worry about not having a trigger to scratch that itch. As a member of T-Zero, you're given a standard pistol to start dispensing some lead-based justice. You're also given a stun gun in order to bring some of the law breakers in. You are also given a large riot shield. By bringing in some of the gang leaders, you can unlock Emergency situations where you are given some 'experimental' weaponry. Complete the situation, and you get to keep it. Then again, you could just grab a gun off of a wasted gang member and dispense some poetic justice. In addition, completing some of the special objectives in each level, including the Emergency objectives, you can earn two kinds of grenades, and some upgrades to your other weapons.
This is where the tactical part of the game comes in. The riot shield you're given is invincible, but only guards from attacks that come from straight ahead. In addition, the only weapons you can use while you have your shield up are your thrown weapons, like the grenades and molotovs. Plus, some enemies will knock away your shield when they get too close. However, before they knock it away, you can knock your shield into them to stagger them long enough to put the shield away and give them a close encounter of the smoking barrel kind. Or, alternatively, you could use the shield to approach an enemy position in order to shove your stun gun into their neck and bring them in alive.
So you can earn some medals. Every level has 4 medals in it for all but the easiest difficulty setting. These medals are earnt in the same way each level, although sometimes they do increase the number of required events in order to get the medal. Medals are earnt by getting the required number of headshots, taking down a certain number of gang members non-lethally, finding the required number of 'evidence' (specially colored gang masks) or completing the level without using a checkpoint. The Emergency situations do not have checkpoints, so just finishing it will grant you this medal. It is by earning these medals that you unlock the grenades, weapon upgrades and so forth. One neat feature is that if you earn a medal on a higher difficulty, the game awards it to you for the difficulty you played on, plus for any difficulty below that one where you could earn medals.
While you're getting all those shiny medals, you'll notice the little touches that really make the game that much more enjoyable. Such as how sometimes taking down an enemy will trigger a small slo-mo sequence of their corpse/unconscious body slumping to the ground, sometimes without head. Or how if you use your stun gun on a guy for too long he'll burst into flame and the words 'Charcoaled!' or 'Barbequed!' will appear on the screen. Or how you can see the blood on your shield after you smash a guy's head in with it. Or how cleavers that are thrown at you will stick to your shield. Or how you can see bulletholes in your shield from when they're created to when you finish the level. Or how you can set guys on fire by shooting the molotov they're holding. Or how Mason will actually use his hands to climb ladders, instead of walking into them and going up like how other FPS characters do. The list is endless.
Although, there are some blemishes in this work of art. For one, the game doesn't really have a memorable final encounter. The ending doesn't really feel like an ending, it just feels like another level. Although, that being said, the last enemy does die in a rather brutal fashion. Also, there isn't any split-screen multiplayer option, which would really have been a grand addition, although there is the ability to play online or via LAN.
But these minor flaws do nothing to this absolute beauty of a game. What's more, the mere existence of Urban Chaos: Riot Response raises the bar for the entire gaming world. For, if a game this awesome can come from a troubled past like this one has, then there's really no justification for anyone else to blame their crappy games on their pasts.