FPS Urban Chaos: Riot Response is set in a fictional city (think New York-style) reeling under the weight of unrelenting gang warfare. Violence is rife on the streets, and the only people with the balls and bravado to stomp a big boot of authority on the gangs from a very great height is T-Zero, a fledgling outfit attached to the police force, a fledgling outfit that dares to go where daintier cops fear to tread. This is where you come in, strapping on the bullet proof vest of T-Zero member Nick Mason (not the Pink Floyd drummer), a man who is extreme prejudice personified and has the grit and determination to see tactical ops through to their bitter end.
Running over a year's time-line, the game follows Mason's crime-fighting exploits and his rise from little-known law enforcement agent to infamous gang buster. It'll be a bit like going to Cheers really, where everybody knows your name.
Anyway, it certainly doesn't sit on it's fat arse waiting for things to happen, does Urban Chaos: Riot Response. We've only dabbled with the first level mind, but right from the kick off, the screen is brimming with enough action to make even Chuck Norris scarper like a big girl's blouse. Following a real-life TV-style news flash explaining a police HQ is under siege from a gang known as The Burners, the game switches to you bursting out the back of a riot van and leaping into a parking lot area and one merry hell of the siege. Cops cower behind burning cars as gang members in ice hockey masks hurl Molotov cocktails and charge in waving meat cleavers, so what else can you do except whip out a pistol, acquire targets and unleash a hail of bullets?
The weapons felt suitably meaty and blasting away proved enjoyable (so that's that one box ticked), and it wasn't long into our hands-on time before we got a first whiff of the many, many unlocks in the game. Spinning on a dime, aiming down pistol sights and planting a bullet into a gang member's cranium, a message popped up on-screen declaring "Headshot: 1 out of 10". Score 10 out of 10 headshots in a mission and you unlock yourself a bonus. Sadly, we ended up being a bit too crap to reach that magic mark in the first level, but later on, the apprehension of a shotgun-wielding boss character through the use of non-lethal force (via a stun gun) earned us bonus action in a mini-level as soon as the main one had been completed.
Around 80 to 90 unlocks have been stuffed in for replay value and on top of that the game's developer Rocksteady has chosen to reward players happy to embark on a little exploration. Essentially, the game's fairly linear - or so our experience suggests - but taking a few moments to wander around a small part of the first level, we bumped into a cop (not this chap, but some NPCs in the game team-up with Mason on certain occasions to help out; you can issue basic orders to these fellows via a context-sensitive order system and the key NPCs will appear throughout the title) who was kind enough to hand us a double-barrelled shotgun. Cheers, buddy! The shotgun packed some serious punch, sending enemies spinning through the air in full rag-doll glory. Havok physics has been heavily employed in this game, you see, for a touch of added realism.
However, even armed with the shotgun, the early stages of the game - and this was on normal difficulty mode - are by no means a walkover. Which is one of the reasons why, right at the start, you get your law enforcement hands on a Chaos's USP, the riot shield. More than a defence gimmick - we're assured - Eidos has reliably informed us that the riot shield is a key component of Urban Chaos, with much of the gameplay being built around its presence. While yoru natural instinct is to duck behind a car say to avoid incoming enemy projectiles, that cover is extremely limited. You have to unlearn what you have learned, if you like, and get accustomed to hitting a button to raise the shield for protection. In addition, Eidos assures us that enemy AI is such that it's clever enough to try and outflank you and move around behind your position, meaning having portable cover is vital to your survival. Well, that's the idea anyway.