Have You Played… Urban Chaos?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Urban Chaos [GOG page] was the first title developed and released by Mucky Foot Productions, a team of ex-Bullfrog employees. Its mixture of third-person exploration and sophisticated fisticuffs wasn’t an obvious choice for a studio that had cut its teeth on strategy, management and god games, but Mucky Foot demonstrated previously hidden talents and delivered the first of two classics produced during their short existence.

If a certain big studio were to remake Urban Chaos today, it’d almost certainly feature a map caked in layer upon layer of icons. There’d be icons to show you the location of citizens that you could arrest, citizens that needed your help, locations that contained collectibles, locations that simply existed and that could be located by anyone smart enough to follow the icon. There would probably be badges to collect – you’re a cop; cops like badges – and you’d be able to learn more about the city by climbing skyscrapers or radio towers.

Looking back at Urban Chaos, it does seem like a natural precursor to just about any open world city game you could mention. There are people to (optionally) arrest, people to (optionally) assist and missions with various possible outcomes. While the city hasn’t aged particularly well, and the freedom of the streets isn’t quite as evident, aspects of Urban Chaos are still superior to modern open world games. First of all, it’s a less cluttered experience, with events and encounters seeming to emerge from the background life of the city rather than appearing as points on a checklist. More important still is the combat and movement, which consists of systems to master rather than acting as mindless linking points between one pickup and the next.

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17 Comments

  1. Kits says:

    I really enjoyed the first few levels of this. Played them over and over many times, finding new things for ages.
    I recall it getting very very odd towards the end, and much less fun as a result, though.

  2. int says:

    One of all those a dime a dozen games where you play as a black female cop.

    I remember driving being a cool feature to have in games back then. I always looked out for and enjoyed shooters where you could drive vehicles, such as Redline, Redneck Rampage and Shadow Warrior

  3. rondertaker says:

    yeah this game was amazing. unfortunately it was virtually ignored at release when it was actually ahead of its time.

  4. suibhne says:

    …”a certain big studio”? Pretty much any big studio these days.

    • Aerothorn says:

      Clearly, he means Bethesda.

      • Baines says:

        I figured he meant Ubisoft at first, but there was no mention of climbing towers.

        • AlexClockwork says:

          Yes there is. You are spot on, he described a Ubisoft map point by point.

  5. kwyjibo says:

    I played the demo, but was disappointed that the maps were tiny. A few blocks instead of anything resembling a city. Omikron came out a similar time, and while the maps were also small, they were interconnected, and the world and the story was just so much more interesting.

    Urban Chaos does star a black woman though, which makes it better than True Detective.

  6. Meehrrible says:

    I bought this as a rerelease (Sold Out series, I think). It was fun enough at start, but then got pretty difficult. I’m hoping I am wrong but I don’t remember in-level saves or such being there, and the levels either were or felt pretty long.

    In the end, with the help of a walkthrough I think I got to the final boss level. I don’t remember if I ever got to the boss instead of dying with the minions and platforming.

  7. skyturnedred says:

    I quite liked it back then, but as I recall I got stuck on some mission with a time limit, and after numerous tries just stopped. Time limits are the worst.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      I did also, you had to maneuver around some building and you’d fall off and die a lot and I could never complete it in time.

  8. Pulstar says:

    Didn’t it come out a whole two years before GTA3?

  9. buzzmong says:

    Suprised but happy to see this on here. Great game, quite hard in the middle, but all around good. Definitely a pre-cursor to more open world games, the city was pretty big for the time.
    Haven’t played it for a long time though, might buy the GoG version at some point as my boxed CD version doesn’t work at all.

  10. Eukatheude says:

    Urban Chaos! I remember playing the heck out of a bootlegged copy back on my good ol’ PS1. I don’t remember anything else about it though, except that at some point there were monster/ghosts/supernatural things involved.
    I might as well just pick it up from GOG so I can finally pay for it maybe, lol.
    And yes it did come out before GTA3. That IS impressive.

  11. Booker says:

    Loved this game. It was quite motivating, running around and sliding towards enemies, so they would fall to the ground and then you could arrest them… : P Only the driving sections weren’t good, because the handling was pretty terrible, but everything on foot was awesome!
    I remember how often I would die and then you had to start a mission from the beginning, because the game could only be saved after you had completed the whole level.
    The fact that you would control 2 different characters, who would handle differently was also pretty stellar at the time. The game was truly ahead of its time and deserves to be remembered.

    I actually have this game installed right now… Not making this up. Was very surprised to see it here!

    • buzzmong says:

      You could control three in the end: D’Arcy, Roper and one of the gangster chaps in a tan jacket and cammo pants.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Interesting. I was just wondering lately about games where you play as a police officer.