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EMP rifles are weapons to deal against electronics, these weapons can fire plasma ball like projectiles or beams, these weapons unlike most weapons in games are unable to damage organic creatures, most of these weapons have various proprieties like shooting through walls, having splash damage and such things.
In terms of effects some EMP rifles only disables their targets by shutting them down while others destroys them. Some of them can also have a blind flash when they launches an EMP ball.
System shock 2
In system shock 2
the EMP rifle is very similar to the Apollo H-4 laser pistol
it has an internal energy supply and is dependent of the same upgrades except it does more damage against mechs but no damage against fleshies, this weapon requires also a higher skill to be used than the laser pistol. This weapon is powerful against mechs and security devices and it destroys them with a few shots.