Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance PlayStation 2
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance, an introduction.
Attempts to take a fighting game and make it into something more have met with mixed results over the years. This year we've already seen the disappointing Spikeout: Battle Street on the Xbox but here we have another game that tries to wrap up the combat in a game with a greater purpose, Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance.
What's the game about?
The game is set in Las Sombras and you'll play as one of a party of five mobsters who are employed by the all powerful Zanetti. After learning about a rival gang's drug deal, Zanetti dispatches you and your four associates to break up the drug deal that should be in progress. On arrival you find that the rival gang members who should have been involved in the deal are all dead and that you have walked into a trap. You've been framed for the murder of the cartel and although you've managed to escape, from now on you're going to be a hunted person by Zanetti and his cartel, the police and rival gang members who are intent on finishing you off. Get ready for plenty of street fights as you set about finding out what has happened and plotting your revenge.
What's good about the game?
It's always good to see a game that allows you to choose who to play as. Beat Down gives you a choice of five characters to play as. Each character has their own attributes, fighting style, life rating, cash you start the game with, items and specialty combo moves. From the moment of betrayal that we've described in the above paragraph, each of the five characters will have their own story as they each went their separate ways. The difference between the character's stories may not be that great (you'll still be doing the same things to move the plot along for the most part) it's a nice touch to give you the choice of who to play as and I daresay it's a incentive to a lot of gamers to replay the game with a different character on completion. The ending of the game will vary with the character you've played the game with, which is another nice touch.
Throughout the game you'll have to acquire allies and information as well as build enough support to be able to exact your revenge. Of course support and revenge comes at a price and you'll have to undertake missions in order to earn the sums of money you require. Your characters earn experience from battles and have several attributes (stamina, attack and technique) that can be improved. In certain fights you'll have a pride gauge appear. You can diminish an opponent's pride gauge by taunting them which is a novel twist. In these fights you also get the option to obtain information from your enemy when you are in control of the battle.
What's not so good about the game?
Whilst Beat Down could have been something special the whole thing feels disjointed and quite messy. Whilst you can go to great lengths to make sure your character isn't recognised, by changing their clothes for instance, you still end up fighting more often than not, which makes the process of attempting to make yourself unrecognisable rather pointless. The combat itself feels rather basic. You can punch, kick, block and grab as well as perform a variety of combos and use any weapons that you come across. However, the combat becomes very repetitive and lacks that special quality that keeps you coming back for more. You can take part in battles where other characters will help you but even these fights don't feel anywhere near as good as they should. The load times in Beat Down are quite long and they break up the flow of the game quite considerably. Camera angles can be troublesome at times although thankfully they never cause any major problems. The game is mainly a single player game but there are a couple of versus modes thrown in to allow you to battle a friend. However this is largely an uninteresting addition (because the fights themselves are generally uninteresting) that few will play repeatedly. Whilst the use of profanity is probably within the context of the game it's a bit much at times and do generic enemies really need to be called 'Tosser?'
How does it look?
Beat Down disappointingly looks unimpressive. The character models are OK but their animations could definitely have been better. The cutscenes use the in-game graphics and whilst this can actually be a good thing it shows the character models up close which makes you realise that they are not really detailed enough when seen up close. The various environments in the game all look dull and are fairly low on graphical quality. On the plus side the game supports 60Hz mode and maintains a smooth frame rate throughout. It's also a nice touch that you can see the characters actually bruise if they take too many hits.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Subtitles are included in Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance and are enabled by default. The cutscenes are subtitled and although the subtitles are not colour-coded deaf gamers shouldn't have any problems with them. In-game conversations are mostly text only and this text can be read at your own pace as a button press is required to further the conversation. Tutorial messages are shown in text. Enemies have their own health bars so you can see how well you're doing against them. Items that you can pick up are highlighted which makes them easier to spot. Icons in the top left of the screen inform you of how easily recognised you are by the police and rival gangs.
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance is definitely an acquired taste. In all honesty we found the game very repetitive and despite the idea of the game being a sound one in theory, in practice it doesn't work out that way. Still taking a purely objective view on the game I can see some gamers taking a shine to it and at least you're safe in the knowledge that there aren't any real problems for deaf gamers with Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance.
Overall Game Rating: 5.1/10
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Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance is one of those games you just know should have been a lot better than it turned out to be. It becomes repetitive far too quickly and just seems to lack that special quality that keeps you coming back for more.