PS2 REVIEW: BEAT DOWN: FISTS OF VENGEANCE

Capcom's Beat Down has about as much finesse as a curb-stomping. It's brash, violent and might make some gamers outright blanche.

Continuing in the once hallowed tradition of the beat-em-up genre, Beat Down will appeal to those who wonder why Final Fight & Double Dragon just aren't popular these days. Ironically or at least conveniently, Beat Down provides the answer to that rhetorical question. No matter how much makeup you throw on an aging actress, the wrinkles will manage to slice through the facade, revealing the cracked foundation lying beneath the surface. In an attempt to appeal to todays generation by tossing in unecessary bells and whistles that aren't welcome in the genre, Beat Down comes off as a convoluted mish mash of concepts wrapped in an angry blanket of life-siphoning load times. And that my friends, is the long view.

One aspect the Xbox generation will enjoy thoroughly is the mind-numbing violence that permeates almost every playing moment. Beat Down is one of the more violent offerings I've played in recent memory. As one of five available characters, you'll make your way through the mean streets, stopping every step of the way to converse with strangers and shady acquaintances. It's these conversations that become a natural springboard for violence which are instigated by an unwelcome RPG-esque "choose your response" mechanic which slows the pace of the game to a crawl and constantly pulls you out of the reality of the game. Since this is the way Beat Down advances the plot, you won't be able to bypass these interludes to destruction - as I like to call them. Once the decision is made to interrogate, rob, recruit or fight- and let's face it, that's what you're playing for in the first place - then the violence explodes and faces and bodies are bloodied beyond recognition. As you progress you'll also be faced with the distribution of upgradeable power and techniques which seems to be coming standard in action games these days.

Beat Down: FOV is a muddled affair, but it has its strengths. Although the fighting engine is weak Capcom keeps it real by allowing only 4 button play (kick, punch...it's all in the mind....sorry, Parappa flashback...kick, punch, block and special). Each character has different varieties of moves channeled from this configuration depending on whether you're hitting high or low. You can also learn new moves from the local barkeep who will also clue you in on some extra-curricular quests from time to time. If you can get past the repetition when it comes to initiating contact with the NPC's, you'll find that the fighting isn't all that bad, just extremely watered down. As you progress you will be able to recruit members to your "gang" and at times you'll find yourself embroiled in a battle royal with you battling alongside your partners. Your CPU-controlled brawling buddies actually handle themselves very well in a fight which means you can attend to the guy(s) in the corner and not have to worry about covering a teammates back. Another highlight is the ability to play through the game with 5 different characters all with different moves and storylines. At the very least you have to give Capcom points for replay value.

In terms of visual glitz and pizazz Beat Down looks very good. The character models are finely detailed and players who get off on such things will delight in the knowledge that realtime damage effects like blood and other repercussions of fighting are visible and remain that way until you regain some health - by drinking alcohol. There's a public service announcement for you right there.

While I can't wholeheartedly recommend this game there is definitely an audience out there that will get off on the violence and ultra profanity; that's a given. Capcom did the right thing by allowing 2 player battles and extending the replay value with 5 characters but some gamers will have had enough of the load times and mind-numbing decisions by the end of the first story. Rent if you're curious.

Preview By Chris

Capcom is currently working on a new "Old School Beat-Em-Up" Style of game. The game will have a mix of the old style that these games had to offer while adding some new up to date features. Of course the first thing you will notice from the screen shots is the game is in 3-D.

Also Capcom is making the characters larger and the storyline will be up to today's standards. We all have seen the craze of taking the "Old School" games and updating them and re-releasing them. At times it works and at times the final product just sucks! (Anyone remember the Contra games that were recently release?) In any case, the story sounds interesting and while the details are limited, read on to see where Capcom is taking this new beat-em-up game and the features we do know so far.

Gamers will get to choose from 5 characters who were set-up to look "bad" in a family cartel. Hellbent on clearing their names as well as revenge, they go out looking for those who set them up. Of course just running around and talking to people would be boring so you will fight for info, money and other useful items as the story unfolds. Players will also try and find others to join up with them to go head to head against the Zanetti cartel - the main cartel that rules over the setting of Las Sombras, and the people responsible for setting up the 5 main characters. Or was it someone else other than Zanetti? (Cue in the sudden dramatic music here). It sounds like you will need to use your brains and brawn in this one. The game will also be arriving on the PS2 and both versions will be released sometime in the fall. Take a look at the screen shots and stay tuned for more info as soon as we can get it.

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System: X (shown), PS2
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.5