the hell is going on? In a bizarre moment of
synchronicity, Sega, Namco and Capcom decided
that the beat-em-up genre was ready to be reinstated
into pop culture, 15 years after its original
heyday. Sega's Spike Out: Battle Street was
the first to appear and critics beat it over
the head with a large chicken leg which magically
manifested itself on the street, Capcom stepped
up with Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance which
conveniently could be used to destroy the DVD
the game shipped on and now Namco throws tough
guy protagonist Brad Hawk into line of fire
in Urban Reign. Not to be outdone, Capcom is
actually working on another beat-em-up
title which is a follow up to their once popular
Final Fight series.
puzzling aspect to this series of missteps from
the aforementioned game publishers is that they
are responsible for the best of the best in
the fighting game genre (please note that Fighting
and Beat-Em-Up are different genres). Sega brought
us Virtua Fighter, one of the deepest, most
comprehensive fighting games ever created. Capcom
created the genre with their insanely popular
Street Fighter series which is still going strong
and Namco's Tekken and Soul Calibur franchises
have been exciting fighting fans for years now.
So how is it that each of them could push out
these lackluster beat-em-up titles which are
at the very least, semi-related to the blockbusters
they've built their empires with? That's a rhetorical
question by the way. No need to answer.
Hawk, another caucasian hero with a Hollywood
power name so as to not reveal any sort of ethnicity
- why aren't videogame heroes ever named "Myron
Octroworch" or "Saul Lowenstein"?
- is Urban Reign's tough guy de jour who is
working for Shun Ying Lee, a black woman who
needs her rivals taken out of business. Kidding.
She's not black. Can you guess what nationality
she is? I'll give you 6 billion guesses. So
your job is to punch, kick and combo everyone
that moves. Unlike the semi-roaming of Beat
Down: FoV, Urban Reign ignores the useless busy
work of exploring the mean streets and tosses
you directly into battle after battle in pre-set
locations. Each area has its own objective,
but they all end usually with the same result
- kicking someone's ass. Or at least trying
is an art form in the videogame world. There
are so many ways to asskick effectively in games
ranging from Data East's Karate Champ to Namco's
Soul Calibur III, that it's annoying when you
come face to face with a game that is supposed
to be about you asskicking, but in turn it's
your ass getting kicked. Constantly. Urban Reign
will raise your frustration level while simultaneously
lowering your self-esteem. Brad Hawk is outnumbered
and outfought every step of the way. I guess
you could say that because of it, Urban Reign
is one of the most realistic fighting games
ever created, because if you get into a real
fight with 4 guys in a back alley, they aren't
going to take turns; they'll jump on top of
you and beat you into a heaping pile of bones,
teeth and blood. Unfortunately that doesn't
make for an enjoyable videogame where the player
usually prefers to be the victor rather than
not because of the lack of moves that fighting
isn't effective. Namco sandwiched a lot of cool,
well animated attacks into Urban Reign. The
biggest problem is breathing room. You'll never
be given enough breathing space to execute these
devastating combos which the game incessantly
hints is the reason you're having to restart
the same level over and over ad nauseum. You'll
also rue the day airjuggling was invented. You'll
spent more time in the air than Casper the Ghost.
When playing against a real opponent you'll
find a slightly more rewarding gameplay experience,
especially if the Player 2 you're playing with
isn't very good. At least you'll be spared the
relentless CPU AI cheapness. The 4 player multi-tap
mode simply pits you and three friends against
each other in a battle royal. Again, here you'll
have some opportunities to try out those wicked
combos you won't be able to manage during a
real game. With over 60 characters to select
from, you'll be spoiled for choice.
Urban Reign could have been so much more in
terms of playability and enjoyment, Namco sure
knows its way around the PS2 architecture. Urban
Reign packs a decent visual one-two punch and
will probably fool one into thinking it's worthy
of a go-around based on graphics and animation
alone. Equally as impressive are the sound effects
of the various blows and smashes, which lend
the game some aural dynamics that as mentioned,
aren't quite matched by the gameplay.
we previwed below, Tekken fans will recognize
unlockable characters like Paul Phoenix and
Marshall Law who can't save this one no matter
how hard they try. We were really hoping that
the third time was the charm for the 2005 resurrection
of the Beat-Em-Up genre, but so far it's 3 and
0. The only thing Urban Reign will provide you
with is a realistic foreshadowing of what would
actually happen to you if you ever ran into
a few angry dudes in a dark alley late one night.
If that sounds like fun by all means go for
the hell is going on? I'll tell you what's going
on: You suck at videogames! Namco's Urban Reign
is the deepest Beat-Em-Up ever created and I
defy anyone to prove me wrong. I've read the
naysayers reviews, including my next door neighbor
to the left and believe you me, I thought actually
being able to play games was a pre-requisite
for becoming a game journalist. Apparently not.
Urban Reign is not a walk in the park by any
stretch of the imagination but for every action
there is a reaction and those who are skilled
enough in the art of videogames will utilize
everything Namco provided to best the ingame
I say "deep" I mean it. You could
never accuse games classic bmups (beat-em-ups)
like Double Dragon, Final Fight and Streets
of Rage of being anything but skindeep in terms
of fighting execution, but Namco changes the
playing field in Urban Reign. Each character
has 18 standard attacks which consists of 4
frontal, 4 back-turned, 4 running attacks, 4
specials, 1 down attack and a multi-enemy special.
There are mutliple grapples available, various
taunts, stuns, lots of juggle attacks, wall
runs, environmental and weapon attacks, throws,
counters and evades. Doesn't sound like Namco
skimped on anything. Of course, it's how well
your candy ass actually performs all of those
moves that will make or break the game for you.
not suggesting Urban Reign is without flaws.
It suffers from a shallow story which is technically
there simply to provide a reason for facing
as many opponents as you do. Fights range from
single opponent affairs to melees with up to
5 enemies onscreen to boss battles. Some battles
will be relatively short and sweet while others
will require mastery of every attack and counter
you can muster just to stay afloat. It's true
that the game doesn't offer endless freedom
to roam and engage others in battle like the
recently released Beat Down, and in that sense
some gamers may find URs instant fighting approach
a little too direct for their tastes.
camera doesn't tend to make keeping your head
above water any easier and this is definitely
Urban Reign's biggest flaw but it's not like
screwy cameras aren't part of the industry.
Anyone remember Ninja Gaiden's flawed camera?
You deal with it. Don't give up.
all of the moves can be a daunting task and
one that you'll need to accomplish for you to
get very far. I've read the reports of the unfair
air-juggling and that's just such garbage. There
are many ways to counteract an air juggle in
Urban Reign...unless you're a moron. Then I
can see it being a total problem. For those
that strive to be a better fighter by using
all of the means provided by Namco, you will
get off on the challenge. Once I got into the
game and found my skills improving, I didn't
shudder when I was placed into a situation having
to beat on an area full of guys - it was just
an opportunity to hone my skills! And I honed
while I owned!
you reach level 30, you'll unlock Challenge
Mode which acts the games co-op feature. If
you don't have a friend to pick up controller
2, Namco conveniently allows you to set a CPU
controlled partner (with an adjustable level).
You won't be able to play through the game as
is with another player, but Challenge Mode is
a fun way to pass the time and it's just pretty
much one battle after another. The multitap
4 player feature didn't interest me and so I
have to admit that I didn't play it too much,
but I could see a room full of buddies getting
into this very easily.
my friend next door did manage to get right
is that Namco did manage to serve up some hot
graphics and fighting animation and yeah, the
sound effects and music is pretty great too.
Cranked through the right sound system and you
can hear the beatings come to life. I'm such
a freakin' degenerate.
you beat Urban Reign the first time you'll be
able to play through the game in Free Mode with
any characters you've unlocked. With over 60
different characters to choose from, you might
find the game loses it's appeal before you've
tried 20% of the characters. Multi-player mode
is where you'll get the most use out of the
collection of unlocked characters.
Reign is brutal when it comes to shredding your
self esteem. This much could be true for those
with no skills. But I admire Namco for putting
some brains into the heads of my opponents.
People are crying because they game is too hard
and too "cheap". Deal with it! If
it wasn't hard, they'd be crying that the opponents
don't offer any resistance. It's ridiculous.
These crappy gamers have an excuse for everything.
It's the camera. It's the cheap AI. It's the
controls. No, it's the fact that you should
be slinging burgers somewhere instead of pretending
your a gamer. If you can't fly a plane, don't
be a pilot! It's a simple philosophy.
Reign will probably get low scores from the
lemmings in this business who see one popular
website run down a game because the dude or
the chick can't play and they won't want to
seem like they don't know what they're talking
about. Happens all the time and it makes me
sick. Urban Reign isn't for casual gamers; it's
for the hardcore who wanted Tecmo to make Ninja
Gaiden freakin' HARDER! If you know what I'm
talking about, this ones for you.
Dan I love you like a bro man, don't take these