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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 10/10/05 ] = Fists Of Vengeance

When me and my friends were younger, we played Final Fight like it was going out of style (little did we know it eventually would). We'd come up with ideas and wonder things like, "wouldn't it be awesome if you could go in that door in the background to buy stuff," or "down the other street to fight the guys in the background?" Likewise, we would sometimes think, "what if we could get the bad guys on our side?" and talk about what it would be like to play as the enemy. We even wished that weapons and items could be kept longer and stockpiled. Back then, we thought such things were impossible, so our minds had allowed the creative scenarios to vanish into thin air. Fast-forward to 2005, and Capcom has made these "what if?" scenarios a reality with their side-scrolling fighter BeatDown.







The horrible review of BeatDown in the latest EGM lit my fuse. They shit on the game and gave it "Shame of the Month" because they thought it was going to be "Grand Theft Brawler," even though the game was never supposed to be a GTA. Thank goodness wasn't a GTA clone, or else it would have sucked balls. Sure, Capcom may have published GTA titles in Japan (I don't know whose mistake that was), but BeatDown is nothing like GTA. Sure, you beat the shit out of countless thugs, assholes, and other defectives, but it's not like GTA where you're beating old ladies and innocent people to death. In BD, bystanders seem innocent until fights erupt, then after you kick their asses you find that they carry knives and wads of cash. It's also not a hodge podge of hollow, boring shit like GTA. Capcom added some things to change it up (recruiting enemies, interrogation, and character customization) but BD is still of the side-scrolling fighter formula; you walk the streets attacking with combos, screen-clearing special moves, and throws while collecting weapons and items from fallen enemies (and broken crates) along the way.

Another cool thing about BD is that both enemies and the player can be thrown off bridges, from the sidewalk into busy streets, and even into blazing subway trains! I was careless once and got my shit thrown right over a goddamn railing and onto a busy street. Similar to Capcom side-scrolling fighters like Final Fight, The Punisher, and Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, BeatDown is saturated with blood and the bidding is carried out with a plethora of rotten weapons that include classics like the knife, katana sword, board, and pipe, in addition to over-the-top weapons like I-beams, logs, and barrels! Blood pours when blades connect, and the crimson trails that follow remain even after the fight is over. Some hits are so hard that weapons even break into pieces! The finishing moves in BD are also pretty brutal, and look so rotten that even watching them is painful.



One of the best things BeatDown has going for it is its crazy multi-player battles. While not quite as nuts as Alien VS Predator, in BD the screen can erupt with up to 10 - 12 guys all beating each other's asses at the same time. BeatDown is multi-player, but with CPU-controlled allies that make the battles feel like you're fighting online alongside two other players from miles away. It's good for when your friends are "too tired" or "busy" to play games, but Capcom should have allowed optional player control (via multitap) for the other two characters so that the game could be played with one or two other people. The game also has a 2-Player head-to-head mode where players can pit their saved crews against each other in a team fight to the death (another thing I don't think I've ever seen in any other title in the genre), which is cool, but it would have been absolutely killer if Capcom had made a group option for 6-player chaos. Unlike the seamless fighting in other Capcom titles in the same genre, though, the big all-out brawls in BD don't happen enough, and ultimately leave you begging for more when they do. Don't get me wrong, the mix of group fights and mid-boss-like single confrontations are an interesting approach, but the bloody group fights are where it's at.

While the game is similar in many ways to traditional side-scrolling fighters like Final Fight, there are plenty of new things that distinguish this one from the others; the most unique being the ability to recruit the enemy. Yes, when they're struggling to get up you can actually grab them, ring their neck, and force them to join you. It's great. I've played a lot of side-scrolling fighters, and I've never seen a feature like this in any of them; it is completely unique and innovative. The possibilities in BD are endless because you can not only recruit enemies to your side, but use them, as well. Yes, from filthy bikers to hot chicks, there are over 100 different, playable characters, each with their own unique moves and attributes. That also means that these unique attributes come into play when fighting against each of them, and contrary to what EGM says, the AI is surprisingly smart and many fights are not easily won. And since each thug, asshole, and infidel you fight is different and unique, if you decide to completely ruin their shit they never return! Customization is another unique aspect of BD that no other game in the genre can really even compete with. You can completely customize your character's clothing, belt, shoes, hairstyle, and even add accessories like chains, rings, and piercings (just to name a few). Why is the customization in BD so great? Because there are virtually no limits in designing your fighter(s), and there are a ton of different things to choose from (and unlock). It's awesome; I designed one of my characters (Raven) to look like me, and another (Gina) to look like my beautiful girlfriend, and the resemblances are uncanny! My characters rock. And to go with it, you can even level up your custom characters and build them the way you want throughout the game. Doesn't sound as cheap as EGM made it out to be now, does it? So then why did "gamer" magazines and sites like EGM shit on it? Usually, they love innovation, don't they? If it were an EA, Squeenix, Bungie, or BioWare game, they would have liked it. When Capcom releases a title that doesn't deviate far from the norm of its genre, "unbiased" sites like EGM claim it's "boring" or "uninspired," but even if the title deviates from the norm of its genre, they're still not happy. Yet, they continue to call themselves "non-biased?" In its entirety, BD is an innovative game with unique attributes that deserves a lot more credit than it has been given.

EGM was also probably pissed because the graphics in BD are leaps and bounds better than any GTA game (look mom, no block-hands!). In fact, every single aspect of BD's visuals look better than the blocky, generic shit you see in the GTA games; the 3-D environments are rendered nicely, the characters are well-detailed and animated, the lighting is consistent, and there are some cool effects during battles. My favorites are the glimmering brass knuckle trails that follow swings, and when enemies fly across the screen in slow motion after a power hit connects. Unlike the (3-D) GTA games, BD actually looks like a PS2 game, not a PS game. Then, EGM criticizes BD for being "open yet limited" compared to GTA, where you can "go wherever you want," but what good are the environments (in GTA) if they look like shit? They say they hate the "running around for the hell of it," but then they want more "freedom?" Wouldn't that mean even more "running around for the hell of it?" Sure, the "freedom" in BD is limited, but it compliments the gameplay, and while there is some locale backtracking, the game's 3-D environments are polished. I agree that the loading time between areas could have been improved; that is, with HDD support (yes, there are PS2 owners out there who have it). Why Capcom couldn't put optional HDD support in BeatDown (or Onimusha - Blade Warriors, for that matter) is beyond me. Moving on, the overused "poor camera" excuse also reared it's ugly head, which I thought was bullshit (since the player has complete control of the camera). They must really suck at the game if they can't even control the camera and position it to their liking. Lastly, the localization in BD is almost spot-on; save for Raven's unfitting thick Irish accent and Gina's strange win quotes, the voice-overs are pretty good (especially Jason G and the warden), and the things the characters say are hilarious; there's one part where some jerk at a gas station tells you, "get off my turf," and your character shoots back with, "that's my line, asshole" and proceeds to kick his ass. The localization in BD is humorous and entertaining.

All in all, BeatDown isn't a perfect game, but it doesn't deserve the terrible ratings it got. Don't pass judgment on this game because some fucking bastards at EGM say it's a bad game; play it for yourself. There haven't been that many side-scrolling fighters since the CPSII era, and BeatDown is a sight for sore eyes that does a good job of reviving a genre that many consider "dead." While it's not as polished as Final Fight - Streetwise will be when it comes out (believe me), what BD does do it does well. With its unique approach to the genre, BeatDown has potential to introduce the side-scrolling fighting genre to players who didn't grow up during "the Golden Age" of video games.