Review by Lisanne

"I have lost the will to live."

I like to think of myself as a nice person. The kind of girl who holds doors open for old ladies and who feeds the birds at the park. Even better, I'm sane to boot. So imagine how cringe-worthy this title must truly be to have incited me to do the following, barely an hour ago. Please note: this is a true story. Those of you with a nervous disposition may wish to refrain from reading this.

Seated in front of the television, controller in hand, I could feel myself changing. My head was pounding; my heart racing. I lowered my head, but held my gaze fixed upon the same spot as it had been for close to two hours - the blocky looking man running in circles around the small screen. ''Just turn around and hit him!!'' I cried, exasperated; but to no avail. The blocky looking man was deaf to my pleas and as he turned to run another lap around the man who was shooting him, my resolve began to crumble. Horrified, I looked away from the screen, and that is when I noticed my reflection. My clothes hung in shreds about my person. My skin was now green, and bulging over my huge muscles. I had gained several feet in height. Roaring with pure, unadulterated anguish, I threw the controller at the television and leapt out of the window.

Events may have been altered slightly in order to provide dramatic effect.

Yes, Fighting Force 2 genuinely is that frustrating. Why? Well, pretty much every aspect of the game is fundamentally flawed at the most basic level. The controls are appalling, the main character has no personality at all, the graphics appear distinctly amateur and the sound is virtually non-existent. It is a rather short game, and yet I do not know a single person who has made it all the way to the end. I know that the game is short only through hearsay.

I shall commence at the most logical of places: the beginning. The game opens with a short FMV showing a man jumping off a train. Nothing else - just a man jumping off a train. That's the entire cutscene. Your mission objective: to eliminate every other living being in the level and to smash stuff. The first thing that you'll notice is exactly how badly animated your character (his name is Hank, by the way) really is. This takes polygons to a completely new level - Hank is the blockiest looking character I have seen in a game. The Dreamcast is a 128 bit machine - it can handle much better graphics than this, but it's as though the developers made no effort here whatsoever.

Once you have gotten over the excessively bad character animation, take some time to look at your surroundings. The lighting effects are completely random. There are no obvious light sources shown in the levels - not even in the office areas of the building you start the game in. Instead, lighting comes from any and all angles with total variance between all the levels. Perhaps worst of all, occasionally Hank walks through objects - unforgivable.

The level of control given to you here is minimal. Controls are virtually completely unresponsive and again, rather random. Simple movement is the worst control in this game. The analog stick for some reason doesn't seem to work too well here, despite it being the designated method of movement. To put it simply, using the analog stick to move Hank around is like moving a tank. Coincidentally, ''Hank'' and ''tank'' rhyme - could this be an in-joke perhaps?

Hank the Tank

Commence from the stationary standing position. Now, push the analog stick forward. Gradually, Hank will begin to move... Keep pushing forward until he builds enough speed - at this point, he will appear to be jogging in slow motion. Now, take a deep breath and attempt to steer. Remember that you will need to allow extra room for steering, as Hank's turning circle is rather wide. Think ''wheelbarrow''. Keep moving, and pray that you're standing still when you get attacked, as otherwise you will find it impossible to stop in time to fight back, and this will inevitably lead to lying on your back on the floor and emitting a golden glow. No-one knows what this means, but it's generally considered to be A Bad Thing.

The poor controls really have a very negative impact on game play. You cannot attack and move at the same time, so if you are fighting two bad guys at once, you'll have problems. Aiming your weapon is flawed too - one hit is enough to knock your aim off, and it takes time to aim properly. Movement is really the worst offender though, as it is virtually impossible to dodge an attack. After a couple of hours of trying to force him to actually move unsuccessfully, personally I found myself laughing manically every time Hank was hit, and even occasionally engineered ways of giving him a grisly end. It's like therapy.

Sound is pretty much non-existent. There are a handful of sound effects, but they are all very quiet. I didn't hear any music at all. This is good - it means that you can hear your own expletives echoing around the room to a more satisfying extent. The sound effects are irritating though - the same generic explosion sounds repeated continuously in a loop, along with a grunt or two from Hank himself.

So, what's the actual aim then? Well, it seems to be to wander around large, badly lit areas, running laps around bad guys and smashing anything that glows. And... that's it. The game takes the form of a series of missions, all of which include the standard ''eliminate all resistance'' - kill everything that moves. There's no puzzle solving at all. Occasionally you'll find doors that won't open, but if you smash the nearest box, you'll get a key for the door. The levels are rather linear too, so there is no need to find your way through a maze or anything remotely resembling one. Just go through a series of doors and kill everyone on the way through, and that's it. Sounds dull? It really is. Actually, it's patronizingly simple, when you consider that on the back of the box you are promised not only action and exploration, but puzzles too. None of these factors are included. You just punch as much as the controller allows you to, pray the camera doesn't decide to go AWOL and follow the path.

So, is it worth it? Two words spring to mind - ''hell'' and ''no''. I bought this game because it was cheap, but as my mother always says, ''you get what you pay for''. In this case, I was ripped off. Quite frankly, having suffered through entirely too much of this travesty of a piece of software, you'd have to pay me a hefty sum of cold, hard cash to even spit in the general direction of this worthless game again.

~FIN~


Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 04/22/03, Updated 04/22/03


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