Review by Kaijima
"A subtly improved follow up that is sure to be underrated..."
Bloody Roar 2: The New Breed turns out to be not a sequel as much as Bloody Roar 1: Take 2. And that works for me; it works quite well, in fact.
Ranking high among the almost too-numerous Playstation fighting games, BR2 features martial arts action where the fighters are Zooanthropes - able to transform physically into anthropomorphic forms that have characteristics of animals. Four returning characters from the original, and seven new make up the cast. Technically, one of the new -Uriko- was a boss from Bloody Roar; however, she has been totally redesigned and bears no resemblance to her original incarnation. Hudson chose to wisely rework *everything* from BR1 to BR2, but keep it true to it's roots; just refined. All new graphics, character models, music. A much more apealing asthetic design and theme, and a better story (compared at least to BR1's stilted, forced-even-for-a-fighter story).
-- Graphics -- 90%
Ooooo, it's pretty. Real pretty actually. BR2 runs in the Playstation's high res mode, the same one as Tekken 3, it appears. However, unlike Tekken 3 or the super high res Dead or Alive, BR2 has full polygon backgrounds, that actually affect the fighting due to the pressence of a walled-in ring. A *lot* of totally new special effects have been created for the game, mainly in the area of hit-explosions and chi-power effects from the fighters' attacks. The overall look of the fighting tries to replicate a 2D, hand-drawn anime flourish, native to Capcom and SNK games, in 3D... and it actually does it, better than any 3D fighter I've seen before, even Capcom's own Rival Schools.
The character designs themselves are *excellent*. This is one of the most-improved areas in BR2. The first game suffered from some generic characters with little personality amidst a few cool folks (Long). BR2 does it right, with the utmost attention being payed to every character. From body language to truly unique fighting styles and signature moves, every character in BR2 is a winner and highly appealing. The character models themselves are built of a large number of polygons, and flow together *seamlessly*, with perfect joints and high energy and expressive animation, and super high res textures, making the best looking polygon characters on the Playstation, and probably in *any* game, home or arcade, with the exception of games on the Sega Dreamcast/Naomi arcade games.
Also, the cheesy, cheap rendered cut scenes and endings from the first game are gone, replaced with high-res, beautiful hand-drawn artwork to rival the finest from Capcom and SNK. What rendering there is though, is much improved and more stylized.
And that brings us to the worst part of the game: it seems all attention was lavished on the characters and fighting f/x - it's a fighting game, those things _should_ come first. But the background stages are, in a word, bland. They *do* fit in with the storyline, representing specific locals, and that is an improvment over the generic locals of too many fighting game stages. However, their actual design and look, while high res and clean, is horribly banal and lifeless. They are just plain boring to look at. Still, the stages do their job of fitting the storyline, and this is one game where all your attention *will* be focused upon the spectacular characters and fighting action.
-- Music and Sound -- 70%
The sound effects are solid and do the job. The best effects are the vocals for the fighters when they are in their transformed anthro states. While Yugo may have generic but nice growling/wolfy sounds, many characters have highly creative vocals, such as Uriko (who's anthro form is a hyper bouncy cat-like critter).
The music is just slightly better than the original. Arranged and Original versions are available, and for once, Arranged is a totally new set of tunes, not just remixes of the arcade version music. Original is your basic, somewhat generic Japanese videogame technopop. Arranged is American-sounding garage rock, heavy (too heavy) on the guitars. To be honest, while a few tunes are memorable, most are forgettable, but not annoying thankfully. If Hudson makes a Bloody Roar 3, they might do well to get an entirely new sound team, as the current one is stuck in a serious rut.
-- Gameplay -- 94%
Now we get to the meat of the situation. Bloody Roar was described as Fighting Vipers for the Playstation, and that's what it felt like. The gameplay was very good, and rather deep, but was way too loose. Moves could be strung together helter-skelter, and button mashing was all too often rewarded, even though a good player still could take a scrub... barely.
Bloody Roar 2 fixes all that, and ironically, the gameplay is one area that will probably be overlooked, as typically in fighting games the core engine is not totally changed in sequels, so many will not presume to dig deep into BR2's gameplay to look for differences. I've already seen this happen too many times in reviews of it so far.
To set that straight: BR2 has *much* tighter response and character interaction that before. Powerful moves have been restrained or changed totally; most moves even for returning characters are completely different. The new fighting style imposed upon the game is much more like Tekken in it's feel and juggling ability, yet still "springy" and reflex based (as opposed to pattern based) like Fighting Vipers. There are still plenty of combos to be found, but this time you'll have to work hard but fairly to achieve the more advanced ones. Character balances at this point seems to be good, though Gado can tend to dominate through sheer power, and Bakuryu through sheer speed. New guard and evasion features have been introduced as well. The side step move from BR1 is optional, and oddly is not available in all game modes (though it's available in a normal versus mode, so don't panic if you need it). So far though, it seems to me as if the side step isn't as useful in the first game. The balance in BR2 has definetely been shifted over onto pressure tactics and straightforward combat - which isn't bad, as it keeps the fight tight and focused.
Overall, gameplay is superb, rivaling but not quite surpassing the deepest fighting games on the PSX. Tekken 3 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 may still have an advantage... but it isn't that much.
-- In Total --
And that sums it up. I actually would have given Bloody Roar 2 a overall 9 rather than 8, had the backgrounds and music been less drab. In terms of characters, action, and gameplay, this game is a 9 all the way, make no mistake.
I feel Bloody Roar 2 deserves to have a wider apeal than the first installment, as it's gameplay can much more stand the test of high level tournament fighting, and the characters are some real classics that can carry the game on their own merit for those who give them a chance. BR2 is definetly a purchase, and that's saying something considering how many PSX fighting games appear within a given year.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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