Review by FinalZwiel

"Beat Down: Fists of Dissappointment"

Introduction:

I must admit that I had high hopes for this game upon seeing the movies and hearing about it in various previews, believing it to be the next generation Streets of Rage or Final Fight that scrolling beat 'em up fans had been longing for. Growing up with this genre I was fairly excited about the prospect of this game. Maybe my high hopes made the disappointment even more bitter.

The plot of the game revolves around the five main bunch of exotic and miss-mash of gang members (obligatory wrestler, Capoeira dancer etc) who are framed in a drug deal that goes sour, when the dealers are killed. Following their escape, they go on the run and seek revenge. The content of the game is especially adult, featuring themes such as drugs, swearing extreme violence and the dark world of organised crime. However this only makes the dialogue only more laughable as it seems to be written by a 12 year old. The trademark Capcom acting is present and correct, with some of the worst voice acting I have come across since the original Resident Evil.

The Game - "Time to open up the gates of hell."

Although disappointing, Beat Down contains some innovative ideas: First of all there is a cinematic introduction that is nicely put together, with some interesting effects and clips. The feature of changing your appearance is very detailed too and actually serves a purpose, namely, to avoid detection by the police and other gang members. Not only can clothes be altered, but tattoos can be added, piercings obtained and hairstyles changed. Not to mention plastic surgery. Unfortunately this serves as more of a hindrance than anything else, as personally I enjoyed getting into fights a bit more than wandering around the samey looking city, periodically changing outfits, without much happening.
Likewise, the RPG elements seemed out of place such as leveling up your character so that they learn a new (and fairly useless) move and also the recruitment of other gang members to your cause, who you must pummel into submission before they join you.

Features - "Ok, I'll do what you say."

Another feature that also deserves a mention is the two different fights. When wandering around the streets you can engage in group fights, which tend to be over all too quickly. In addition, one on one challenges occur which play like a more simplistic 'Tekken' style fight. The combat system plays like an old 3D beat 'em up and just feels rushed. This is the biggest let down, as the one on one fights are the core, of which the main features stem from, where, upon victory you can mug, interrogate, recruit or beat down your opponent. Although self explanatory a mention should go to the 'beat down' option, where by you are treated to a cut scene of your character pummeling the beaten opponent to death. Lovely. This serves to increase one of your 3 overall ratings, "Charisma". Although, quite why beating a hapless person to death increases your popularity is anyone's guess. The other two ratings are "cashflow" and "leadership" with the latter being built through constant recruitment and "cashflow" by raking in lots of money. Increasing these three statistics will provide you with a rank, serving to unlock more features of the game.

It's hard to compare this game with anything else, because it is a fairly unique game. In a way it can be described as a more 'adult' and violent Shenmue, with the mystic storyline being replaced by gang violence and politics. Beat Down doesn't quite have the same depth and vast storyline elements as Shenmue, but in my opinion it is a bit more exciting to play than Shenmue. That is not saying much, however as I found Shenmue was tediously boring to play at the best of times.

Summary

The game play itself has a wildly fluctuating level of difficulty, ranging from fairly routine fights where an opponent seems to stand like a training dummy, taking a pummeling and then some one on one fights where the opponent draws a razor wire bat, in order to leave you as a bloody mess on the floor. This in itself makes the game very frustrating and poorly balanced.

Having said that, I wouldn't describe Beat Down as a bad game per se. The game is by no means perfect, or even good. I would like to describe it as more of a missed opportunity, with some nice ideas that are just poorly implemented into a game which just doesn't feel finished. I have no doubts that there will be fans of the game, but I would imagine they would be few and far between.

This is definitely one game that I would recommend you try before you buy. If you can enjoy the game and overlook the games flaws then enjoy it and bust open some heads.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/05


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