Memories, memories, memories. Fighting Force takes me back in time to the 16-bit era where side scrolling beat-'em-ups ran rampant. Great games like Final Fight and such. I spent many an hour bashing heads with the lead pipe and special moves in that game. Now it is the 32-bit era and frankly, I am surprised it took someone this long to release this type of game. The question is whether or not this generation will embrace a brawler like Fighting Force, or did this genre come to an end with the 16-bit systems?
Fighting Force lets you choose four different characters to battle through 3D worlds. You can either play alone or play with a friend to team up and whup some ass. Weapons and hand to hand combat are all abound to help you make it through the seven levels and 22 stages. A lack of action is not a problem with this game.
This game can be best described as a 3D Final Fight. Everything, from the silly names of the opponents to the subway levels, screams Final Fight. This is not bad, because I loved that game. If you have never played it, the object is the same as with Fighting Force. You play as a good guy who is always being harassed by a gang of thugs. Your job is to beat up these thugs by any means possible and progress farther into the level. Once you reach the end of the level, you will see a count of the enemies you got and how much damage you inflicted, and then it is on to the next level. That is about it.
Fighting Force lets you choose from four different characters to play, each with their own unique attributes. Two of the characters are men and two are women. All of the characters have one thing in common: they can bust some serious noggin. They all have standard punches and kicks but each one has unique special moves. Some of the moves are more devastating than others, but also take longer to pull off.
A big part of the game is the various weapons you will find to help your cause. For example, if you beat on the cop car at the beginning of level one, a rocket launcher pops out of the trunk. Pick it up and wait for someone to come attack you, and launch a missile at them. I really enjoyed blasting the van full of bad guys. You will also find night sticks, grenades and pistols. Just about everything that is on the screen can be picked up and used as a weapon also. Throwing tires, engines, trash cans and anything else you find will help keep you alive longer.
The thing I liked most about this game was the freedom you had. You were free to pretty much explore anywhere you wanted. You did run into dead ends and walls quite often, but you could still roam around in a 3D environment, which was quite fun. Also, you were able to interact with the backgrounds and environments by smashing buildings and other objects.
That brings me to the thing that sets this game apart from the older 16-bit titles that share the same game style. Since all of the objects can be interacted with, it is up to you to do so. To be more specific, it was up to you to smash the hell out of everything. At the end of the levels, you receive points for the amount of damage you inflict on your surroundings. As a general rule, it was always good to hit anything that looked like it needed to be broken. If it looked like it was breakable, it probably was.
One thing to be cautious of is the learning curve of the controls. Actually, the controls are easy enough. It is the orientation that takes some time to get used to. Since this is a 3D game, it takes some time to adapt to the different angles and directions. There were numerous occasions where I wanted to do something, but turned the wrong direction. After playing for a bit, it does get easier but it never really becomes second nature. I guess this is an inherent problem with 3D games and having the freedom to move in and out of the screen, but it is still an issue.
The other thing I really did not like about this game was that it became repetitive. It seemed like you were fighting the same guys over and over. Sure, you moved up levels and the bad guys changed between levels, but there was not much variation during levels. I don't want to say that the game gets boring, but once the shine of a new game wore off, it definitely lost some appeal.
The graphics in this game are pretty well done. The 3D environment gives you an idea of what is to come in the future. On the flip side, the 3D also reminds you that there will be some adjusting to do to get used to this type of game in 3D. Even though the bad guys did get repetitive, they were still cool-looking and had personality.
I think the old school gamers will enjoy this game just for the nostalgia of the gameplay. As far as the newer generation gamers, you will have some fun with this title, but you may not find it overly exciting. About the same time you get a handle on the feel of the controls, you will also start to tire of the same old enemies. You could do a lot worse than this game.