Fighting Force 2
Fortunately Core Design's sequel to its crappy but inexplicably successful 3D action/fighter is nothing like its predecessor. This time you just play one character who runs around military complexes blowing stuff up while pulling off a pretty mean impression of Solid Snake. Eidos has high hopes for the Dreamcast version set for release in November, and it has to be said that if nothing else, the graphics look pretty sweet.
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Fighting Force brought beat-em-up action to the PlayStation, and now Eidos is hoping to rejuvenate this neglected genre with Fighting Force 2. Because Dr. Zeng died in the first game, Hawk Manson now faces the secret cyborg soldiers that Zeng left behind. The graphics already look stronger than the original's, and Eidos is promising that the real-time lighting, prerendered backgrounds, new cameras, and new 3D engine will ramp up the eye candy for these fisticuffs. FF2's new A.I. means the enemies should put up a better fight as Eidos releases a playable version, we'll fill you in on how this prospect's shaping up.
Despite lukewarm reviews, the original Fighting Force sold more than 400,000 copies. The game's primary innovation was the ability to use virtually any on-screen object, including everything from soda cans to engine blocks, as a weapon. Take away this gimmick and what remained was a fairly hum-drum Final Fight knock-off done in three dimensions. You know, walk right, kill somebody, continue walking right... Wisely, developer Core has gone back to the drawing board for Fighting Force 2. At this early stage, the game appears to be more of a Syphon Filter-style action/adventure. In addition to an assortment of knives, clubs and bats, the player now has an arsenal of new weapons at his or her disposal, including a zoomable sniper rifle.
This time around, Hawk Mason, the lone survivor from the original Fighting Force, must infiltrate a corporation suspected of conducting illegal human cloning experiments, destroy any completed cyborg/clones, and erase the memory of the company's super computer. To do so, Hawk must discover clues, information, hidden keys and the like. If you get stuck. Hawk's data handset can be used to contact the control base to obtain additional information and mission objectives.
The game contains more than 50 unique enemies said to have both individual and group behavior patterns. While one guy may be unafraid to take you on all by himself, others may flee, look for help, or sound an alarm. Kind of like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter or Time Crisis, they also have multiple impact points which register blows to different parts of their bodies.
To get the better of these smarter enemies, Hawk must use far more stealth than he did in his last outing. Running away sometimes may be more beneficial than a direct assault.
Following the lead of another Core-developed franchise, namely the Tomb Raider series, Fighting Force 2 also has lots of moody interior environments. Colored lights and real-time lighting effects abound, giving the game an edgier, more cinematic look. While the ability to choose your character will be missed, the added strategy and depth of gameplay seem to make the tradeoff worthwhile.
There are two important things you should know about Eidos and Core's follow-up to their brawler. One, the game looks great so far and two, the gameplay is virtually nothing like the first Fighting Force. The action is more in line with Tomb Raider or Metal Gear with lots of emphasis on exploration and sneaking around. The game even has a Sniper Rifle Mode. Look for FF2 this October.
Let's not beat around the bush here, Fighting Force 2, like its older sibling Fighting Force, sucks. If the first FF was a mediocre venture into Die Hard Arcade territory, then FF2 is an attempt to cash in on Syphon Filter's gameplay and success. FF2 fails on so many levels it's embarrassing--for both Eidos/Core, and the franchise they're trying to establish. I know it's only a "blow stuff up" kinda game, but FF2 is so ridiculous it's constantly threatening to obliterate my suspension of disbelief. I mean, what's up with the main character being able to smash open a security safe with a karate kick? And what's the deal with the enemy Al that's nearly nonexistent? Guards will literally stand in a cluster and wait for you to painstakingly scroll through your bag of goodies, whip out a grenade and frag their dumb asses. The gameplay in FF2 has taken a turn for the 3D platform-esque feel. But somewhere along the line, Core chickened out. As a result, what began as a shallow 3D beat-'em-up is bogged down with these pseudo adventure contrivances. The first level itself takes nearly an hour to play through, and to make matters worse, you can't save during levels...and there are areas throughout each of the nine (fairly large) levels that instantly kill you. After playing FF2, you'll want to karate kick your PlayStation too. Argh!
When I first dove into this game, it felt like Core had taken the original Fighting Force and added Tomb Raider-style story and depth to it. Turns out I just wasn't that lucky. Most of the massive levels seem to lead nowhere and get dull quickly. Sure, it's fun to destroy nearly everything you see, and some weapons are pretty cool. But the novelty wears thin when you blast your hundredth stone-dumb enemy or blow apart your 50th desk chair.
I'm not sure who would enjoy this title? The combat is so unbelievable and contrived that even hardcore violence fans may think it's too stupid. Kick an office chair and it explodes? Destroy almost everything you come upon with your boot? It's like they added destruction just for destruction's sake. The enemies have no brains either. They basically stand around waiting to be shot or kicked with your all-powerful boot. I'll pass on this one.
Hearing what sounded like cries of pain coming from Che's cubicle while he played FF2, I wondered what the big deal was. Frankly, I don't understand his utter disgust with the game. Granted, FF2 is far from being the year's most innovative title, but it's much better than the first Fighting Force (which isn't saying much quite honestly). Maybe I'm a little strange but I found the game to be fun at times. I still suggest renting rather than buying.
It's one of those mysteries of the universe. Fighting Force 2 for the PlayStation is a bad game, but apparently a lot of people are buying it. So I reckon it doesn't really matter what I say about the Dreamcast version in this review. FF2 looks pretty. It will sell. But for those of you who care about more than just nifty visuals and mindless brawling, listen up: FF2 on the Dreamcast is just as dull and shallow as the PlayStation version. Trodding from room to room, kicking computer monitors and shooting the stupidest enemies in the universe may make for a dandy half hour or so of brainless fun, but try it for three hours. Yawn. Levels sprawl without structure. The "missions" are pointless and contrived. There's a cool story here somewhere, but who cares when the action's this lame. Really the best thing about FF2 is the massive arsenal of usual and unusual weaponry you'll stumble across (usually by beating up office furniture, crates and other obstacles). Yet even that aspect of the game's hurt by the awkward inventory system. Control is fine, but moves are so simple you should be able to master every combo in about Five minutes. If you're babysitting children and want a simple game to keep them quiet for a few hours, FF2 will do the trick. But if you demand even a little depth from your action games, look elsewhere.
All video games should be like Fighting Force 2. If the plot gets boring, or non-existent, simply walk around and destroy stuff. That's basically what FF2 boils down to (there's certainly no shortage of stuff to break). And I have to admit it's fun for a little while. Soon however, the novelty wears off and you're stuck with a weak, no-substance game. More time developing the story, characters and play mechanics would've been advantageous for FF2.
Fighting Force 2 is back, and looking better than ever. In its own abstract way, the better graphics in FF2 actually make the game more offensive than its PS counterpart. Why? Because the visual frosting on the DC disguises FF2's total lack of substance. To reiterate from last month: Shallow boring button mashing gameplay, Hawk Manson is grotesquely generic, and there are no save points during hour-long levels. Don't do it. Do not buy this game.
It's Official-Core Design really isn't the hotsh*t developer that we've been duped into thinking they are. FF2 is conclusive proof. It's unimaginative, clichSd, tedious and badly presented. A real cookie-cutter action game if ever there was one. It doesn't offer anything new, it's not particularly exciting, and the controls are truly awful. I can't think of much to recommend it--the graphics aren't even that hot. Yuck. Avoid it like you would cooties.