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October 8, 2005
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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Note the cutaway scenes.
It still saddens me that one of my favourite genres from the 16-bit era, that being the side scrolling beat 'em up, has virtually died in recent years. Games such as Streets of Rage, Final Fight and even Double Dragon a couple of years earlier had me hooked for weeks. With the shift to 3D polygon based graphics it seems the genre has lost it's way. Now Capcom are hoping to make an impression with Final Fight: Streetwise announced for release early next year, and the much more low key Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance also just released.

In an area brimming with cartels battling for power and influence, no one comes close to Zanetti’s group, the strongest force in Las Sombras. When Zanetti learns of a rival clan’s drug deal, he dispatches five of his top mercenaries from his inner circle to intervene. When they arrive on the scene, they find their targets have already been executed and to their surprise, they are ambushed by members of their own cartel. They were set up to appearas traitors who were out to nab the drugs and money for themselves. They had been double crossed, but by who? Was this some scheme by the cartel to exploit them as scapegoats? Did one of the five betray the others? Outnumbered and pursued by both their previous cartel and law enforcement officials, the five are forced to split up and disappear into the shadows of Las Sombras. Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance puts gamers in the role of one of the five fugitives as they seek revenge against their foes.

Click To Enlarge Image
Note the cutaway scenes.
The main story mode allows you to select from five different characters including Raven (a rough and tumble rebel with a short fuse who enjoys fighting), Aaron (the Machiavellian bastard love child of Zanetti, the head of the most powerful cartel in Las Sombras), Jason G (an orphan whose second nature is fighting for survival and places high value on his friends), Gina (a stunningly beautiful assassin who's been scorned by a secret lover and is out for revenge) and Lola (a professionally trained assassin from South America with a strong military background). While each has his or her strengths the game is essentially the same. After setting up your base in the local bar you'll have to take on jobs around the city to earn funds and become more powerful.

Fighting generally takes two different forms. One-on-one fights with boss-like characters or larger brawls. During either of these fights your character can perform punches or kicks, blocks and special moves. He (or she) can pick up objects such as knives, steel bars or iron girders to name a few to smash your opponent with. This game is pretty brutal, and well deserving of the MA15+ rating so certainly not one for younger gamers. As you defeat enemies you can press R1 over their bodies to search for items including cash (to buy information, clothing etc), medicine or weapons.

Click To Enlarge Image
Note the cutaway scenes.
As you battle your way through the levels its interesting to note the damage inflicted on the opponents. Their clothes will become bloodsoaked as you pummel them. It's also important to change your appearance through the game to avoid detection by the police and rivals. This is done by purchasing clothes and changing into them. Friends will also join you or provide information critical to your characters storyline. The charaters also level-up RPG style for things such as stamina and technique and makes this game a little strategic in the way your progress your character.

Sadly though Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance is just a chore to play. There's nothing here we haven't seen before and the cameras often become an annoyance when surrounded by enemies. The developers have also included a couple of Vs modes for you and a friend to enjoy, but when you have the choice betweent this game and several others, the incentive to play this game in multi-player is minimal at best.

Graphically there is one term that comes to mind when I think of this game: dull. Most of the fighting seems to be done in dark buildings, or alleyways and while that may be the case in real life (unless you live in Surfers Paradise) in a video game we want to see vast locations and gorgeous graphics. In terms of characters the five main characters in the game are modeled fairly well and the animation and range of moves is adequate. The enemies, however, are generally repetitive, bland and uninspiring. Why is it that every cop looks the same, or every gang member in an area wears almost identical clothing? At least the developers have include a 60Hz mode.

Click To Enlarge Image
Note the cutaway scenes.
So I thought the graphics were pretty dull, that was until I started to listen to the game. Now i've heard my fair share of average speech in games, but this pretty much brings it down to new levels. Now only is the dialogue so corny you'll be wishing your neighbour's 10 year old kid had an input but the way it's delivered is so clich&eachute; that you'll also be wishing that the kid provided the voiceovers too. Exactly why, or how, Capcom approve such shit (or shite as they pronouce if in the game) to have their brand plastered all over it defies logic. Think the sound effects are better? Well they are, but not by much, and nor is the god-awful music which becomes so repetitive that you'll be looking for the volume within a matter of seconds.

My biggest concern with this title isn't that it has actually been released (anyone that doesn't read reviews before buying games deserves such a title) but rather that Capcom are also working on one of my most wanted games next year, Final Fight Streetwise, a game which doesn't look too dissimlar to this lemon. Fortunately while this game was developed by Cavia, Capcom's legendary series update is being handled in-house so there's still hope. Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance is mediocraty at its finest. Avoid unless you're desperate to beat the shit out of things - like your PS2 controller, or the TV you're playing this game on!

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe five main characters are the only thing that looks current-gen!
SOUNDShite voiceovers, shite music and almost shite effects. Pretty shite eh!
GAMEPLAYWe love beat 'em ups, but this is one of the worst we've played.
VALUESo tiring that you're unlikely to wade through this even once.
OVERALLThe Playstation 2 is a system capable of so much more. The developers Cavia have had a chequered history and this game is going to do nothing to bring them up a level. Can someone tell me why Capcom decided to pick this trash up for release?

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