Fighting Force 2
Streets of Rage and Final Fight were the epitome of the era of side-scrolling, two-player beat'-em-up genre of games with their roots in Double Dragon. Fighting Force capitalized on the 32-bit era of gaming with the same basic concepts but utilized the PlayStation's 3D engine. It basically answered the prayers of those longing for this type of game. Unfortunately, the community had missed the style that Streets of Rage and Final Fight gave to players. And while Fighting Force filled in that gap, it was still not enough in terms of style. Finally, the sequel to the Eidos' beat'-em-up, Fighting Force 2 was unleashed upon the public with uncertainty, and it shows.
The folks at Core Design did a 180 degree turnabout when they developed Fighting Force 2. Here is a game that just doesn't live up to the hype and expectations of fighting game fans. Although there are fighting elements in the game, they are so pathetic that it makes the first Fighting Force look excellent. Basically, the game has been grouped with the action adventure category simply due to the nature of its gameplay, which is more like Tomb Raider and Tomorrow Never Dies than anything else.
Granted, the special effects, graphics and animation are top-notch. The motion-captured moves are fast, fluid and precise, while the effects are dazzling, especially with the glowing pool of green bubbling liquid or the sparks that fly every time you destroy a computer or power box. Soda cans that fall out of the soda machine are nicely done with some rather realistic physics. As well, any fire or laser effects in the game continue to push the limits (if there are any) of the Dreamcast. However, the overall picture is clear to see (or unclear, actually), the game is too dark! Plus, the camera can really throw you off when it twists and rotates you in the opposite direction, allowing enemies to hit you from behind. Fortunately, you can pull off a back fist maneuver to get out of the situation.
The textures and colors are solid in the game despite a few clipping glitches with the characters. You'll rarely get to see Hawk's face as the third-person behind-the-player camera view mode is almost always active, and you cannot change the camera angle per se. It does allow you to look around when you press both the left and right triggers on the controller. However, the zoom has a limitation to its viewing range and doesn't even compare with games like Metal Gear Solid whenever you're trying to pick off enemies. The introduction video was done superbly, however the in-game cut-scene that leads you into the beginning of the game isn't nearly as good. The fast moving train in the first area looks amazing. But what is the point of the enemy at the top of the roof across from it? You can shoot him but is there any other purpose when you can't get over there? Probably not!
Controlling Hawk is easy except for the fact that he can't run backwards (he walks instead). And while there is a side-rolling feature, they should have included a lateral strafing move. Like its predecessor, Fighting Force 2 allows you to destroy as much of the surrounding environments as you like, although most of it is just for the heck of it. Strangely enough, you can cause a chair to explode just by kicking it! In fact, you can jump over boxes and other objects and they will explode no matter what - even door activation consoles on the wall! For some reason, destroying them isn't required for you to open doors. One neat effect occurs whenever you're beating up a copy machine, the papers fly everywhere! But the oddest thing about the game is that anything you do demolish can spring forth a power-up such as first aid kits or weapons. Since when do chairs have first aid kits hidden in them?
Some of the fighting styles from the first game have been kept here, including the backhand combo. But the special attacks that you learn aren't exactly spectacular. Most of the basic moves are redundant and actually hinders your gameplay because you can't stop in the middle of your combo! This opens you up for an attack by the enemy. Of course, it doesn't really matter because the game isn't hard.
Fighting Force 2 is a relatively easy game to beat. The availability of power-ups is abundant while the lack of many enemies is obvious. The game's only difficulty is to avoid falling off or into things such as ladders and molten lava. And because the analog controls are somewhat sensitive, it's easy to get yourself killed if you're not careful. If you do die, the option to continue is good but it doesn't do too much for you when you have to start all over from the last place you accessed an important door. There is also a 180-degree turn button that is quite useless since it's set for all directions of the D-pad.
Another quirk deals with aiming your gun. Although it looks cool that Hawk points his gun sideways like a "gangsta", the automatic targeting of your enemies does not always compute. Sometimes it even points away from the enemy yet you can still kill them!
What's even more frustrating is the fact that the items that appear after destroying crates or other objects don't register. In other words, there's no indication, whether visual or audio, that shows that you've picked up the item! And the inventory selection button is quick and efficient, but it's all the more frustrating when you can't always decipher what it is that you're choosing because the graphic depiction of the items are not completely clear. The ultimate question the game leaves you with is: what is the point of going around destroying everything when it has nothing to do with your goals?
There are some redeeming qualities left in the game but they don't deal with gameplay. Such is the case with the sound effects, which are very realistic and ambient. As you knock a canister and it jiggles around, the metal pop is heard loudly. The intro music is decent and original but any such music doesn't seem to exist while you're actually playing the game. As well, the game suffers from a lack of voiceovers. There are a few moans and groans and maybe some quick speeches in the beginning and end of the game, but other than that you'll be so pent-up and bored that completing the game wouldn't be a big enough deal to endeavor listening to any final speeches.
Some of the weapons like the shotgun and rapid-fire pistol result in interesting effects, as well as practicality, of course. The other weapons, like the pipe or knife, aren't really effective. They do more damage than bare fist fighting, but not much more. Most of the enemies as well as the objects that you inflict damage upon take several shots, and it doesn't help when you have to face them the right way. The movement of your character overcompensates, leaving you to realign yourself over and over again.
Fortunately, the jumping feature is actually used for leaping over pools of acid and other dangerous areas. Too bad the so called Tomb Raider (or even Crusaders of Might and Magic) elements are weak. When you're clinging on a ledge and pull yourself up, you're asking for trouble since the controls (which cannot be modified) aren't naturally assigned to make this feature convenient enough to perform. And making matters worse, the thing that will drive players crazy is the fact that you can't save a game until the very end of each major level!
For those beat'-em-up game fans who were expecting more fists and feet action, this is one sequel that doesn't give the original justice. And for the action adventure enthusiasts, the boredom will set in after you've played it for a few hours. Fighting Force 2 is not a force to be reckoned with! ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide
In addition to a few glitches, the game is a bit too dark and the small amount of cut-scenes isn't very exciting. The animation is fluid however, but camera angle control is nearly non-existent and even hinders gameplay when it doesn't respond naturally. The best visual effect is the green pool of bubbling acid. ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide
The sound is very realistic but there could have been more music played throughout the game. There also could have been more voiceovers as well as more variety (albeit high quality) in the sound effects department. ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide
The only enjoyment I got out of this was a few cans of soda and my anger expressed by the mess I made to all those useless computer consoles and ventilation pipes. ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide
After playing this, why would anyone care to play it twice when they've already given up the first time around? There's nothing more to explore because there is literally nothing worthy of exploring to begin with. The save feature is fruitless when you can't save at any time, and since it's a one-player only game, it becomes a very lonely experience. ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide
There are 17 pages of quick and basic commands and other tidbits about the game that pretty much sums up why they didn't spend more time on the instructions -- the game is not worth writing about! Also, it is apparent that the back cover of the jewel case didn't make the cut when it does not state that the vibration function is supported (which it is). ~ Cal Nguyen, All Game Guide