A recent look at the Critic's Fighting Force 2 review made me want to give this one another go. I don't remember it being that bad the last time I played through it, so an F- seemed VERY extreme. He reviewed the game on Dreamcast, so perhaps there are some discrepancies between the two versions that I hadn't noticed. But I can't fathom them being that different, so I'm just going to give my opinions having just played through this game over the last 2 days. I'll try something new and break it up into categories.
Honestly, I don't even get it. Apparently some corporations have taken over the world and there's been a rise in oligarchy or whatever. Apparently the "Hawk" guy from the first game has become some mega supercop that's been genetically enhanced or whatever. The voice acting is honestly cringe worthy. Not to mention, the plot doesn't develop much after the intro. There's some intense things going on during some cutscenes but there's never a deeper explanation into them through cutscenes. All you get is a mountain of text before each stage to look into what's going on, but in all honesty it reads horribly and wasn't well put together. That's okay, this whole premise is just dystopian lame crap fresh out of some crappy early 90's film like FreeJack, minus the rambling hobo. This category gets a solid F.
Ho-ly (Expletive). I can't even BEGIN to tell you how good this looks for a Playstation game! The character models are well designed (especially Hawk) and the texture quality is surprisingly good! There's noticeably less texture warping than I see in other games of this era, and the lighting effects are super cool. It actually managed to put together some really interesting environments. I also really like how your character's clothes change depending on which environment he's in. It's a nice little touch that adds some attention to detail. Also, in the last stage, there's a section where everything gets a cool wireframed look and you play what amounts to an asteroids type game. Really neat! It gets pulled off quite well. The sound design is cool as well. It doesn't really go for any intense in game music. It's mostly just ambience, and it's quite immersive. Pretty slick!
This is where the package nearly falls apart. The game has tank style controls, but they're manageable enough. But goodness, the melee combat just isn't very slick. I mean, it's doable, but when you're surrounded by several baddies, it just isn't very effective to pound up on some while several others are bludgeoning you to death! To make up for this, there is a special spin kick move you can do after you've filled up a little blue meter enough. You fill this meter by beating up on enemies. It works okay, but it doesn't stop the melee combat from feeling.....ineffective. Fortunately, to remedy this, there are plenty of other weapons. And I mean PLENTY of other weapons. It's almost overwhelming. There's pistols, SMG's, assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, and several melee weapons. There's a knife that you're actually able to throw in a pinch. The gunplay is actually really solid. The guns make nice, satisfying sounds and they're easy to aim. You can enter a first person view to really hone in on an enemy from a distance, and you can even hold another button to allow movement in the first person view. It almost makes it feel like an FPS. The explosive options are really fun, partially because EVERYTHING IN THIS GAME EXPLODES. Seriously. It's kind of ridiculous. You can kick an OFFICE CHAIR and it will EXPLODE, and a lot of the time, a weapon falls out! It's hilarious in all honesty.
The stage design is 50/50. The environments are really neat looking, and a lot of the time, the design is varied and fresh. But other times, it feels like you're running down the same corridor over and over. It's a bit of design whiplash to be honest. There's keys you need to collect much of the time, but they never feel hard to find, and most exploration just rewards you with some extra items. But the presentation IS solid. From the jungle temple, to the steel mill, to the chemical plant that's INFESTED WITH FREAKING ZOMBIES, there's quite a lot of variety in set pieces. There's definitely a gap in how long each stage runs, however. The first stage will run you nearly an hour to finish, but then the next stage only takes a half hour. Then stage three takes WELL over an hour, and then you're immediately hit with the polar base, which only takes about TWENTY MINUTES. On a side note with this polar stage, there are actually missiles mounted on the wall, and if you accidentally shoot one, you die instantly and the entire stage just blows up. Quite bizarre, as the game normally ENCOURAGES you to blow things up.
One thing that helps is the boss battles. That's probably the best part about this game. All of the bosses are unique from one another and have some pretty cool behavior. From the hammer man in the first stage, to the onslaught of spirits in the temple stage, they actually feel pretty fresh. UNTIL YOU GET TO THE FINAL BOSS. The final boss is literally just a computer on the wall, and it's a total joke. You can just pin yourself into a corner to avoid his attacks and shoot it over and over again until it explodes. It's really a pathetic way to end the game. The boss you fight right before the final boss is actually far more exciting and feels way more like a final boss!
In closing, this game has a lot going for it. The varied stage themes, the boss battles, the beautiful graphics, and the variety in weaponry are really awesome features. But the melee controls, repetition, and lack of a compelling plot definitely bite it in the butt a little bit. If some of the stages ran a little shorter, and the melee combat had a target lock on type of system, I'm certain this would have been one of the all time Playstation greats. But as it stands, it's a mixed bag. I can't help but love it's technical prowess while playing it, but some of it's quirks slow that excitement down. It's really quite unfortunate.
That being said, it's still a cool enough game to warrant playing through just once. It's a really cheap game nowadays, so there's really no risk to grabbing a copy for ten bucks or so.
I'd give it a solid C+. There's some real fun to be had here, but it never quite reaches the point of being a consistently good time from start to finish. The quirks will definitely slow your enjoyment down a bit. But if you can tolerate a little bit of whiplash in your enjoyment levels, you'll really learn to savor the fun, if only for one playthrough.
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- Joined: May 24th, 2019, 11:51 pm
great review! i have a special fondness for this game..in 2000 i went to California by greyhound to see my then girlfriend and brought a bunch of PSX games with me and her little brother LOVED Fighting Force 2 and we played it for hours and before i left i gave the game to him...i really liked it and never understood the really bad ratings this received at the time