What games do you think of when you look at the beat ‘em up genre? First, you got your 2D beat ‘em ups that took place on a 2-dimensional plane. When I think of those kinds of games, I think of games like Final Fight, Knights of the Round, King of Dragons, Streets of Rage, Ninja Warriors, Kung Fu, Splatterhouse, TMNT Turtles in Time, and many other classic beat ‘em up games. Sadly, the 3D beat ‘em up genre doesn’t really have a lot of good games in that genre. Of course, we have the awesome Yakuza series for this answer. However, we usually think about bad or just average (some slightly above average) games that really come to mind in this genre. The games I can think of are The Bouncer, Final Fight Streetwise, and you get the idea. The 3D beat ‘em up genre isn’t that good. It isn’t the genre’s fault. It’s just hard to make a good 3D beat ‘em up. I recently was watching a video about 200 PS2 games and I saw one that caught my eye and it happened to be a 3D beat ‘em up. I put it on my Gamefly.com list and I rented it. The game in question is what people consider to be an underrated gem known as Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance for the PS2 and Xbox. Made by our now defunct friends from Cavia, who made Nier, Beat Down is yet another attempt to try and make a 3D platformer, and from the big name reviews, I could see I was going down a bumpy road ahead. However, I only read the reviews to see what I was getting into. It is my turn to see what I think about the game. This is my review of Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance.
The story is about 5 different characters. You can choose one of them, and mostly you will probably start out with the titular Irish character, Raven. You find out that one of the other 4 characters has betrayed you during a mission. It is up to you to find out who betrayed you and to take down the big mob boss that runs the city named Zanetti and beat him down to the ground with vengeance. Normally, I would save the bad stuff for later in the review, but man, when I turned on the game and played through it for a few hours, the story is utter crap and is ultimately pointless, with bland characters and voice acting that is just awful. I will go into deeper detail later in the review. All you need to know is that the game starts out bad, and it just gets worse story wise. Just a heads up, I might trickle bad thoughts about this game throughout the review so don’t be surprised by me bashing the game even before I talk about the bad.
The gameplay is like a weak version of Yakuza or God Hand. That is saying something since the last time I played it, I didn’t like it, but that game is for another review. The gameplay is basically a free roaming beat ‘em up with some interesting things thrown in that that were poorly executed. The main meat of the game is, of course, beating random thugs into the ground, and after the fight, stealing from them. However, you can do multiple things besides beating thugs into the ground. One thing you can do is recruit the thugs into joining you, or putting them on call just in case your other teammates get their pants knocked off. You can also rob from them, and get information from them, though the information is pretty useless. There is one thing you do actually have to be careful about. Above your health bar, you have two meters that stand for your awareness by gangs and the police. This means that you have to be careful how many times you beat people up, and well, that just seems really stupid. To get around this however, you can also buy different clothes, and oddly enough, plastic surgery, and make yourself unnoticeable. If you are however noticeable by both groups of enemies, you will automatically get into fights. There are also one-on-one fights that I guess are supposed to be boss fights, but they play like broken versions of Virtual Fighter. In the end, this game does try to break things up a bit with a beat ‘em up style gameplay that makes you level up and gain more combos with stealth, and squad-based fighting, but they ultimately fail in multiple areas.
This is a hard area to go through in this review since I don’t really have a lot of nice things to say about the presentation of the game. The graphics are muddy, grainy, and way too dark. Before even playing the game, I tried to make the game brighter, but in the end I couldn’t. The really only good thing I could say is, well, the main character is original with his accent…he is Irish…. for some reason…Anyway, back to the review. The voice acting is terrible. I will say my reason in the next paragraph. The music is standard and not very memorable in the least.
I probably should have left all my complaints here, but I will explain in better detail what is horribly wrong with this game! Since I already talked about the graphics, I’ll move on. The voice acting is BAD! Everyone, especially the guys, sound the same, and they sound like Steve Blum voices them all. This is kind of like two of the main characters in Vanquish. The AI is simply and utterly stupid. I mean, they are really dumb, both ally and enemy AI! Yeah, the AI will throw a few punches here and there, but they will mostly stand still and not help at all, and the same with the enemies. The camera is awkward! It is way too close to your character and this ends up hiding hidden enemies. The hiding system with the thugs and police is utter garbage! It is only for the sake of buying new clothes and plastic surgery. At the end of the day, you look like Tim Curry from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I mean, it’s like Cavia took the bare basics of all of the gameplay mechanics above, and well, didn’t really improve on them. Even after playing this game for a few minutes, I didn’t care about the story. I said to myself that I should play further, and I did, and boy, am I sorry that I did.
This game is garbage, plain and simple. There is nothing properly polished about this game, and anyone who considers this an underrated gem is probably in denial at how bad this game is. I mean this is one of the worst! Bland characters, bland story, awful gameplay, and all a complete mess. If you want to play a good 3D beat ‘em up, go play the Yakuza series and God Hand. That is weird since, like I said, God Hand isn’t my game, but after this game I would prefer God Hand to this. As with most games I think are just awful, it will end up on my black list of just overall poor games.
This game gets a 2 out of 10.