Forced Fight Part Deux
I love my cable TV. How else should I spend my Saturday afternoons when I'm not playing video games? So, I was watching old Saturday Night Live episodes on Comedy Central when they had one of those Hans and Frans sketches. You know -- the two Austrian weight lifters that pump iron and hurl insults, "You puny little girly-man, we're gonna pump you up." These two guys are focused on image, all talk, and at the heart of it, there just isn't anything there except a memorable tag line. Segue to Fighting Force 2.
The first Fighting Force was a god-awful game that tried to rejuvenate the button masher days of Final Fight. So, why is there a sequel? Probably because it sold pretty well.
Well, at least they've gone in a new direction for the sequel. It's only a one player game this time, and rather than straight button mashing, it's more of a third person game like Eidos' other recent release, Tomb Raider 4. Plus, your goals are supposedly closer to a those of subversive tactical mission. Those are some hefty promises of improvement… promises all broken.
Hawk (the hero) is your cookie cutter, dime-store tough dude. He's back from the first game for more freedom-fighting action. Ask me if I care. Lacking anything that can be called real characterization, Hawk serves no other purpose thanto be a set of legs kicking at the steady waves of thugs. He also has fists to blow up insolent office chairs (everything you punch explodes!), and a small arsenal of weapons to shoot things. Yes, those are the breadth of his attacks. Limited would be an understatement.
The game opens up with a little background information. Seems like the Knackamiche Corporation has some sort of evil plan underway. What's the plan? It's irrelevant - the game doesn't even seem to care. Genetics and human cloning bent to nefarious deeds, no doubt. After that, you get to see Hawk pumped full of strength enhancing drugs. Gee whiz, didn't mommy say steroids were bad?
With the camera behind you like in the Tomb Raider series, you plod Hawk around the straightforward progression of rooms and doorways. With very little exploration, you are essentially pointed from one place to the next. In each room you must push a huge boulder up a hill... err.. I mean, you are damned to kill all your opponents before you can proceed. After the last one is felled, a key card is left; use the key card to open the next room and repeat, repeat, repeat ad nauseum.
There is also a failed attempt to use changing objectives. Let's say you were a real spy sent on a covert operation; the details and goals of your mission can change as you progress. Metal Gear Solid had a certain subtlety that created the feel of infiltration, coupled with changing objectives. In comparison, Fighting Force 2 is the proverbial bull in the china shop. Even when objectives do change, you are still led by the hand to the next task, and that task is always to just beat up some more guys.
The enemies are morons. Sometimes they'll just stand there, complacently waiting for you to make a move. When you fight them, its always the same - a few punches or kicks, and they topple. There aren't any actual combos either, just simple pseudo moves executed by a three button sequence. The times that the enemy does manage to hit you, it just feels like a cheap smack.
Handguns. Shotguns. Clubs. Grenades. Yes, there's some weapon variety, but they all function under to three basic constraints. Shoot it. Whack it. Or throw it. When a gun is emptied, do you reload? Nope. Hawk throws the gun at the enemy. Lets just say that Hawk just doesn't seem like the brightest of boys.
Graphically, there is no prevailing sense of style, and a few problems that don't help either. The dreamcast version is nice and sharp, but the textures are unbelievably bland, and the characters all look primitive and blocky compared to those in topnotch Dreamcast games. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this was quickly ported over from the Playstation with few improvements. Warehouses, corporate offices, boiler rooms - they all look bland and uninspired. The same thing can be said for the enemies. Other than Hawk, they all look the same. There are also some clipping issues and problems with the camera in tight corners.
I would like to say something about the music, but there wasn't any. Not one note. Not even any environmental noise to speak of. Groans of pain and your standard chopsocky sound effects comprise the total audio package. [I don't know what 'chopsocky' means, but i like it. ~Ed]
Fighting Force 2 is one game that seriously needs to be pumped up. While it is actually playable, and an attempt at something different from the awful first Fighting Force, this game is so boring I can hardly stand it. There's no variety in fighting foes. There's no exploration or depth. If you wondered why I mentioned Comedy Central in the beginning, it's because this game is a joke.