I've never been stoned like this before.
Long ago and far away in a land called the third grade, I was an artful fighter. I was also a wrestler (Macho Man: O yeeeahh!), a Transformer (anyone but Bumblebee), and a G.I. Joe (Snake Eyes or Stormshadow, naturally). Anyway, I sure did like to fight with my little friends. Not real fighting, of course, but the "Hey I hit you, you're dead, no you didn't, yes I did" imaginary kind. That was the best. There was nothing like beating up on a few buddies at recess.
Even today, I still love beating up my buddies, only now our fights take place in the living room. Armed with nothing but a controller and our vast knowledge of fighting skills, we set off to do battle in realms not of this world. Today, Capcom has opened up a new arena for us. It is an arena of mass destruction, where the weapons are plentiful and the fighting is fast and furious. Welcome to Power Stone 2.
The second installment in the Power Stone series takes all the basic ideas of the first and makes them bigger and better. If you loved the first one, brace yourself, because you'll go bonkers over the sequel.
The first Power Stone made its mark as a fighting game by placing more of an emphasis on using weapons and the environment than the traditional combos and super moves. The style of Power Stone 2's gameplay is exactly the same as the first.
All of the fighting takes place on massive, multi-leveled stages. For example, one stage begins atop a giant airplane, switches to an aerial battle, and then finishes on the ground. With the possible exception of Dead or Alive 2, fighting on multiple levels has never been better.
These arenas also include obstacles, which can be both an advantage and a hindrance. From a giant alien to a massive boulder, levels are filled with dangers that must be avoided. These levels are some of the best fighting game arenas of recent memory and are an awesome sight to behold. The level designer gets a gold star and an extra cookie at lunchtime.
Since there aren't any of the traditional super moves, most attacks can be executed with the simple press of the attack button. Weapons can be picked up and dropped with the action button, and rounding out our list of simple controls is the jump button. If there ever was a pick-up-and-play fighting game, this is it. You don't need a Ph.D. in Street Fighter to kick some serious butt.
This simplicity can also be a problem at times, though. Projectile weapons sometimes miss the desired target and head off in a totally different direction. You would think that the weapon would just fire in the direction you are facing, but it seems as though there is some kind of auto-target program that makes you aim for the nearest enemy. This is not a problem in one on one matches, but when the maximum amount of players is on screen, things can get messy. This little problem is especially annoying when you accidentally hit your own teammate. It doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen.
You'll just have to find a way to deal with this because multiplayer fighting is one of the game's best features. Power Stone 2 features four-player simultaneous fighting with no framerate problems at all. Gone are the days of one on one matches. Now the whole crew can enter the fray at once! Establish a team or fight with every man for himself, because no matter what you choose, four players at once makes for one terrific party game.
With the action of four fighters, the camera sometimes has difficulty capturing them all. In this case, it zooms way out to facilitate all characters appearing on screen at once. Unfortunately, this makes it really easy to lose track of your fighter amidst the mayhem.
Since Power Stone 2 isn't heavy on the moves list, a massive amount of weapons makes up for it. From the standard bazooka to the wacky bubble gun, this game has got more weapons than you can shake your magic stick at. A plethora of other objects, including gun turrets, tanks and hovercrafts, make fighting the enemy much more interesting.
It doesn't stop there. Power Stone 2 also contains an adventure mode in which players can collect the various items and weapons that are found in the game. After grabbing a few items, a trip to the store is in order. Here you can buy, sell, and even mix your items, turning them into something you've never seen before! This scheme is similar to Diablo II's Horadric Cube and introduces more new weapons than you thought were ever possible. Hmmm... what kind of wine would go best with my flaming sword topped with thunder element?
The only big problem I have with this game is the lack of single player depth. Passing the game is a short, easy task and other than the item collection in adventure mode, there isn't enough single player action to keep things fresh. But toss a few friends on the couch and it's magic.
Power Stone 2 is easily one of the best party fighters currently out. The four-player matchups are filled with non-stop, frantic action. The single player game has some replay value with the adventure mode, but undoubtedly pales in comparison to the multiplayer madness. If you've got the party pad, be sure to pick this one up.