Don't freak out...
Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. is Midway's second foray into the Nintendo 64 fighting market, and at least I can say is that it's better than the absolutely horrible War Gods. This time around the character design is darn innovative, the 3D environments are both nice to look at and exciting, and it's gorier than ever. Unfortunately, the controls still feel sticky and the fighting system isn't nearly up to par with Tekken or Street Fighter. Bio FREAKS is just a decent game under the mantle of a great graphic engine.
The story for Bio FREAKS is commendable, and unlike the Tekken series (and especially Tekken 3), Bio FREAKS has a story you can follow. Set in the future, America has fallen and the fifty states have broken up into different territories. Huge corporations have started to take over the different states and are using genetically enhanced spies to look into the dealings of other corporations. Thus Neo-Amerika was born.
Attempting to regain control of escalating violence, an agreement was made between the corporations and the remaining US government. The Secret Games Commission was formed, disputes between corporations would be settled in an arena. One fighter from each corporation would represent them, and when they beat an opposing corporation, the winner would take all of their territories. This is when the corporations developed the Bio F.R.E.A.K.S., or Biological Flying Robotic Enhanced Armored Killing Synthoids.
There are nine different fighters to choose from, and some of the most interesting character design seen in games today. There are three different classes of FREAKS, synthoids that have no mechanical enhancements, retros that have weapons attached to their bodies, and dozers that are completely mechanical except for their brains.
The weapons and armor that each character have are all different, and fortunately, are extremely cool. Take Zipperhead for example. On one arm he has a huge gun attached and on the other he has a massive axe-like weapon attached. You can use either of these weapons in the game along with various kicks and special moves to dismember and decapitate your opponents.
Gameplay is very reminiscent of Time Killers, an old arcade game where you could chop the other characters to pieces. In Bio FREAKS you can cut off opponents arms, making them unable to execute some moves, as well as being able to decapitate them for the quick finish to a round. Blood flies everywhere and even comically sprays across the camera.
Each character has a gun and a jet-pack, so you are able to fly around anywhere in a level as well as shoot your opponent. Protection against the guns comes in the form of a shield, which can only be activated for a short time before running out. This adds a bit of strategy to an otherwise static fighting game.
The graphics in Bio FREAKS look exceptional. Although the N64 version doesn't run quite as quickly as the PlayStation version, the textures and the 3D models look a lot better. The crisp and detailed backgrounds add depth as well as strategy - just like in Mace: The Dark Age, there are traps in the arenas that can hurt you. But the best looking effects are when you knock another characters' limb off. The blood that constantly spews from the new orifice of the amputee looks realistic and funny at the same time. [Ed. Note: 'Tis only a flesh wound!] Definitely a showcase of great graphics on the N64.
The main problem in Bio FREAKS is the fighting system, and considering the genre of this game, that's pretty important. Compared to Tekken and Street Fighter, it just feels sticky and childlike.The projectile weapon / shield balance is the most innovative part of the combat, and is well done. However, being unable to perform complicated combos and reversals, as well as throws, makes Bio FREAKS feel like a fighter from the pre-Street Fighter 2 era. Definitely not something you would want in 1998.
The other problem is the final boss, Mutilator. He is simply too hard. A dozer that is about 5 times the height of your character, his moves are nearly unstoppable and do tons of damage, making it overly difficult to finish the game.
And if you beat the Mutilator, what do you get? Nothing. Not even a movie. There are no hidden characters. No easter eggs. No quest mode. Not even a cheap Bio FREAKS force mode. While this isn't critical when you are fighting against your friends, it makes the one-player replay value almost nil. Like a coin-op arcade fighter, it has no depth. I want more for my home system.
The problems in Bio FREAKS aren't many, but they are large enough to seriously affect how fun the game is. Bio FREAKS is more of a comical game, overly gory with a relatively simple control system, that makes a good diversion but not much of a lasting experience.