Two men enter, one reviewer leaves.
When it comes to hardcore, mixed-martial arts, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the UFC. Over the past few years, the Octagon has gained fame thanks to the brutal, bloody bouts. But while the UFC hasn't yet become a mainstream event in the States, its brother across the Pacific has.
Japan's Pride Fighting Championships takes the best martial artists from around the world and throws them into the squared circle for more punishment. It's pretty much the same full contact fighting as the UFC and even features a lot of the same faces, such as Carlos Newton, Guy Mezger and Gary Goodridge.
THQ's Pride FC captures this profile perfectly, since it has a lot in common with Crave's UFC titles. 25 fighters face off in an all out battle for supremacy. Sounds great on paper, but the same gameplay, same control and nearly the same features make this fighter just another Joe Boxer.
Pride FC is broken down into 3 simple modes - Grand Prix, Survival and One Match. Grand Prix is a 16 man single elimination tournament, Survival is one man versus the world and One Match is just that - one match. And that's that. Even the last UFC game had a Career mode that would allow players to develop a fighter with attribute points and specific moves and styles. With only the barest minimum of offerings, Pride FC doesn't set out to impress nor does it leave much in the way of play value, since venturing into any of these modes will only last mere minutes at a time. Kinda reminds me of a Tyson fight.
One thing that didn't get knocked out in the first round is the fairly decent Create-a-Fighter. With plenty of appearance options, Pride's fighter creator gives you the ability to create a pretty unique alter-ego. The best part is the ability to customize the fighter's repertoire with any of the moves found in the game. I guess that means you can put together the Ultimate Fighter'so long as you avoid the copyright infringement.
If you've had a chance to play any of the UFC games, you know exactly what you're in for. Pride's fighting system is exactly the same as the UFCs, with one button for each fist and one button controlling each foot. Two button combinations can be used to counter a move or to attempt a takedown. It's that simple and that complex at the same time. No wonder this easy and effective control scheme was rehashed.
The best part about this control system is that it's easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Without much practice, the beginner can still defend himself with basic kicks, punches and a few grappling moves. The master, on the other hand, will be skilled in reversals and breaking down their opponent bit by bit. It's all about the timing - once you figure it out, the game gets much more interesting.
This time, players can continue the fight in two situations that didn't happen in the UFC games. One of them is when one fighter is standing and one is down. The downed fighter can continue to kick at his opponent's legs, while the standing fighter can go for a submission or find other way to dish out some punishment.
The other situation is continuing the fight while the fighters are "hugging." Whether it's smacking the other guy in the back of the head or kneeing him in the nether regions, the fight never stops.
Both visually and audibly, however, Pride FC lacks. While there aren't any graphical faults, everything is as plain as can be. The fighters don't show any damage and don't show off much detail. Sound is confined to the meaty smacks of punches and kicks and there is absolutely nothing in the way of commentary. It's a lightweight presentation.
And speaking of thin, Pride FC doesn't offer anything above and beyond the advertisements. No unlockable fighters, no unlockable movies and no unlockable modes. Weak.
While Pride FC is a fair fighter, it just doesn't do anything we haven't seen before. Essentially, this game was done years ago on the DREAMCAST! It's been a long time since the first UFC hit the video game world and Pride does nothing much different at all.
Maybe that's because Pride FC comes from Anchor, the exact same people who brought us all of those UFC games from Crave. Someone really needs to tell these guys that they can't keep making the same game over and over. Wait a minute, I just did.
When the final bell rings, Pride FC turns out to be nothing more than an average fighter with less than average features. Carried over from the last generation, this fighting game just feels old and fights with no heart whatsoever. Hopefully next time they'll train harder before stepping into the ring.