Beat Down Fists of Vengeance ReviewCain Dornan
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance had the potential to be a solid, unique and enjoyable experience. Combining a variety of classic fighting moves and styles, throwing in a touch of Role Playing elements and offering a somewhat decent sized, free-roaming city sounds fairly promising to us – on paper that is. However, upon booting up Capcom’s latest interesting take on the fighting genre, all hopes of playing a refreshing fighter are immediately thrown out the door as soon as you begin playing the game’s first tutorial-based fight. The simple fact is that Beat Down simply fails to correctly utilize it’s potential to create a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
Before I begin complaining about the game’s numerous shortfalls, allow me to enlighten you on the storyline, characters and setting. Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance features five different playable characters to choose from, each offering different dialogue and slightly altered storylines. Each character offers different characteristics and fighting style, which is supported with some solid (although often overacted) voice overs that generally fit the character’s appearance personality. Upon choosing one of the characters, you are pitted into a cutscene which shows each of the skilled fighters walking together in a group, on their way to an assignment that had been given to them by their boss, Zanetti, who runs a brutal yet wealthy gang operation throughout the fictional city of Las Sombras. Your group soon arrives at a large warehouse where a planned drug deal was to take place, however, the scene that greets you upon opening the warehouse doors isn’t too pleasant. It appears that the deal hasn’t quite gone to plan, as a large group of gangsters are laying dead everywhere. After a small disagreement between your group, you are greeted by a number of fellow Zanetti gang members, led by a slick blond guy who you immediately want to belt due to his sly attitude. It appears that the gang no longer need your services, with the result being death for you and your small group. You are then sent through a short tutorial mode as you battle the horde of bloodthirsty gangsters, before making your escape into the wide open city.
Once on the streets, a mysterious citizen advises you to make your way to a local pub, appropriately known as The Hole. Once there, a criminal informant, who essentially becomes the key character to providing the game’s central chapters that form the overall storyline, gives you some pointers on which directions you should take to get your revenge on Zanetti. The bartender and pub owner also becomes quite useful with his additional side quests, which essentially involve performing a range of shifty underground operations that involve such things as aiding an ex-boxer to get revenge on a gangster who broke both his arms. These side quests can yield substantial funds that aid in purchasing drinks at the pub to replenish your health (and if you aren’t careful, eventually make you drunk) and to also purchase additional clothing to briefly hide your identity from local gangs and the police.
One of the key problems with Beat Down is its bland fighting system. While an assortment of punches, kicks, combos and weapons can be used to belt your opponents, the actual execution of the fighting engine is surprisingly limited. Despite the availability of upgrading your fighting skills in the area of Stamina, Attack and Technique, and also adding new combos to your small library of moves, the variation between each of the battles that you will encounter is surprisingly limited. Controlling your character feels quite stiff, with many of the motions often feeling sluggish and lifeless. This results in a large majority of your fights being extremely similar to the one before it.
Since the game is focused largely on the dirty underground happenings of gangs, your missions will revolve around locating people, beating them to a pulp and then gathering whatever money you can find. Occasionally, you will incur boss battles, which essentially involves using the same bland moves that you usually use to belt the various thugs that you locate on the streets, however, the boss battles offer slightly more challenge. To aid you in your revengeful quest, you can recruit people of your choice to join your own personal gang. Recruiting members simply involves fighting people until their health is low, then shaking them violently until they agree to join your side. At any one time, you can have two different people following you, with the other members of your gang remaining on standby until you phone them to join you on your crusade. Your gang members are essentially your own personal bodyguards, aiding you in any fights that you encounter on the streets.
There is also a multiplayer mode, however, it offers virtually no lifetime as the battles are essentially identical to those found in the single player experience, however, you can verse a friend using the game’s poor fighting system. Why you would bother using Beat Down’s multiplayer mode is beyond us, as there are plenty of other worthwhile multiplayer fighters currently available on the market.
The visuals in Beat Down are similar to the game’s fighting engine; bland and uninviting. While the game does manage to give the appearance of dirty and gritty city areas, the scenery in which you find yourself in offer limited detail with little variation between the various areas of the city. The characters also offer limited, blurry detail, although the inclusion of body damage, such as bloody noses and mouths after taking a number of hits, add a nice little visual addition. The ability to change your clothing and to even get plastic surgery to fix your face after it has been mutilated from too many blows is also a nice addition.
The game’s soundtrack offers a mixture of heavy metal and rap, although, the small collection of tracks results in the in-game music quickly becoming irritating as you are forced to hear the same song too often.
While the game started out with good, unique intentions, none of the game’s features are correctly executed. The fighting system, for example, is the core gameplay element, however, Capcom has simply failed to correctly build a solid and successful fighting system that correctly supplements the storyline. Every other aspect of the game is also disappointing, making Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance a purchase only for those look for a casual, simplistic game.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.