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It seems I can never get enough fighting game action. Coming off of a year chock full of stellar titles and 2003 already looking bright it's a great time be a fan of arcade style one on one action.
For the first time the Bloody Roar series comes to XBox, and although it's improvements over the Cube version are only noticeable by it's hardcore fans, it has once again stolen many hours of my life. Fast paced, arcade style gameplay and simplistic controls make BR Extreme a must have for fighting game junkie like myself. Of course the $29.99 price tag certainly doesn't hurt, but enough small talk let's get down to business!
Walk Like A Man For those uninitiated Bloody Roar is actually a veteran in the fighting category. First appearing on the PSX in 1997 the series has come along way and developed a cult following amongst fighting enthusiasts. What set the game apart from other fighters was the ability to morph into a beast while fighting. While in beast form your health replenishes and you can perform special attacks not to mention looking hella cool! The fighting system is simple yet effective, one kick and one punch button round out the basic attacks while the B button is used to morph into your Zoanthrope. The frantic pace of the game is what drew gamers in originally and I am happy to say that BRE hasn't lost it's touch one bit. Executing multiple hit combos is a cinch and flash is abundant. While the system may seem simple experienced players can still kick your ass with ease. BRE takes fighting games back to the arcade days of timing and the traditional paper, rock, scissors style that fighters used to adorn.
Look Ma A Clean Pause Screen! When BR3 (what BRE and BRPF for the Cube is based on) was originally released on the PS2 it wasn't all that pretty. Jaggies and iffy frame rate plagued what was otherwise a solid arcade brawler. When Primal Fury came out on Cube Hudson went the extra mile to make it run super smooth as well as upping the character poly counts. BRE, while not as large a leap as PF, definitely improves upon it's core game engine. Never dropping below 60 FPS and even throwing a few XBox touches such as reflections and bump mapping make the game look even more polished than ever before. The models look identical to those found in the Cube version but to be honest they looked great so I cannot complain. The stages are the only downside to BRE. While very lively and vibrant they lack a certain sense of freedom and feel confined most of the time. I do like the breakable barriers ala Virtua Fighter I just wish they were a tad larger.
Hair Metal Rulez... Do you know what I loved most about arcade brawlers? The music, it was fast, energetic, and damn catchy. How many of you still remember the themes from MK and SF? I know I do and they sound just as good today as they did ten years ago. BRE's music is very reminiscent of old school brawlers, it is loaded with whaling guitars and synthesizers that just make you wanna headbang. The voice overs on the other hand will make you wish Hudson had left the Japanese track intact when localizing this game. The lines range from annoying to downright detestable. The effects are pretty standard for an arcade brawler but the ambience is excellent for instance when playing on the street stage you can hear the cars all around you passing from left to right through a surround setup, and it sounds fantastic!
Lions, Tigers, And Chimera's...OH MY! On top of the "glued to your set" action that this game provides there is actually incentive to play it over and over. I can't help but feel cheated with today's fighting games not offering you any rewards for playing them other than mastering them. Sure I play to become the best but is it really that damn hard to throw in endings or even extra characters for the fans?? Hudson has graced us with new CGI endings, although completely identical to those found in PF the extra effort is appreciated. There are also hidden characters and cheats that can be unlocked via the single player game. Your standard modes are all present survival, arcade, versus, the always appreciated COM battle, and of course training. What makes BRE so much fun though is definitely multi-player. Fighting games are designed to be played with friends and BRE's simplicity and catering to novice players as well as veterans is greatly appreciated.
Lots Of Bang For Your Buck! I could write pages on fighting game when I review them but alas I get the urge to play more while writing. Most reviewers hated this game, in fact last time I checked it was rated almost as bad as Kakuto Chojin. It seems "professional journalists" have forgotten what makes games good these days and that is managing to be rewarding as well as fun. Just because BRE doesn't have 4 million moves, reversible combo guard breaking throw reversals they deem it mediocre. What BRE does is deliver a fast paced brawler in the spirit of classic arcade fighters. Sure if you already own the Cube version this may not warrant a purchase but for those starving XBox fighting game fans this game delivers hours of pure unadulterated bliss. Another great fighting game for XBox has arrived and I highly suggest you give it a spin! Highly recommended!
GameDiscovery.com : Xbox : Bloody Roar Extreme Review : Fighting