When the PSX first hit the streets, it seemed like fighting games were going to be the games of choice for most gamers. This led to the release of a ton of fighting games. Some were good and others were, well, not so good. Recently the trend has moved away from fighting games, and consequently there have not been many new fighting games hitting the streets. However, it looks like the fighting arena could be making a resurgence, and this time Sony will be in the middle with Bloody Roar.
Bloody Roar is a 3D fighter, ala Tekken. The game packs in just about every option imaginable, and even some that you may not have imagined. The fighting is fast and action-packed, and it's simple to pick up a controller and start playing. The real selling point of the game is the morphing ability -- so read on to learn more. If the developers were hoping to make Bloody Roar a fighting game with a new twist, they were definitely successful.
Fighting games have become a dime a dozen. Nowadays you have to have something new, something inventive to make your game stand out from the rest. Knowing this, the creators of Bloody Roar have come up with a cool idea -- your character can morph into a beast during fights. When you morph, you will be stronger, faster, and have more attacks to help you rip your opponent to shreds. In a way, it reminds me of the old Genesis classic, Altered Beast, only it is a fighting game. Anyway, the morphing sheds some new light on the fighting arena. In the end, however, the gameplay isn't anything we haven't already seen before.
The morphing now makes each fighter, in essence, two different characters. This also let the developers design characters that somewhat resemble their beast counterparts, so when they transform, you can definitely see the connection. In a way, it is almost like there are 16 characters instead of 8. However, since you can only morph to the beast when your beast meter is high enough, it keeps you from staying in the beast form for the whole fight.
Since the morphing is such a big part of this game, the characters are very important and are obviously a huge part of the game. The 8 characters, both male and female, each have an altered ego that they can morph into. These beasts include a wolf, lion, mole, wild boar, tiger, rabbit, gorilla, and a fox. The idea is that the human character is much like the beast character. For example, the guy who morphs into the fox is said to be obsessed with things that are beautiful and hates everything ugly. The fox is supposed to symbolize beauty, so that is what he morphs into. The other characters follow the some idea.
Great, we know about the characters. That is all nice and dandy, but what really matters is the fighting engine and mechanics. The game uses a fairly simple fighting engine which requires single button pushes or double button pushes, and a direction to pull of the basic moves. That means that even an inexperienced player can start mashing some buttons and win a few games. For the more seasoned fighting vet, there are some more complex moves that can be pulled off that take much more practice and timing. I guess what it all amounts to is that you don't have to memorize every little button combo to be competitive, which is a plus in my book. With as many fighting games that I see, it is hard enough to remember simple actions, let alone a 5-stroke combo.
With a name like Bloody Roar, I was expecting some serious gore. I figured there would be more red on the screen than most people could handle. To my surprise, this was not the case. Well, that is not entirely true. At times, there was blood flying all over, but not always. It seems that when you were in your standard human form, the game was very much like a traditional 3D fighter. No blood or ripping of organs. When you morphed to beast, it was a whole new ballgame. Since you were a beast, it was only expected that the blood would be flowing. Some beasts had claws that would rip across the chest of the opponent causing blood to pump out the open wound. Other beasts would grab their opponent in their mouth and thrash them from side to side with blood gushing out of the victim. There is a setting to shut the blood off if you have a weak stomach. I was just impressed with how they incorporated the blood into the game only when you were a beast.
One last thing that I liked about the game was that when you would make it through the arcade mode, it would unlock different bonus items. Each character unlocked something different that would affect the game. The cool thing about it was that most of the bonuses that were unlocked were nothing major but just need little settings in the game. For example, you would unlock a mode that would turn off the life meter for both fighters so you did not know how much longer you or your opponent had left. This just was a nice little added touch.
I have a couple of minor complaints about the game. First, the fighting engine is pretty much standard fare for 3D fighters. Sure, you can morph and that adds to the game a bit, but the basic game mechanics and feel are nothing new. Next, I did not like when there was a KO because the screen would slip into slow motion and the background would change. For some reason, the slow motion thing just really annoyed me. It may have been because the game played pretty fast and when you hit the knockout blow, I did not want to see it happen in slow motion. The last thing that bothered me was that the camera angle on the KO replays was always terrible. Most of the time you could not tell what was happening in the replay because of the poor positioning of the camera. I know this really does not affect the gameplay, but it was still a bit annoying.
Bloody Roar has pretty good 3D polygon graphics. There were some times when the characters looked a bit blocky, but for the most part they looked good. The morphing to beasts was seamless and also looked good and did not seem to cause any noticeable slowdown. The different fighting arenas and backgrounds also were nicely drawn. I really did not like the way that the game slowed on a KO. At first, I thought it was a graphics problem, but later realized it was done intentionally. Bad idea.
If you are a die-hard fighter fan and must own every fighting game made, you should be fairly satisfied with this game. For the casual fighting fan like myself, you will find the game entertaining but nothing revolutionary. Sure, the morphing was a great idea and worked really well, but it just did not change the fact that it was a pretty standard fighting game at heart.
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