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Review: Fight'N Rage (PC)By Gabriel PVJ Jones At 05.10.2017 21:57

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Throughout the early to mid-90s, the beat 'em up genre enjoyed a "Golden Age". This was back when developers such as Capcom were firing on all cylinders, releasing numerous classics to both consoles and the arcades. However, a surprisingly large number of people view the genre with disdain. They claim that these side-scrolling brawlers are nothing more than cheaply designed quarter-munchers. It's an absurd opinion to hold, especially in this era of enlightenment. Beat 'em ups operate on a steep learning curve. In order for players to reach the end, without using continues, they need to learn the mechanics, exploit enemy behaviours, and manage difficult situations.

In all fairness, that's a lot to absorb. Also, arcade games aren't known for being merciful. Mistakes frequently lead to lost credits. It doesn't help that most beat 'em ups released today don't quite capture what made the classics so memorable and entertaining. Most of the time they suffer from inadequate mechanics, poor design decisions, a lack of challenge, or they're simply not any fun to play. Suffice to say, games like Fight'N Rage don't come around very often. This beat 'em up is the total package. It has everything a fan of the Golden Age could ever ask for and more.

It all starts with the three main characters. They're perfectly designed for specific play styles. Ricardo is a mutant bull. Naturally he's the bruiser of the group. His brutal attacks more than make up for his lack of manoeuvrability. Conversely, Gal can move from one side of the screen to the other in a second. Her ability to close distance quickly is offset by her short reach. Also, she relies on complex combos in order to inflict serious damage on her foes. F. Norris is a ninja capable of unique mid-air attacks. He can deliver severe punishment on the ground as well, though he's also a little on the fragile side. Whatever the player's preference, they have to consider both the strengths and weaknesses of their hero.

In this game, there is not a single technique that can be ignored. Dash attacks are useful for closing gaps. Throws and flying kicks are necessary for crowd control. Special moves are invincible and can extend combos. At the same time, there is not a single technique that can be abused. Enemies can and will slap heroes out of the air, stuff their dash attacks, and break out of their throw attempts. Special moves, as useful as they are, are limited. In a mechanic that calls to mind Streets of Rage 3, players must wait for a gauge to fill, before they perform a special move, else they lose a small amount of health. In many cases, the better strategy is to pay attention to the enemy and what they're doing. Finding and capitalizing on openings will lead to fewer resources (health & lives) being exhausted.

When the player has the advantage, there's another aspect to consider, which is maximizing their score. This game features an overkill system. When an enemy is defeated, their lifeless corpse can be juggled with an extended combo. Provided their body never touches the ground, eventually it'll explode, netting the assailant 500 points. Additional bonuses are awarded at the end of a stage. At first, overkill seems like more trouble than its worth, but the points add up quickly. Extra lives are tied to score, further incentivizing the need to crush every adversary into dust.

Of course, there's far more to this game than juggling corpses for fun and profit. All of the enemies are aggressive, and try to surround the heroes at every opportunity. Furthermore, they know the exact range to attack from, in order to guarantee damage. In other words, if somebody is wielding a whip, they're always going to attack from afar. Every mutant is unique in both tactics and approach. They'll cover every angle, account for all possibilities, and use their superior numbers to wear down the heroes. The harder difficulties don't cheap out by having everyone hit harder. Instead, enemies become more skilled, and react more quickly to whatever the player tries to do.

Where the game really comes into its own is in how the player deals with these constant overwhelming scenarios. It's the tricky balance between offensive and defensive play that's so rewarding. Ideally, one has to have a "no damage" mind set. Health restoring apples and turkeys are pretty common, but not to the point where anyone can take serious beatings and still make it through. They have to play smart and safe, while using advanced techniques like the parry. Aside from being able to deflect any attack, parries also refill the special move gauge, allowing for a devastating counter. As useful as this move is, it requires a lot of practice to pull off consistently. In some cases, it's better to focus on crowd control moves to properly "herd" the opposition.

However, the harder difficulties can be frustrating in their own way. Certain enemies, such as the Doberman guards and hammer-wielding turtles, have a nasty habit of spamming their invincible moves. It's especially troublesome fighting two or more, since one or the other is guaranteed to perform that particular attack. The time limit also plays a factor in these prolonged fights. Time overs result in a lost life, putting added pressure on already tense situations. Perhaps that's to be expected when contending with the tougher settings, but sometimes the game just goes a tad too far.

In Fight'N Rage, reaching "The Boss" isn't a matter of running across a straight line. Throughout the course of the game, alternate paths will become available, taking the protagonists into different locations. Admittedly, some stages aren't all that fun. One involves riding a rather small raft and ends with a very annoying boss fight. Though enemies can be knocked into the water, the same holds true for the heroes. There are a ridiculous number of endings, many of which require more than one player to unlock. Thankfully, alongside couch coop, there's an unlockable option for AI partners. They aren't perfect, but they fulfil ending requirements and do a fair job at beating up foes.

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A few areas could also benefit from having extra health drops. For example, shortly after defeating the punk turtles, the heroes hop on a surfboard for an extended fight sequence. A lot of enemies are fought in a rather small area, and it culminates with a battle against a huge group of ninjas. An apple towards the end would go a long way. The same can be said for the first area of Death Island. This area is typically where players are introduced to the Muay Thai roosters. They're exceptionally tough, so an apple appearing after the first wave of them would be very helpful. Granted, the added food does sort of fly in the face of the "no damage" ideal, but it can also be considered a gift for experts. After all, when somebody's health is full, any food they pick up is worth extra points.

Provided the player isn't constantly losing and continuing, the average playthrough will take about 45-55 minutes. This is the ideal length for an arcade-style beat 'em up. Between the numerous routes, characters, and difficulty settings, the replay value is astonishingly high. Additional modes, such as score attack and training, give veterans more opportunities to strut their mastery of this game's mechanics.

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Final Score
Altogether, [i]Fight'N Rage[/i] is a superb effort. Very few throwbacks are fit to hold a candle to the classics of yesteryear, but this one admirably stands alongside. Every subsystem and game mechanic works wonderfully. The three playable characters are incredibly diverse and fun to play, while still retaining a simplistic three-button control setup. The multiple difficulties represent a challenge that grows with the player's skill. Even on the hardest setting, enemy stats aren't boosted to absurd levels, making every battle a slog. The ambitious routing system works quite well, giving every playthrough something new to look forward to.

8

/10

User Comments
#1 Azuardo - on 05.10.2017 at 21:58

Looks so good!

#2 Insanoflex - on 05.10.2017 at 23:53

i want


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