Anticipation Station: Fighting Games

Anticipation Station:
Fighting Games


Louis Bedigian



I don’t think any gamer
alive in the 80s or early 90s will forget what it means to anticipate a new
fighting game.  You’d hear about them from your friends, read about them in
magazines, and check the nearest arcade for them every week.  I’m sure some of
you checked every day.  I myself spent countless hours searching for that one
special game.  That one special game’s sequel.  And that one special game that
kicked that other one special game’s butt.


As frustrating as the search
may have been, it was always worth the time.  It’s sort of like deer hunting. 
Not the game but real deer hunting.  You sit there for hours, anticipating
something wonderful.  Finally you see it!  The new Street Fighter!  Mortal
Kombat!  Tekken!  Dead or Alive!  They’re so beautiful!


You’ve got your kill. 
You’re eatin’ good for weeks to come.


Things are different these
days.  When a new fighter comes out, you don’t go searching for it, you drive
to the nearest game shop and pick it up.  Or you can order it online and have
it sent directly to your home.  Can you believe that?  New fighting games and
you don’t even have to get out of bed to buy them or to play them.


All this talk and
reminiscing takes me back to the Electronic Entertainment Expo.  It makes me a
little teary-eyed, too.  I mean I was there standing right next to kiosks! 
Kiosks with games in them like Mortal Kombat: Shaolin
, Soul Calibur III and Sony’s PSP-exclusive,
The Con


(Wipes eyes; holds an
Academy Award-worthy pose.)  I must be strong.  I can do this, I can wait!  We
can anticipate the future of fighting games together!


Soul Calibur III (PS2)


Why it’s intriguing:

Soul Calibur II + new fighters (and hopefully several new moves).  Sharp
graphics, a deep soundtrack, lightning-quick gameplay and a remarkable cast
are just a few of the reasons to get excited.

Why you’ll love it:

Mortal Kombat had "Ultimate" and "Trilogy" iterations that maximized the
character lineup before big gameplay changes were to be made.  Tekken did the
same thing with Tekken Tag Tournament.  Thus far Soul Calibur III seems to be
moving in that direction.  This version will include more fighters than any SC
before it, destructible pavement (stomp on cement for extra eye candy), and a
time-consuming single-player mode that’ll attract gamers even when they can’t
play with their buds.  The gameplay formula hasn’t been messed with, ensuring
a smooth and seamless fighting game experience.  New characters like Tira give
hardcore fans additional moves to master, both when playing as her and when
playing against her.

What could be improved:

The camera and character position should be tweaked a little.  It’s
frustrating when you knock someone into the air and the following attack fails
to connect.  "That’s part of the challenge!"  Yeah, maybe.  But there are
times when even the most skilled Soul Calibur players can’t complete a juggle
because of the camera and character position issues.  They’re minor flaws, but
they’re one of the many things the developers need to evaluate as they enter
the next generation.



I said go through the hoop! 
Not beside it, through!  


Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (PS2)

Also on:



Why it’s intriguing:

Mortal Kombat’s third venture into the world of single-player adventuring.  We
don’t want this one to break the mold – we want Shaolin Monks to wrap up the
mold, stick it in a plastic bag, and put it outside on garbage day.

Why you’ll love it: Play against
computer-controlled enemies alone, or plug in a second controller and take the
journey with a friend!  That’s a new level for the Mortal Kombat series. 
Prior to this two-player battles were a deathmatch.  Now we have a shot at
true co-op.  In addition to that I hear the game is going to have action-based
puzzles.  I’m not sure what exactly that means, but you could surmise that
these puzzles will be easy to solve, but hard to do so quickly (hence the
"action" element).  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a mini-game or two pop
up in the final version.

What could be improved:

I didn’t get to play it at E3 (rotten security guards!  I was merely trying to
pull Scorpion’s classic "Get over here!" move, not yank the demo out of the
kiosk.  Honest!).  But from what I’ve seen the graphics could use an extra
coat of paint just to ensure the game is on par with everything else being
released this Christmas.  I’m sure Midway’s already taking care of that –
graphics aren’t something gamers have had to be concerned with when it comes
to the MK series.  I am curious though how the multi-character fighting will
work.  Will it be like Prince of Persia?  I hope not.  PoP is great, but
Shaolin Monks needs to make a name for itself, not copy something else. 


Will Scorpion ever stop playing with fire?  You’d
think he would’ve grown out of that phase by now.  Come ‘on man, it’s been
more than 10 years!  Get a hobby or something.



Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)


Why it’s intriguing:

The next chapter in the Dead or Alive series designed exclusively for Xbox
360, playable exclusively over Xbox Live.

Why you’ll love it:

Dead or Alive is the fastest punch-punch-kick series in the world.  It showed
me and thousands of other gamers the importance of reversing attacks, whether
they’re extremely advanced, intermediate, or the most basic moves in the
game.  Dead or Alive 4 will undoubtedly do the same, albeit with better
backgrounds, more interaction between the environments, and a superior graphic
engine that renders characters to match the quality of other Xbox 360 launch
titles.  (Dead or Alive 4 hasn’t been confirmed for launch, but I’m keeping my
fingers crossed.)  New combo moves haven’t been unveiled, which isn’t
surprising considering who the developer is.  Team Ninja waited until the very
last minute to unveil gameplay shots of Ninja Gaiden – why spoil any surprises
they might have in store for Dead or Alive 4?

What could be improved:

Is it time to evolve?  Is it time to branch out?  In terms of innovation, the
Dead or Alive series has made baby step progress over the past eight or nine
years.  The next step would be to create a more in-depth combo and reversal
system (unique reversals for every kick and punch).  That’d be a massive
undertaking, but look at Ninja Gaiden’s combat system.  If anyone can add
innovation to an old game and an old genre, it’s these guys.




Urban Reign (PS2)


Why it’s intriguing:

A new fighting game from the studio that brought us Tekken and Soul Calibur? 
Sign me up!

Why you could love
Urban Reign
came across as a very simple and straight-forward fighting game at E3.  This
is a street fighter, which means that all the battles take place in sleazy,
poorly lit areas.  It also means that non-weapons (like baseball bats) can be
picked up and used against thugs who expected to get a fist in the face. 
Real-world objects are advantageous to the swift fighter (slam your adversary
into them!), and if you liked Tekken 4’s eight-way run you’ll be pleased to
know that Urban Reign uses the exact same control style.  Graphically the game
is nearly on par with the Soul Calibur series with complicated character
models and Tekken-quality animation.

What could be improved:

The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the fact that you currently have
one attack button.  The rest of the buttons are used for picking up weapons,
grab moves, etc.  It was also a bit strange to see Tekken character moves
being performed by street fighters.  Isn’t this supposed to be a different
kind of fighting game?  I’m hoping that what was good about the demo stays,
and that the Eddy Gordo clone is one of many different fighters.  Maybe
there’s a hidden reason for this clone, a story link that will lead the way
for Tekken 5.  That’d be awesome.



If boots were made for
walking, these shoes must’ve been made for kicking.



The Con (PSP)


Why it’s intriguing:

With a name like The Con it has to be good.  Actually that’s Smucker’s.  But
it’s true here as well.  One look at the game and its unique perspective on
street fighting and you’ll be as giddy as the dog in the Beggin Strips

Why you’ll love it:

The Con’s fighting engine rocks.  It’s rock-solid and comes packed with a
mountain of moves, all of which are executed from a third-person,
over-the-shoulder view.  This original view gives the player unprecedented
evasion capabilities, like ducking punches, things that only boxing games have
tried to implement.  The Con is currently a PSP exclusive (you’ll never see it
on a competitor’s console, but I wouldn’t rule out a PS3 adaptation).  As
such, the single-player stages will have a lot more depth than the average
fighting game.

What could be improved:

Too early to tell.  It’s not going to be easy to keep the fighting engine
going for a long time, which could mean The Con will have a very short quest. 
That’s okay for a fighter, but what about multiplayer replay value?  If the
move list is as high as it appears to be, and if there are more evasive moves
than what we’ve seen thus far, The Con could turn out to be the year’s hottest
handheld fighter.



The Con is destined to “KO” the competition when it’s



Mortal Kombat: Deception (PSP)


Why it’s intriguing:

The best PS2 Mortal Kombat game on the best handheld system.

Why you’ll love it:

From extensive combos to bone-crunching fatalities, Mortal Kombat: Deception
had more keys to memorize than any MK before it.  Each character has three
fighting styles; changing the style mid-combo changes the combo (and attack
style) you’re performing.  The 3D walk/run/jump controls were excellent on
PS2, the best yet for a 3D fighter.  Seeing how powerful the PSP is, this
version should be no different.

What could be improved:

Scrap the lengthy single-player quest and replace it with something that has a
lot more action.  Gamers want to get in, fight, and get out.  That’s the kind
of gameplay handheld fighters need to provide.  It also couldn’t hurt to have
most of the fighters unlocked from the start of the game.


No images have been released
for this version of the game.