A Quick Look At Fighting Force 2

Clones. You can't live with 'em, you can't fight a global future war without 'em. Luckily, the Knackamiche Corporation is on hand to secretly develop a genetically modified super soldier from recycled body parts, mutated human DNA and left over Ginsters pasties. We can all sleep soundly in our beds tonight, safe in the knowledge that good old Knackamiche will be there to dispatch certain death should anyone start causing trouble. Unfortunately, the Si-Cops think human clones are a bad idea and they've unleashed special agent Hawk Manson to single-handedly destroy every computer, desk, mug, photocopier and calculator Knackamiche owns. Yay!
The Feng Shui was all wrong.
Fighting Force 2 has very little to do with the first Fighting Force game - a game that famously started life as a prototype for Streets of Rage 4. Sure it features a returning protagonist, but gone is the side-on viewpoint and traditional roaming beat 'em up gameplay; and in its place is a third person, over the shoulder camera angle and Tomb Raider-esque exploring and shooting. That Fighting Force 2 comes from Core Design and Eidos further increases the chances that it'll be likened to the Lara Croft adventures of the era, but where those games were (arguably) quite enjoyable, Fighting Force 2 is far from it.

Such a lovely sunset.
Assuming the role of the world's most well-groomed secret agent/vigilante Hawk Manson, Fighting Force 2 sees you running around a slew of uninspired, dull and cliched environments punching and kicking an uncountable number of nameless goons. You'll also be kicking the shit out of exploding office chairs, photocopiers, drinks machines and wall mounted telephones in order to encourage them to reveal their hidden weaponry and health packs that will aid you in your quest to shut down Knackamiche. Need more ammo? Just roundhouse that computer screen and you'll be furnished with a box of bullets. Low on health? Simply karate chop a telephone and a first aid kit shalt be thine reward. Makes you wonder why Knackamiche didn't put more research into concealment technology.
Perfect for making snow decahedrons. Yellow ones.
There are some pretty nice details in Fighting Force 2 that feel as if they should have been saved for a better base game, but they stand out as rare "oh, that's cool!" moments in a title that is virtually sleep inducing such is its 'by the numbers' design. For instance, when a door opens you are treated to a shaft of light that momentarily illuminates the area (think of the effect seen in Manx TT as you exit a tunnel); and when doors slam shut behind you the whole screen momentarily shakes. Elsewhere, there is some great real time lighting and the explosions are pretty good, while the water effects are some of the best I've seen in a Dreamcast game. Remember that section in Resident Evil Code Veronica where you have to walk around in waist high water that ripples and undulates beautifully? It's a bit like that, and you only see it on a few occasions throughout the game...but whoever programmed that effect - great job. 
A rare moment of excitement, sponsored by Cola.
Sadly, the rest of the game is anything but impressive. You literally run from one room to the next, kill all the baddies, pick up a key...and then rinse and repeat. Sometimes the enemies are armed and you can't escape being shot (multiple times, until you are dead), other times you open a door and as soon as you walk through it a drone gun fires and smashes you back from whence you came. Sometimes you'll see what you think is a health pack lying on the floor and run over to it, only to find that it was actually a mine and now you're lying dead in a ball of fire. Other times, you'll be surrounded by 4 enemies all punching you at the same time and you can't break the animation so you just get beaten to death...but other times the AI won't even react to your presence so you can just politely kick their heads in one by one. It's very inconsistent and makes the whole game feel somewhat unfinished.
Slabs of meat never looked so succulent.
The weapons on offer to the player can come in quite useful, with the shotgun and the mini-gun in particular dishing out high levels of damage to enemies and environments alike, but some weapons are more of a liability than a blessing. The grenades in particular present something of a hazard if you dare to deploy them, as it's nearly impossible to predict where they'll land. Once you throw them you can't see where they go, and invariably they end up bouncing improbably off a wall and landing right between your legs before exploding and blowing Manson's bollocks off. And on the subject of killing yourself inadvertently, simply landing on barrels will cause them to explode, and if there a few of them dotted around (who is leaving highly volatile barrels around in all of these games?!) then expect to be scraped off the wall.

There's a moderately interesting mechanic whereby you fill up a meter if you only use hand to hand combat to crack skulls, and once full a power glove (not the Nintendo one, sadly) is activated that also deals out crackles of electric death and enables Hawk to unleash a range of powerful combos. Ultimately though, it's never as efficient as just standing on the other side of a room and popping caps in fools as they just stand there oblivious, scratching their arses and waiting to be sent to silicon heaven (or hell, in the case of the zombies that pop up for some reason later in the game).
The Reddit comments had gone too far this time.
Fighting Force 2 saw a simultaneous release on both Dreamcast and PlayStation and you can clearly see that the game was designed to run on both systems while barely taking any advantage of the extra capabilities afforded by Sega's hardware. The game is far from being ugly, but the basic geometry of the levels and the repetitive, poorly-lit and generic locations scream 'last gen.' If this game was released today, the barebones nature of the options, the gameplay and the story would make it a sure fire contender for budget release status, but back in 2000 this was a full price retail game and I vaguely recall being somewhat disappointed by the lack of a two player mode or any real extras. Still, the main menu screen is quite nice in a bargain basement Blade Runner pyramid building kinda way.
Fighting Force 2 has lovely water ripples. Um.
There are far worse games available for the Dreamcast (see the recent 10 Worst Dreamcast Games article for further information), but Fighting Force 2 is not really something you should play if you want to be wowed. It is dull, repetitive and the controls are awkward to say the least. There are some nice details thrown into the mix and it does look quite nice at times (read: the water and lighting effects), but ultimately this is one to avoid.

1 comment:

Jos Keny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.