|Time and again, companies have
come back to this ever-popular format to find new ways of convincing us fighting fanatics
to part with our hard-earned money. After all, who doesnt love a little mano-a-mano
mayhem every once in a while? I must admit that Im an addict when it comes time to
duking it out, but I also know that my tastes have become fairly refined in my years as an
armchair contender. Ive become picky about which games earn the right to become part
of my collection. So when Fighter Destiny 2 came out, I was hoping for some great
innovations on the fighting frontier to knock my socks off. Well, my socks are still on at
Fighter Destiny 2 lets you play eleven beginning characters with the ability to use five more after you have beaten them in combat. The characters include everything from a Ninja to a leather-clad dominatrix, with a fifteenth-century Spanish nobleman thrown in for good measure. One character even reminded me of Charo from the Love Boat. You can play against the computer or a friend, can take advantage of three different types of skill challenges in Record Attack mode, can learn your fighters special moves in the training mode, or play a type of boardgame designed for those who dont work and play well with others in the Fighters Arena mode. FD2 is set up like a karate match, with one point awarded for tossing your opponent from the ring, two points for a throwdown, three for knockdowns and counters, and four for special moves, as well as a single point which is awarded by the judges to the most skillful fighter when the time-clock runs out. A health meter is used to show when you or your opponent is vulnerable (called a "Piyori" state), and the screen is rounded out by an escape indicator, which appears when a character has attempted to grapple and throw their opponent. This tells the intended victim how long they have to try and counter or escape the hold.
The Record Attack mode has survival, speed, and rodeo mode, which are ring fights with alternative goals than the versus modes. The Fighters Arena is basically an attempt to give the game greater longevity by setting up a boardgame which has fight sequences at specific spaces and which allows the fighter to gain points which increase their skills. The dialogue before and after each round is inane, however, and the fights arent different enough from versus mode to make them interesting. I also couldnt really notice much change in the skill of my fighter after wading through this side attraction, so I dont see the benefit from including it.
The music quality vacillated between the "Fisher Price keyboard in the garage" sound to something which began to approximate the more complex, fully orchestrated scores that some of the other fighting games now employ. Sound effects were fairly repetitive, and after only half an hour I wanted to choke the announcer. Some of the characters had interesting tag lines or sound effects during the fighting sequences, but others were just annoying.
Visually, this game had one of the starkest contrasts Ive seen in a long time between the quality of background and the characters. The backgrounds were complex, unique scenes which were colorful, beautifully rendered, seemingly three-dimensional and smooth, while the characters lacked detail and were anything but smooth. I could have stared for hours at Fabians castle and Pierres Carnival with no thought whatsoever to what was happening to my character in the ring. Kudos to the team that did the scenery, but Im afraid such superb work accents the problems with character graphics.
As for movement, this is the place where the game really fell down for me. Weve established that Im incredibly picky when it comes to fighting games and FD2 just couldnt cut it in the fighting department. The controls were responsive and character speed varied with size and agility. However, the game contends that each character has a different fighting style. Though some characters have several obviously different moves (added to their special move), most are the same character to character. When I think of different styles, I think of the vastly different styles in games like Tekken, where we move from Kempo to Jeet Kun Do, and beyond. I also missed the fluidness from one move to another, and the real-body attention to how certain moves naturally flow together to create a dynamic attack. I found myself annoyed by the pause between moves and by the fact that combination moves had to be ones preprogrammed by the computer and not a product of my own inventiveness and fluidity.
On a related note, the game allows a side-stepping function which tries to add a three dimensional feel to a basically two dimensional game. This felt more limiting in the end than liberating, and the fighters attacks didnt really allow a logical way to take full advantage of this function. The shift was slow and small enough that the camera didnt really have any difficulty making incremental adjustments with the characters, but it also didnt give the depth to the game that true 3D fighting does. Im almost at the point now where I would rather have either a 2D or a true 3D fighter than being teased with something in between.
One of the final points about the game that falls within a matter of preference is the fact that this game has lots of fairly silly moments and characters throughout. When one of the extra characters is named Mou the unstoppable cow (and whose special attack looks like a cross between something that is illegal in most states and human milking), you start to get an idea that the laugh factor may have been aimed at a slightly younger audience. I realize that even the most serious fighters out there still include a certain amount of silliness, but this game really seems to revel in it.
Perhaps this game is one which would be great for those who are just cutting their teeth on fighters, who are looking for a degree of sophistication slightly lower than yours truly, or who have a higher tolerance for silliness. But with so many excellent fighting games out there, I have to wonder why we should bother with a fighter which doesnt have the longevity of an icecube in the Sahara. It could be that Ive gotten spoiled by other fighting games, but I guess I have to say, in the spirit of Mrs. Lovey Howell, "Im not picky. I just want the best, dahhhling!"