|In 1997 Eidos and Crave Entertainment got together and created
Fighting Force for the PlayStation. In 1997 it was pretty cool. It had Tomb Raider-like
environments and two player cooperative action that hadn't been seen since Double Dragon.
It was a little slow and clumsy, but the highly interactive environments made it worth
playing. Flash forward to May of 1999. After years of delays, Fighting Force 64 finally
makes it to the shelves. It is almost identical to the PlayStation version. In fact, it
might even be a little slower and clumsier. Fighting Force 64 is a short, disappointing
trip down memory lane; some games age gracefully (Mario 64 is as cool as ever) and some
are all pruney before you can get them out of the box.
Graphically Fighting Force 64 is weak. It flaunts its 3D as if that is the only thing that matters. The characters are fuzzy, chunky, and repetitive. The environments fare slightly better; they too are repetitive but offer enough interactivity to make them livable instead of laughable. I found myself far more interested in smashing up the walls, machines, boxes, and vending machines than the bad guys. Fighting Force 64 is missing the notorious Nintendo fog, but it is also missing the diversity and complexity of scenery that made Tomb Raider a smashing success. I only make this unfair comparison to Tomb Raider because Fighting Force 64's box repeatedly brags that it is from the makers of Tomb Raider. It just goes to show you that it's not who makes a game, but how they made it.
The game play is the best part of Fighting Force 64; it offers interactivity with the environments, 2 player cooperative gameplay, individualized fighting moves as well as special moves and weapons. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Interactivity means slide or smash, not that there's anything wrong with smashing things, but this has been done before. On one of Fighting Force 64's beginning levels you have that chance to smash the crap out of a van, and all I could think of was Street Fighter on the Super Nintendo; after one of those matches you had the chance to kick a car to pieces. In Street Fighter's version of the demolition, the car showed the damage it took and was divided into damage areas. In Fighting Force 64 I stood in front of this van and struck away with an iron bar, but it showed no damage until it blew up. The two player cooperative mode was also a bust because it was nearly impossible to play. The camera always favors one of the characters, leaving the other usually behind a pole or other sight-impeding object. The already slow game almost grinds to a halt when the two characters start getting it on with a gang of baddies.
The fighting system is pretty complex for an action game. This would be cool if there were more than one move that rules the game, jump kick. There are only two "bosses" in the entire game, so most of your time is spent fighting up to six characters at once. Throws and combos are impractical because they require you to stand in one spot long enough to get pummeled from behind. Special moves drain your energy and failed to produce any worthwhile results. I stuck with the run and jump kick and run and slide kick which kept me away from the clot of bungling bad guys. Bad guys often bring guns and bats with them, and it is easy to disarm them and acquire their weapons, though only one at a time. Guns quickly run out of ammo and there is none to be found, but that's alright. Throwing a gun causes just as much damage as shooting it. Bats and bars also make for great temporary weapons, but after a few whacks they mysteriously disappear.
Like the rest of the game, the story line is poorly thought out and overly simple. Evil Dr. Zeng is going to end the world and "you" as one of the four characters must stop him. That's it, just keep walking and whoopin' ass and two hours later you've beaten that game and foiled Evil Dr. Zang's plot. Wave after wave of bad guys that all fight and mostly look the same is what this game is all about. It felt like the all-time longest session of force mode from Tekken III, this time without cool characters or cool moves to play.
Save your money and avoid this stinker. Don't rent it because it won't even take half the evening to beat. But there is some good news among this crap. Crave is looking to release Fighting Force 2 for the PlayStation in November. It is said to look and play a lot like Syphon Filter with moody environments, real-time lighting effects, zoomable sniper rifle, and over 50 unique enemies. They also plan on in-depth enemy behavior both for individuals as well as for a group. For instance one guy may run away from a fight, but he gets truly furious with his pals behind him. Maybe with Fighting Force II Nintendo 64 fans won't have to wait for years until they get the chance to see what the game is all about. As for Fighting Force 64, the game was definitely not worth the wait.