Now that the slow summer months have almost passed, the number of new
games hitting stores is steadily growing. On August 31st, Capcom is
releasing Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance, and I was recently able to
spend some time with a preview version of the game. While it may first
seem like a run of the mill brawler, its branching storylines,
character interaction, and diverse objectives make it a game that
might be worth checking out.
Fists of Vengeance takes place in the fictional city of Las Sombras,
which is being overrun by the criminal underworld. Zanetti, the most
powerful person in Las Sombras learns of a rival clan's drug deal, and
dispatches five of his top mercenaries from his inner circle to
intervene. When they arrive on the scene, they find their targets have
already been executed and they are ambushed by members of their own
cartel. Outnumbered and pursued by both their previous cartel and law
enforcement officials, the five go their separate ways and begin their
quest for vengeance.
Fists of Vengeance has five playable characters, each with their own
unique endings and their own clichéd back story:
Raven – a rough and tumble rebel with a short fuse and penchant
Jason G – an orphan whose second nature is fighting for
survival and places high value on his friends.
Gina – a stunningly beautiful assassin who's been scorned by a
secret lover and is out for revenge.
Lola – a professionally trained assassin from South America
with a strong military background.
Aaron – the Machiavellian bastard love child of Zanetti, the
head of the most powerful cartel in Las Sombras.
Using the character Raven, the game starts with a short warehouse
level where you learn the basic moves. The standard beat'em up
controls – punches, kicks, and blocking are all done with the face
buttons, and R1 grabs an enemy. You can use either the analog or
d-pad, and you might want to use a combination of both, depending on
the situation. When you're fighting head to hear with someone, the
d-pad works the best, because the camera swings down lower and moves
to the side, like a traditional fighting game. The game controls well,
but the camera can be a chore to maneuver. It also tends to get behind
objects when in the "fighting game" view, and even though the objects
it gets behind are translucent, it's distracting.
You can pick up weapons lying on the ground, or disarm foes and use
their own weapons against them. After you knock someone out, you can
check the body and take their money, which will later be used to
upgrade moves, buy clothes, and bribe people. The environments aren't
fully destructible, but some things, like glass, crates, and other
small surrounding objects can be smashed – sometimes revealing health
Since you're taking on a whole cartel, it's important to recruit some
backup. After exiting the warehouse, you can talk with various people
outside a gas station. If you want to, you can rob them, or you can
try and get them to join you. Some will join if you simply ask, while
others demand money. The stubborn ones have to be beaten a little bit
before deciding to help the cause, so you've got to challenge them to
a fight. If you befriend the right people you can gain access to cars,
money, connections and more, so it's not always best to start brawling
After getting a group of people together, Raven heads downtown where
he's immediately jumped by a large number of goons. Later, at the bar
that you'll use as a base, you learn that your clothes gave you away
as a member of a gang. Changing your clothes (there are clothing
stores) will actually have an effect on how easily people recognize
you – kind of like the different camouflage in Metal Gear Solid 3. At
the bar you can learn new moves, get information on your rivals and
recharge your health. Your new informant sends you to the Police
Station where you run across corrupt cops, and end up getting locked
up. You do end up escaping from jail, after beating up an overzealous
warden, and that's where the demo ends.
In addition to the single-player story mode, Fists of Vengeance
includes a couple of vs. modes. In Vs. Mode Normal you can battle
against characters in the game, and Vs. Custom Mode allows you to
battle with edited characters in your own customized team. You can
then also store your custom team on a memory card to pit them against
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance hasn't gotten a whole lot of press, but
it's shaping up to be a pretty entertaining game. It's only $39.99,
has a lot more depth than your average brawler, moves along at a fast
pace, and doesn't take itself too seriously. We'll have a review of
the game later this month, so check back for the verdict.