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PS2 Review - 'Bloody Roar 4'

by Hank on Dec. 12, 2003 @ 1:24 a.m. PST

Bloody Roar returns and is darker, bloodier and fiercer than ever! 14 returning fighters are joined by three brand-new characters in the newest battle of the beast-fighters. Transform into ferocious inner-beasts and attack with fangs and claws in 3D fighting areas to see who is the ultimate beast-fighter champion! Read more for the full review ...

Genre : Fighting
Developer: Hudson
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: November 11, 2003

Buy 'BLOODY ROAR 4': PlayStation 2

For some odd reason, game companies seem to have the same great idea at the same time. Whenever a title is released, it is almost inevitable that a host of coincidentally similar titles will hit the market shortly thereafter, hoping to outperform their competitors. Fighting games seem to be no exception to the rule, but due to the major successes of VF4: Evolution and Soul Calibur II, titles of comparable quality - like Konami's Bloody Roar 4 - must suffer the unjust fate of garnering less attention. Now we know how the neglected red-headed stepchild feels on trash night.

Bloody Roar 4, the second installment for the PS2, has gone through major improvements and several enhancements so it can try and compete with other major 3D fighting titles like Soul Calibur II and VF4. So how does Bloody Roar fare?

The first thing you will notice is that the game play is extremely fast. There is almost no lag time, and in that respect, it matches up with the other two franchises fairly well. One thing that definitely makes Bloody Roar stand out from the other titles is its battle system. Once you begin playing the game, you will understand its title. The game implements a human/beast fighting ability, and yes, there is lots of blood. Each character has two life bars: the beast life bar requires charging so the entire life bar isn't fixed. Rather it is very random but is crucial in obtaining the win. The life bar is charged up by several events: hitting the opponent, getting hit, and lastly, sacrificing some of your human life. The only way to actually defeat the opponent is to deplete them in their human form as well as in the beast. Once the opponent has lost all its life in human form, it will automatically revert to beast form, and vice versa. The only difference is that human life bar never heals, so protect it at all cost. In order to do that, you should use your beast form as much as possible, a tactic which I picked up from the computer. You will understand what I mean once you play stage 4 in arcade mode.

The modes available for play are: arcade, time attack, versus, training, sparring, survival, com battle, and career. There isn't really a primary mode that this game focuses on, but you may consider career as the mode that might have more precedence over the others because within this mode, you can unlock items. There isn't really a backstory about how these characters came to be or why they are fighting against each other. You just go through a maze of battles with no real goal. What I mean by maze is that you must actually find your way to the battles, and you cannot scroll through the map to see other places that you must go. This drawback aside, the "maze" is very similar to FFX's spherical grid. Once you find them, the battles are straightforward and nothing like Soul Calibur II's story mode, where there were some alternate storylines.

The sole purpose of Bloody Roar is to beat the living daylights out of the other fighter. Even though the goal seemed like it would be fairly repetitive, I actually found myself enjoying the game. This may be due to the blood or the speed of the game, or it may even be the strategy that is behind the game. Fighter games can be fought with a lot of strategy, but I just mash the living daylights out of my controller buttons. Strategy can ensure that you achieve victory more often, but it also requires you to thoroughly understand the game. The game's dependence upon fighting strategy is apparent when you fight the AI in arcade mode, and it constantly changes to beast mode so that it will rarely lose health in human form. The AI also blocks your attacks, and let me just say that the game's blocking ability is probably one of the features that reigns supreme over the other titles. The game has two types of blocking: normal blocking or dodging the attack, and while they are nowhere near the caliber of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, they work well in this game. Pulling off these blocks doesn't require some insane motions or button combinations, but it's really simple and supposedly easy to pull off, other than maybe the block attack. I'm not good at blocking so I can say otherwise, but that may be because I like to attack continuously.

Each character has their own set of attacks and has approximately 18 moves at his disposal. Mixing these up and executing the longer moves makes defeating the opponent an easier task. Some of these moves have an extremely long button combination and are rarely used in battle, but if you are extremely good, I'm sure you will manage. Within these 18 moves, there are special moves, or what I call supers, like beast drives, which deal massive damage but require that you land the first hit of the super on your opponent, or it will not execute. Regardless of whether or not you have hit the opponent, you will revert back to human form unless you are in hyper beast mode. Remember when I said there was three ways to charge up your beast mode? The third method, holding down the O button, takes away your human life but charges up hyper beast mode. Once this mode is full, you will be able to execute your beast drive as many times as you like without reverting back to human form until the mode runs out. If you are good, you can execute beast drive after beast drive and eventually finish off your opponent in a matter of seconds.

When you finish off the opponent, don't expect them to leave the stage quietly. When the character dies, they will let out a long and sometimes irritating last cry. This may be because the voices in the game do not match the characters at all. It would seem that they just hired a random cast and weren't particular about the voices matching the characters. I wish they had kept the original language since the game's voices are way too unnatural, and you can't help but skip every sequence if possible. Unlike Soul Calibur, where you can change the language, you must deal with the English dialogue for the entirety of this game. The good thing is that they don't have that many war cries in battle so you can enjoy the music they have on each level. The music fits the stage most the time, a very upbeat melody that keeps you occupied while you are fighting. On some stages, though, I would feel different music would have been more appropriate, but overall, a great soundtrack.

Each level has its own special graphical detail. In a sense, it can be considered similar to VF4, where at the beginning you get a lovely view of the stage, but for Bloody Roar, it is for a much shorter amount of time. The stage graphics are very well done, and the only downside is that you don't really get to observe the entire background because the ring has invisible barriers that prevent you from going further in the stage. You may be able to break them, but I'm not completely certain that it can be done while the round is still going. The only time I've been successful is when the round is over, and I dealt an extremely devastating blow to the opponent and sent them clear across the screen. When these characters bust out their more impressive moves, it is really quite enjoyable to see. I didn't know humans had so much blood within them. The character models are extremely detailed and so well done that it is quite entertaining to sit back and watch two CPU opponents battle it out in CPU battle mode.

This is definitely one of the games that many will unfortunately miss out on, but I strongly suggest that you try it out. It's got really detailed graphics, a good music track, and the game loads quickly. The only downsides are the lack of a storyline, which is strongly needed, and the original Japanese voice track. I would consider this game as a sleeper that still has room for improvement. The fighting is quite enjoyable, and the controls are really easy to pick up. Give this game a shot. Who knows? It might be your next favorite fighting game.

Score: 8.6/10

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