Bloody Roar has never been one of the great games in the 3D Beat’em-up genre. Tekken, Soul Caliber and Dead or Alive dominate the scene, and soon you’ll be able to add Virtua Fighter to this list (again). Besides these, you needed 20/20 vision to find some really good games.
So does Bloody Roar 3 have something the rest doesn’t have? Yes, actually, but it isn’t up everybody’s alley. If you enjoy the subtler work, you’d be better off leaving Bloody Roar 3 for what it is, because the game borrows a lot from wrestling games, combined with sharper claws and teeth – it doesn’t have the fine punch-and-sweep action of titles like Virtua Fighter.
Move over Werewolf, here comes the Werebunny!
In the ancient Beat’em-up tradition, the story is too cheesy for words. It’s all about the Zoanthropes; these are normal looking people who can transform into a unique type of animal. So basically they’re were-creatures. In the previous parts they fought for self-preservation and recognition; now they’re fighting more amongst each other. Several Zoanthropes suddenly have “Crests” on their body. These Crests give them even greater power, but they greatly reduce their life span. So the Zoanthropes are dropping like flies, and some of them try to find the cause of this epidemic. The mysterious Xion seems to have something to do with it, and something funny is going on with Uriko, the half-beast…
Some old faces, some new
You start the game with a choice of twelve warriors, including some familiar faces from the previous parts. Yugo is the game’s Ryo, followed by “evergreen” characters Alice (the rabbit) and Gado (the lion). Several new characters have been added, like Uriko (the half-beast), Bakuyuru (the mole) and Xion (the unborn). Of course, all the fighters have their own unique moves and abilities. And although moves like Yugo’s and Gado’s seem to have been copied from other Beat’em-ups, characters like Jenny and Bakuyuru have their own special style.
The “Beast Charge” is the series’ main trump card. Every fighter has a bar at the bottom of the screen, and when it’s full, you can start charging. As a Beast, you have access to numerous combos and throws, and your attack and defense power is higher as well.
Then there’s also the “Hyper Beast” mode. Here time seems to stop, and you get 12 seconds to beat your opponent to a pulp. This mode doesn’t have any restrictions; you’re super-fast and manoeuvrable, you can perform combos within combos, and you can do all the Beast moves without them influencing your bar.
This wall was made for breaking!
Bloody Roar 3 radiates roughness. Opponents can be kicked all over the screen, steel building constructions are bent under the force of other Zoanthropes being kicked into them, and if a wall sustains enough damage, it’s possible to hit an enemy right through it. The finishing moves are repeated in slow-motion, so you can watch every painful detail again.
In the moves department, Bloody Roar 3 is pretty well catered for. When two beginning players start smashing buttons, you won’t get to see much, though. The flashier moves are hidden in the combos, like Gado’s “Sky Launcher Strike” (a barrage of knees), and Xion’s throw in Beast-form (impaling his opponent on his feelers). Most other throws and moves have a rough edge to them that you usually only get to see in Wrestling games.
These backgrounds get the “mediocre” stamp.
Bloody Roar 3 brings us nothing new where stages and backgrounds are concerned. There’s the weird “Dino Museum” where the dinos in the background get more and more active; the “Sea Fortress”, sort of a 3D rip-off of the fighter plane background in Street Fighter 2 (including a setting sun), only this time the plane actually takes off; and the “Silent Temple”, a lame rip-off of the temples in Soul Caliber. There are some original backgrounds, like the “Slum Street” and the “Mystery Relics”, but most are mediocre at best.
Wow! This music rocks!
The music is a different story altogether. The series has earned part of its reputation from its solid rock themes. Now the makers seem to have calmed down a little, and the Bloody Roar 3 music is now only half-hard. Some stages are accompanied by the well-known screaming guitars, while others have been furnished with more of a techno sound. Still, there are a couple of true gems in there, like the background music to “Dino Museum”, “Into the Battlefield”, “Freezing Space” and “Slum Street”.
Sound effects are pretty decent. The throw-and-break actions are accompanied by a bunch of painful sounds.
PS2 graphics: so-so.
Graphically the game is like most games I’ve seen on the Playstation 2 so far: not that good, not that bad. Some aspects are beautifully done, like the transformations from human to animal. But the other graphics (bodies, clothes, faces) can’t compete with titles like Tekken and Dead or Alive.
I have nothing but praise for the Hyper Beast mode though. While everything is much faster and flashier than in regular modes, I hardly noticed any slowdown.
Didn’t they have time for finishing touches?
Bloody Roar 3’s presentation is a little sloppy. The intro is a little nonentity of whipped-together in-game scenes with about four full seconds of Full Motion Video. Then comes an unimaginative screen, with the familiar Arcade/VS Battle/Survival/Practice modes on it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Then end of game clips are simply artwork with a few lines of text, but unfortunately not in the beautiful, artistic way of Soul Caliber.
A nice bonus was the game case’s cover art. It’s sort of a holographic front that, depending on how you hold it, shows you Yugo’s face in human and Zoanthrope form. We European gamers don’t get to see many things like that…
Don’t disregard Bloody Roar 3 as a Beat’em-up you use as a coaster until the better games arrive. This game has developed its own particular style, mixing typical Beat’em-up influences with Wrestling elements, combining all that with claws, teeth and fireworks. It's simply fun to play, and you don't have to be a genius to play it.
If you’re open to some alternative hacking and slashing and if you have what it takes to master special moves, Bloody Roar 3 will be a worthy purchase.
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