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Fighting Force 2
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Core
Publisher:  Eidos
Features:  Dual Shock
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  
Info:  http://
Hawk Manson may be the worst videogame protaganist I've ever come across. He drops stupid, testosterone-laced one-liners like "time to get it on" without a lick of shame. He's got a terrible, mustard-colored flat-top that doesn't accentuate his face, even if he believes otherwise. And his eyes are so far apart, I suspect that Ma and Pa Manson may have been first cousins. So how on earth did I come to love the man named Hawk?

Truth be told, the man is versatile. He can hold his own in a run- and-gun shootout, and he can roundhouse kick like Bruce Lee. He wields a lead pipe like a plumber with anthrax, and can slide down a ladder like he went to firemen's school. And don't even get me started on those back flips...

Welcome to another lame videogame dystopia, where some nefarious corporation threatens the livelihood of the world at large via illegal cloning experiments, hence the need for a little of the old industrial espionage. It's funny, the jewel case invites you to "go undercover as Hawk Manson", but I don't really remember any undercover work. If my memory serves, I remember running half cocked into a room fool of Cobra rejects spraying Uzi-fire this way and that, and then hurling the gun at them when the clip was kicked. When given the game to review, I received this summary, which I will pass on to you. "It's Syphon Filter with kicks and punches." That's a fair comparison, though I realy loved Syphon Filter (climbing on that dinosaur made me giddy with delight!), and Fighting Force 2 somehow makes Syphon Filter look like a John Grisham novel in regards to bureaucratic and dramatic feasability. But I don't think it's fair to pigeonhole FF2 as a Syphon Filter clone. Sure, they're both 3rd person action titles with a similar interface and a hint of espionage. But this takes place in the future... (long pause) so it can't be the same, right? Right? (cue crickets)

Goodness, I'm not doing a good job of selling this game. the truth is, I really like it, in spite of my better judgment. For one thing, the game makes no pretense towards any story, so to judge it against Syphon Filter's (which had some lame cut-scenes, come to think... and that ending!) is entirely unfair. It looks good, with about the same level of graphical excellence in its environments as Syphon. There are some surprisingly well done touches, in fact, such as the room with a big industrial fan in the wall which blows papers through the air in a lovely fashion. Too bad I had to desroy it. Hawk is animated surpisingly well, with small touches here and there that show a keen eye for the details of human movement. Even the the enemies, who for the most part plod about, have these wonderfully human moments. For instance, when two grunts approach you, they will often stop about three feet away from you, with an air of expectation, waiting for you to make the first move. It's too bad they're all dressed like Cobra Commander did shortly before the whole G.I. Joe franchise went to pot.

Another great thing is that the environments are almost completely destructible. I mean, you can approach nearly anything and watch how it loses structural integrity under the impact of Hawk Manson's manliness. I swear, I never had so much fun beating up inanimate objects. Even the office chairs explode when you kick them. And Hawk has a splendid variety of ways to destroy things, depending on what instrument of destruction you choose. Smashing the supply crates littered throughout the game can either be done with a jump, or you can pull out a sledgehammer and watch Hawk wind up like Gallagher on a watermelon. And there's something satisfying about taking a fire axe to a computer.

So what draws me to this game, and leads me even to recommend it? It's not the story, heavens no. It's only partly because of Hawk Manson himself. And the goals never really go beyond "find this key... destroy that mainframe..." and so on, even though you will probably enjoy monkey-barring your way across pools of dangerous chemicals. What the game presents, with its hybrid, anything goes mentality, is options. You can really play it anyway you want. You can be stealthy, you can go postal, guns 'a blazin', you can leave it up to your fists, or you can rely upon your weaponry, of which there is plenty. And once you get the hang of controlling Hawk, you'll enjoy maneuvering him through his environment. So give it a rental at first, and see if you can love the man, the mystery, that is mean Hawk Manson. He's really a pussycat.

Seth Berkowitz


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