Bloody Roar 3
When you look back through the progression of games, you can truly appreciate how far your favorite genre has gone since you’ve started playing. 3D fighting games have evolved with this latest generation of consoles. With the advent of Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur 2, and other series on the PS2, fighting game fans have something to look forward to when they browse the stores. With tons of characters and countless movelists to master, a gamer could spend months, even years mastering a character. But with so many fighting games out on the market today, there’s a good chance that a sub par game will be unleashed upon the hordes of unsuspecting fans. While fan expectations can be nearly impossible to fully satisfy, we have to accept the sad truth that great games are hard to come by in this generation. Unfortunately, the Bloody Roar series is a prime example of how an interesting concept can be undermined by poor gameplay and lacking quality.
Welcome to the future of humanity: A minority struggling to gain a foothold in society, and rough start to the next phase of evolution for mankind. It’s been a few years since the world has accepted the existence of Zoanthropes, the latest species to inhabit the Earth. These beings look like normal humans. That is, until they transform into monstrous beasts and fight to the death. Unlike your standard human fighter, the Zoanthropes use the inherent abilities of their animal forms to wage war with each other. While these semi-human warriors may not have any fancy special Hadokens or Sonic Booms, they make up for it with their razor-sharp claws, incredible strength, and possibly fleas to help them win the day. As this new group is on the verge of becoming the new standard of physicality, a mysterious epidemic has swept through their ranks. Zoanthropes found themselves bearing strange marks called a “Crest” on their bodies. These marks were essentially a death sentence for whoever had the misfortune of having them. One by one, the Zoanthropes were dying as the others can only look on in wonder and pity. Eventually, a small group of marked fighters decided to rise up against whatever menace was plaguing their race. Knowing only of their will to fight, the brave individuals set off, ready to annihilate the unknown enemy.
It sounds almost too good to be true. You have the small group of terrorized people, ready and willing to fight for what they believe in. Not only do these heroes have the will fight, but they’ve also got super powers to back them up. The combination of emotion and power makes for a decent presentation. It’s a real shame that none of the plot is used in the actual game. Instead of seeing the epic plot come into being, we’re automatically thrust into the character select menu. We aren’t given any background information on the characters, only the specific animals that can be used. You’ve got the likes of Yugo the wolf, Jenny the bat, Long the tiger, and a handful of other generic fighters to choose from. Once you’ve started the match, all you have to do is push the button and watch as your seemingly ordinary fighter morphs into a wild mutant animal. Using some newfound abilities, your fighter can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting foe.
At least, it’s supposed to be like that. While it may be cool to see someone change into a muscular werewolf, the actual beast forms have little impact on the overall gameplay. When the fighter morphs into an animal, the only thing attained is slightly higher attack strength, a few new moves, and a new fur coat. Aside from the fancy gimmick, Bloody Roar 3 operates like any other standard 3D fighter. Each character has some unique fighting strategy to be learned and implemented to guarantee success. If you choose Uriko, you have to deal with her excellent speed and learn how to chain together the various combos that makeup her moveset. If you simply rush into the game and try to button mash your way to victory, Uriko will be essentially road kill by the time you get to the latter half of the Arcade Mode. There’s a real need for you to learn a character before trying this game beyond the easiest difficulty setting. Each of these characters comes with a fairly sized movelist of attacks, blocks, and specials. It’s a matter of taking the time in Training Mode and actually learning how to use them that makes the game stop short of being a pushover.
However, the game’s Arcade Mode has a tendency to get old pretty quickly. Maybe it’s the lack of variation with the fighters, or maybe it’s the fact the one of your main opponents looks like a Skeletor rip off. Whatever the reason, it won’t be long before you’ll look for other modes to make up for the stale Arcade Mode. Unfortunately, this game comes only with the standard VS Battle and Survival Modes when you start at default. The real replay value lies with the unlockables that are strewn throughout the game. If you have the patience, you can endure countless Survival Mode bouts and unlocks some interesting additions, like the High Speed Battle Mode or the Sumo Wrestling Battle Mode. Also, there are a few unlockable characters once you’ve gotten bored with the tried and true Bloody Roar lineup. While this handful of extra features require a minute amount of effort to attain, you’ll still be left wishing there was more to find, wanting a little something more to add to the tiresome game.
If there’s any saving grace for this game, it’s the presentation. The game comes equipped with a generic heavy metal soundtrack. As far as audio goes, the only noteworthy features of Bloody Roar 3 are the animal roars themselves. Once you push that button, you can hear the guttural, bellowing shriek of an animal that’s lost control. However, the real beauty of this game lies with the visual aspects. While the attack animations are nowhere near as smooth and realistic as some of Bloody Roar’s contemporaries, the attention to character design and detail can’t be overlooked. All of the fighters have their own look and moderately detailed design, like Xion’s flowing trench coat or Alice’s skimpy nurse outfit. However, the real beauty lies with the battle stages. There aren’t many backgrounds with this game, but they have an excellent amount of detail. You’ll fight on railway platforms, dark alleys, roofs of skyscrapers, even a chilly meat locker. The appeal of these areas stem from the little details in each level. If you fight in the meat locker, you can see the tiny clouds of cold air as the fighters breathe. When you fight on the airport, you’ll be subject to a brilliant sun setting in the background. Not only does the bright glare alter the colors of the level, it also creates shadows of the characters. It’s just little extra details like these that make replaying the game just a little bit more interesting.
It’s sad to watch as the Bloody Roar series goes to hell. It has a decent gimmick to make it stand out among other fighters. If only the minds behind this game actually sat down and figured out how to implement the gimmick properly, it could have the makings of something great. But in the meantime, Bloody Roar 3 stands average at best, a last resort for fighting game fans looking to supplement their collection. Despite having a decent concept, the game falls flat against the competition. Maybe it’s the lack of challenge. Or maybe it’s the original combat system. Whatever it is, it makes this game reek of poor quality. As I turn away in disgust, I’m hoping that something good will happen for this series. Someday, Bloody Roar will come back as a force to be reckoned with in the gaming community. But as far as this game goes, skip it. Unless you’re an animal lover, you won’t be missing anything.