Product Type: Sega Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... as power, speed, jumping, technique and stamina. The four characters are Axel, Blaze, Skate and Max and they are all reasonably good. My p... more
Streets of Rage 2 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Anti
Streets of Rage 2 (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Easy to learn gameplay, distinguishable characters and moves, good graphics, great soundtrack.
Disadvantages: Story linear, gameplay will get repetitive, bit of a steep difficulty curve
'Streets of Rage 2' was originally released on the Sega Megadrive in 1991. This follow-up from the original was much improved and very popular among gamers of the time. It has been ported onto several consoles since then and is part of the Sega Megadrive Collection of games. When I saw my cousin play the game on her Megadrive I was intrigued and later downloaded the game through the Wii's Virtual Console to enjoy.
The story is a basic one. The three cops from the first Streets of Rage- Axel, Blaze and Adam- defeated evil guy Mr. X and brought an end to the crime and corrupting in their city and have since returned to new jobs. However Mr X wasn't really dead; he captures Adam and crime returns to the city once again, worse than ever. Axel and Blaze get together, along with Adam's younger brother Skate and professional wrestler Max, to save the city and rescue Adam. It's linear but then again this is a 90s side-scrolling beat-em-up where a complex plot isn't necessary. At least it continues straight off from the first game and doesn't seem to have Mr.X returning from the dead as some kind of robot, like in Streets of Rage 3!
Gameplay is straightforward. You (and player 2 if you have a controller ready) choose your character from Axel, Blaze, Max or Skate and then go through side-scrolling stages beating up the various enemies that come in your way. To help you get through the onslaught various items appear on the ground as either foodstuffs (to restore health) or weapons like pipes or katanas (to temporarily equip). You start off with 5 lives, three continues and 100 seconds on the clock which is extended after beating a wave of enemies and you move forward in the level. If you lose all your lives and continues, or run out of time, then it's game over.
When you get to the end of the level and defeat the boss, you get bonus points to your score can be accumulated into extra lives. Each character has a basic attack which can be stringed into a combo, a jump attack, a special move and an even more powerful special move which takes off some of the character's health when executed. There's also the chance to throw enemies (or player 2 if they're in your way) onto the ground for damage. Controls are very simple and it's easy to grasp how to do each move and combo.
The characters all differ in style and in the character select menu the games does give indication as to what each character specializes in. Axel is the most balanced, Skate is very fast but weak in terms of power, Blaze is slightly slower but more powerful with a better special move and Max is basically a tank- slow but strong. In my case, I usually pick Axel because his special move ("Grand Upper!") is very powerful, attacks many enemies if they're close together and is easy to utilize against quick moving bosses. On the other hand, Skate is very difficult to control because, as his name implies, he skates quickly around the level too fast for my liking and barely does any damage.
SoR2 is very hard. If certain kinds of enemies appearing in droves don't knock you down then the tough bosses will. It's by no means mind-numbingly impossible, but considering you cannot save between levels in a Megadrive game (though ported versions will by all means let you suspend your play or make a save state) this is quite the challenge to keep all your lives and continues available. Your timing when attacking enemies is the key to success here, as is utilizing the right moves to take down certain ones most easily. I find it difficult to beat the last levels even on Normal difficulty and have only managed to beat Mr X on the final stage through co-op play (and by that I mean one of us is dead by this point). To think that there was an even harder level in the original Japanese version...
Anyway, the graphics in Streets of Rage 2 are obviously dated by our HD standards but still for the time they were pretty good. Each stage is very different from the other as your protagonists move from the city streets to Mr. X's island, and they're very colourful and with a bit of attention to detail as you move through the place; far from being the same backgrounds painted over and over again until the boss, you in fact move through different buildings and modes of transport in the same stage. The enemy sprites are repeated throughout the game but it's just used to distinguish between the different sets of criminals coming at you. Animation is slightly choppy especially when attacks connect with notable slow frames, but character and enemy movement is smooth enough. Now the game's soundtrack is excellent with tunes that completely match the stage. The first stage which, as I mentioned, takes place on the streets is very edgy and reminds you of the thugs you have to beat into the ground. Furthermore the boss music is brilliant as a haunting tune that ups the tension so you know for sure that the enemy you're facing is much more powerful than those you've come across in the level (even if they do appear in later stages). Can't really say the same for the small voice acting and sound effects in the game, which includes shouting out special moves ("Grand UPPER!") or an enemy grunting when they've "died"; they do the job but get pretty annoying after a while when you're facing several foes at once.
Overall Streets of Rage 2 is a very good game and is worth purchasing in some form. Completing the game should take 1.5-2 hrs in one sitting and will be a decent amount of time well spent. It's certainly a worthwhile beat-em-up that is not only enjoyable but also fairly challenging. This is very much recommended.
(Also on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
Summary: Buy or download this game, grab a friend and go take down Mr. X!