[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pfc/cover.jpg[/floatleft][author]Soda[/author]So this week, like many others, started off with Pickle and I debating back and forth as to which game to buy at EB. After Manchester United dealt with us wanting to try out about 10 games Pickle walks over to me with Pride FC for PS2. Interesting decision on his part, because we both have a love/hate with the PS2 and both have been furiously pissed off at THQ since Wrestlemania X8. I decided to give it a shot and believe it or not we actually enjoyed playing it in the store, so I reluctantly agreed to buy it and give THQ a chance to redeem themselves.
[author]Pickle[/author]The funny thing is that when Soda says “I” decided to buy it, he really means that I, Pickle, had to pay for it while he gravy trains the second controller. I was in the mood for a fighting game at the time for reasons unknown. I personally do not like fighters. After 1000 editions of the same Street Fighter and shitty ass Mortal Kombats (with the exception of the first) I gave up on any games where I have to fight another guy. Soda is right. THQ has sucked for a long time now, after putting out some great games with AKI during the N64 “glory days”. The WWE Smackdown Series has never been a favorite of mine. I hate the character models and fast paced controls. It was just never right with me. So after seeing THQ on the cover I almost put it back on the shelf if it hadn’t been for me wanting to whoop some ass. I was able to demo it and to my amazement the game looked cool. I am a fan of the Pride and UFC television pay per views, so I knew who to pick and what I was doing. The computer had other ideas, and promptly kicked my ass about 10 straight times. Then after finally beating the CPU, I challenged Soda, mass chaos ensued.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pfc/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright][author]Soda[/author]Mass chaos did ensue, but I’m still pissed because Pickle was reading the instruction booklet while I drove home and he knew all the moves by the time we got there. What Pickle and I quickly noticed about Pride was that THQ didn’t use the same crappy character models that they use for the Smackdown series. While the character models aren’t extremely complex, they look very good. THQ definitely made a good decision by not trying to get too complicated with the characters because every time they do I feel like I’m playing Pit Fighter all over again. They did a really good job of working within the Playstation 2’s graphic capabilities and not trying to push it too hard. The end result is characters that look good, moves that look fluid and natural, and kicks and punches that are flat out devastating. The first time I hit Pickle with a double fisted smash to the face we just about lost it. A major issue I had with the graphics during the fights was the ludicrous amount of blood that sprayed around the ring after every hit. The characters don’t bleed like you would expect a real person to bleed; they just seem to emit neon red raindrops like a sprinkler. The only cool thing that stems from this blood fountain is that there are some camera angles where one the fighter’s head sprays blood on the camera like a watermelon exploding. It’s gross, but if you’re landing nice blows than it gets an “Oh Damn” result from the unlucky guy who’s head is taking the pounding. Other aspects of the games graphics came out successful as well, the ring entrances aren’t anything over the top, but they do look smooth as well. Pride uses a lot of actual video between matches and during ring entrances, which are edited fairly well. Except when you create your own character. Instead of just using bits of Pride highlights or something it gives you a brief custom section to your entrance video. They are dumb, really dumb. For some reasons they also decide to give your created character fun little nicknames like “The Natural” or “The Fighting Machine.” This one entrance even has 80’s looking Pink Bubbles floating around in the background that led me to call Pickle’s created character “The Bubble Man.” It was classic because it really pissed him off. All that business aside, the graphics are some of the best ever to grace the PS2. Pickle, why don’t you tell the good folks at home a lil’ something about the sound?
[author]Pickle[/author]The sound for Pride is probably where it could use the most improvement. The game is presented as the actual live Pride event, so of course they try to bring you into the actual arena. The intro music for fighters is presented as well as an announcer introducing them. The intense Japanese live crowds cheer for their favorite fighter, and in the ring you will obviously hear the sound of a fist or a foot hitting others upside the dome. However the sound of hits are a bit unrealistic, as it should be more muted as opposed to an explosion happening. The intro songs, pre and post match announcing are low, and the crowd noise usually drowns them out. Cool thing is that some fighters have actual licensed songs that accompany them to the ring such as Sandstorm. But nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than hearing the Japanese accented announcer say your custom character’s name as, “Pwaaaaaayerrrrrrrrrr WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!” Sheer hilarity my friends, sheer hilarity. The game does do the mat sounds correctly, and you will hear this the most as you and your opponent roll around the mat trying to break each other’s neck the audio that represents it is perfect. Good thing that most matches take place on the mat so you can hear the one aspect of audio that was done right…besides “Pwaaaaaayerrrrrrrrrr WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!”
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pfc/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatleft][author]Soda[/author]Which brings us to the best part of Pride, the control. I hate fighting games that usually just end up in either a button mashing fest or a series of complicated moves that only a quantum physics engineer could master. How many times have you had this conversation while playing a fighting game with friends; “Hey, sweet. How did you do that fireball?”
“Oh man, it’s so easy. Just move the D-pad back and forth in a rocking motion while standing on one foot at the same time holding down all four buttons on the top of the controller and hitting the A, B, and C buttons while mashing the select button with your nose and eating a bowl of ravioli at the same time.”
And don’t even get me started about how much I hate the controls on Smackdown. Like the graphics in Pride, THQ kept the controls simple but elegant. They made sure that a person couldn’t win a match by pressing the jab button repeatedly or just pinning you in the corner and kicking you in the junk. Pickle and I decided to discuss the two aspects of a fight by talking about them separately. I prefer to use Gilbert Yvel who is a kick boxer. Pickle is usually a Jiu-Jitsu fighter, so obviously we employ different strategies during a fight. Basically my strategy is to keep him at a distance and keep myself off the mat. If I can keep the fighter at a distance I can do a dash move that ends with a knee to the face that is just wicked. Throughout the course of a fight Pickle will move in many times to try and knock me to the mat, so I play a bit defensively and weasel my way out of most of the grapples he tries to get me in. As I wear Pickle down with a few roundhouse kicks to the head, I try to get him on his back to go for the win. Mat wrestling is more of Pickle’s forte, so I’ll let him tell you about it.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pfc/ss01_thumb.jpg[/floatright][author]Pickle[/author]The fighting engine really shows how well it was designed when the matches go to the guard. There are so many things that can happen depending on your style of fighter. You want to take away as much of the other player’s life as possible leaving him susceptible to a submission. Or you can hold him down and beat the high hell out of him on the ground for a knock out. Anything and everything has a reversal, often times your submission’s momentum will cause you to tap out due to a well-timed reversal. Or if a fighter is on top raining punches below, the fighter in his guard can catch the punch and turn it into the triangle chokehold. Personally if you want to win the match you must control the ground game. The key to taking a striking player down to your level is to take him to the mat. The controls make this possible but difficult to do. If the opposing fighter knows you want him on the ground he can keep his distance and avoid any take down attempts. The game becomes a chess match if played the way it was meant or it can turn into a slugfest. Personally I love to play slow matches and set up the submission, but sometimes a well-placed knee to the face will cause you to panic and start flailing punches like a mad man. The controls are set up for you to control the match and make it your fight; it can sometimes become almost artistic with reversal after reversal to set up the final blow.
[author]Soda[/author]Pride really shines when you play against another person. Playing against the computer can be extremely frustrating. I don’t understand how the difficultly works on this game. You’ll enter a tournament one time and mow down your opponents to the finals and than another time the computer will paint the ring with your blood in the first round. It’s very bizarre and there doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. The first time Pickle and I tried a tournament he got beat in the first round and I made it all the way to the finals to fight one of the most spectacular matches ever against Ken Metzger. Sadly I lost with less than 10 seconds left in the first round. The strange thing was that the longer we played the harder it seemed to get. After an entire weekend we couldn’t even win a match anymore. I imagine that if you invested some serious time and energy into Pride you could get really good. Only once you got good you would become frustrated with the lack of a ranking system or any type of “title defense” mode.
[author]Pickle[/author]This game has a fun factor only a fighting game can have. While playing it alone it is ok, but when playing with friends with some friends it really shines. The matches can be great to watch sometimes, as you pals yell at you to do this or do that. The reaction from hardcore knees to the grill is priceless as the crowd lets out a collective, ” OHHHHHH!” This is not a game I would mind waiting for my turn in. The first player aspect however is not as fun. There are limited modes and no career mode with player rankings and such. Playing by yourself just to go through a tourney and become champ is not very fun after a while. The survival mode is fucking impossible, so that isn’t fun either. Like I said, round up some friends and have a great time with this game. I assure you your fingers will be hurting from all the buttons being pressed to avoid the submission. I would say the game does have a lasting fun appeal for multiplayer, but a short one for the single player modes.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pfc/ss03_thumb.jpg[/floatleft][author]Soda[/author]Pride is definitely the best thing I’ve seen THQ do in a long, long time. But I can’t help but feel that if this game had spent another few months in development it would have been fantastic. The most fun you’ll have with Pride is to rent it and bring over as many friends as possible for a night of heavy alcohol consumption and video games. The single player mode on Pride is just not fun enough to buy it. And if you’re thinking that you’re going to buy this game and get good and than bring your friends over and kick their asses, just don’t. If you get too good at the game it’s not going to be any fun. The best matches result when two players of almost equal skill match up against each other. This game is definitely worthwhile to rent, as a matter of fact consider it a Snackbar recommended rental. Props to THQ and here’s to hoping that they keep making games that are on par with Pride.
[author]Pickle[/author]So get to the rental store and pick this bitch up before I make your ass tap out!