Unlike what the news would have you believe, the only crime stemming from Grand Theft Auto’s popularity is the theft of its own content. A petty crime at best, but the market is about to be inundated with two-bit clones trying to muscle in on San Andreas’ turf.
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance is an unapologetically violent game, and the bruises you amass will help you not to forget. About the only person you can’t pummel is the reporter who appears from time to time save your progress. After selecting one of the five characters, the game asks you to contemplate where exactly you want to take your knuckle artistry. The burning question Beat Down asks you to make before battering an opponent into submission is whether you’d like to recruit to your team or interrogate them for information.
Starting out as a betrayed mobster, you have to battle your way back up the pecking order on the mean streets. Well, maybe less “mean” and more dark, dull and unimpressive streets. Really, this is drabness on a grand scale, and Beat Down is a game whose looks are face down in the rough end of the gutter.
You could always break the tedium by being the world’s first transvestite crimelord/lady. We know of few other games that let men dress up like women, and then go ballistic on everyone. The customization of clothes and hair, don’t offer much more than the typical streetwise makeover kit.
But the game itself is the one most in need of a makeover. You have a variety of moves at your disposal, though you won’t use most of them since throws and weapons are overpowered. But the sticky and irritating camera generally focuses your brutality in the opposite direction of your intended enemy. And since the sloppy AI of your fellow gang members generally has you doing the lion’s share of the fighting you may end up focusing more violence on your controller.