Based on the excellent film Fight Club, Vivendi's beat-'em-up of the same name is being developed for PS2 and Xbox and first impressions are very promising. Unashamedly brutal and gritty, it features that one element most beat-'em-ups spurn - body damage that affects subsequent gameplay. Ooooh, we like.
The game not only uses the film settings and action (naturally, seeing as it involves fisticuffs) but also follows the story. The element that has us excited is the aforementioned damage aspect. Get an opponent's energy level low enough and you can snap body parts with the right move. The game will flash up a cut-scene displaying an X-ray view of the fight with the relevant damage clearly visible (as in the screenshot on the right). The opponent loses the use of a broken limb for the remainder of the fight, which is the way it should be. A back breaker is also in there which finishes the bout there and then.
Broken limbs aren't the only brutal aspect to the game, blood is heavily featured and expect plenty of bruising to appear if the guy opposite has been using your face as a punch bag. These however are just visual nuances, unlike the game altering bone-breaking moves.
All this damage has a further knock-on affect as there is an RPG element. Fight matches can be bet on using your character development points (CDP) which are used to improve your character. But here's the sting in the tail - all that damage has to be accounted for by nipping along to the hospital to get healed and they want some of your hard-earned CDPs for their trouble. If you don't heal yourself, eventually you'll die, yes that's right, your character will just die from all the punishment. As in the film, fighters can tap out (submit) during a fight, so thinking of future hospital bills, or demise, while being pummelled introduces an interesting choice factor into the beat-'em-up genre.
Fight Club appears to be doing something slightly different within the beat-'em-up genre and we, for one, like the direction developers Genuine Games have taken. We'll be keeping a close on eye on Fight Club, so check back regularly for updates.
Fight Club will appear on PS2 and Xbox around autumn 2004