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Dirty Harry. Bad Lieutenant. LA Confidential. Maniac Cop. All films starring violent cops, but none of those flatfloots are a patch on Tokyo Beat Down’s Lewis Cannon. If you squeezed the essence of cinema’s meanest cops into a cup, Cannon would gulp it down and ask for more. He’d probably unload a shotgun into a child shoplifter while he did it. When the crims cry “Police brutality!” he asks “How much do you want?”
Cannon and his fellow ‘Beast Cops’ are brilliant company. Striding the streets they pulverise all they meet, and where fists can’t go – namely, members of the general public – they send withering insults instead. Add a healthy quota of red-faced police chiefs and a rookie yet to step over the thin blue line and you’ve got just about every cop cliché in the book.
If only they didn’t clumsily put their foot in every gaming cliché in the book too. A straight-up Streets Of Rage brawler, this comes with the works: hamburgers hidden in oil drums, goons to clear before the street pans forward, not to mention that slightly rigid song-and-dance where you awkwardly line up with goons to land a punch. Is it deliberately reveling in backwards ideas or is it plain lazy?
Lewis and co add a bit of colour to the fighting with ludicrously violent moves. One second he’s seizing a punk and hammering his lower abdomen with spleen-rupturing hits, the next he’s finishing off a three-punch combo with a point-blank pistol shot to the face. Guns are clumsily handled – it takes too long to adopt your shooting pose – but emptying a screen-clearing load of buckshot is a guilty hoot.
As funny as it is to see one massive character model roundhouse another massive character model (seriously, these guys are China Warrior big), you can’t help but wish that the developers had an eye for game design that matched their grasp of character creation. As difficult as it is not to recommend a game that stars a character named ‘Stuff-in-Common-With-You Guy’ (guess what, he has stuff in common with you), we need Tokyo Beat Down to hand in its gun and its badge. Like it would listen to us.
Apr 8, 2009