Older gamers like me have fond memories of games like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon, side-scrolling beat-em ups that were incredibly difficult, and that used to gobble up our 10p pieces in the arcades as we desperately tried to beat that end-of-level boss for the first time. The recent retro revival has piqued interest in these types of games and developer MakinGames has updated the genre for the current generation of consoles with Raging Justice.
Raging Justice takes place in Big Smoke City, a city held to ransom by a mysterious crime lord, where you must take control of one of the three playable mavericks, Nikki Rage, Rick Justice or Ashley King, all with different characteristics, as you battle your way through x levels. It’s available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC, and this review is of the Xbox One version. Raging Justice is published by Team17.
Raging Justice has some added new features to update the genre. Instead of just beating all the bad guys (and girls) you have the option to arrest them instead. Being a good cop has its benefits as it gives you more health but you get more points if you play nasty. There are also vehicles in the form of lawnmowers and tractors that can be used to mow down your enemies, along with weapons that can be used by both sides, such as hammers, dustbins and knives. Raging Justice also features co-op and leaderboards so you can both compete with and against your friends.
Raging Justice is as difficult as some of its predecessors were, and sometimes it feels unfair. One end-of-level boss has a special move that can be avoided by jumping. However, if you mistime one jump then the subsequent attacks will all hit you as the animation won’t allow you to get to your feet in time. There are three difficulty levels, the easiest being “Wimp” and I did drop down to this in order to get through some of the later levels. There are plenty of enemy types to fight against and all have different fighting styles to learn how to counter, from the tall dude who throws explosives – that can be picked up and thrown back – to the horrible taser wielding females. The end-of-level bosses are also very unique, with the twin threat of the fat guys in the bar who just run at you, to the purple pimp who has a spin attack with his cane. All of these have to approached in a different way in order to defeat them.
The art style is really nice, and the graphics do a great job in making Raging Justice feel and play like a old-school game whilst at the same time looking modern and flashy. However one of my main gripes is that the animations and player control does feel a bit clunky, and it takes a lot of time to get used to chaining your attacks together in a fluid way. Too often you’ll get outnumbered and a sneaky taser attack from what seems like too far away will stunt your progress. The animation to pick up a thrown weapon or explosive is also a bit hit and miss, which will result in you getting blown up. There does seem to be an infinite supply of lives though, so you can just power through. The arrest system also doesn’t really work, as the amount of enemies on screen will attack you during the animation, and sometimes I will finish the level failing on the arrests when I wasn’t sure who I had to arrest.
Each level also has a number of challenges to be completed, such as finishing in a certain time or throwing explosives back at enemies a number of times. These do add some re-playability to levels and will boost your score in order to climb those leaderboards. However, I have my concerns about the re-playability factor for casual gamers, as after about ten hours I don’t feel that it has a lot more for me to see. Despite its flaws Raging Justice is a fun game to play, and there is a lot of enjoyment to be had in just plowing through and beating up your enemies. It’s quite a cathartic exercise at the end of a stressful day at work!
Overall Raging Justice is a competent side scrolling 2D fighting game and taking into consideration that its launch price is £10 it has to be a recommended purchase. Fans of the genre will probably love it, and newcomers will get enough entertainment from it to justify the price, though it might be a frustrating experience for some due to the difficulty. It’s a difficult game to score, but based on the low price it deserves a seven.