Tag Archives: Beat em Up

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn review

The original Shaq Fu received mostly positive reviews at launch, but as time passed it gained the notoriety of being terrible, one of the worst games ever made in fact. Certainly, a sequel or reimagining didn’t seem likely, but after a successful Indiegogo campaign here we have Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn, and what a pleasant surprise it is.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn ditches the original Mortal Kombat style tournament fighting setup for a side-scrolling beat ‘em up one instead, and it’s a great fit. Playing as Shaquille O’Neil (Shaq) you fight your way through six locations beating the life out of the many anthropomorphised demons that mean to stop you, before engaging a more varied and grotesque demon boss at the end of each one.

Combat is wonderfully simple and smooth, with a normal attack doing the majority of the work, a heavier shield-breaking attack, a dodge, a dash, and a powerful limited use attack rounding off the compliment of moves. Each one is gradually taught to you as they become necessary; it’s an intuitive move-set that proves fast, effective and fun.

Enemies are varied enough to encourage you to think about what move best suits a situation and which threats are best taken out first, but it’s still a fairly mindless brawler, to its credit that is. Instead you can focus on just how satisfying it is to beat up these enemies, seeing the occasional goon fly towards the screen and crack it, and watch bemused when Shaq randomly unleashes an exaggerated attack involving high kicks and body slamming. It’s silly, over-the-top fun.

The over-the-top-ness continues with the presentation, with crisp, bright cartoon visuals bringing the levels and characters to life, and some excellent caricature design for the enemies. The is especially shown off during the animated storytelling sequences between levels, where the characterisation is brought to life with excellent animation and wonderful transformations as the demons turn from human to demon form. Furthermore, a funny script that’s well acted does its part to make this reimagining feel thoroughly modern.

Indeed, there’s a story to follow as well, and while it begins only as a means to drive you forwards, it soon becomes intriguing, amusing and immersive. Demons hiding as celebrities, Shaq’s peculiar mentor and friends, all help to create a funny adventure and include the occasional fourth-wall breaking jokes. It all feels a bit Deadpool starring Shaq.

Unfortunately, despite the adventure only taking a few hours to complete, the combat scenarios do get repetitive. The odd special transformation for Shaq, a cactus suit and a mech suit, help with variety, as do the occasional environmental hazard, but the majority of play is spent fighting waves of enemies and gradually moving to the right. Additionally, we did run in to a couple of bugs during one boss fight, which was frustrating.

Once the short story is concluded there’s very little to entice you back. A lack of multiplayer is a crying shame and feels like it might have been the silver bullet to keep Shaq Fu interesting after completion, but alas. Instead there’s a Shaq-o-pedia to look up information on enemies and the like, as well as additional difficulty levels, but otherwise nothing to temp you.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn certainly provides a fun and amusing single player beat ‘em up experience. The lack of multiplayer, lack of variety, and overall shortness hurt it a little but there’s no denying how enjoyable it is the first time playing through.

Thanks to Wired Productions for supporting TiX

Mortal Kombat X review

The Mortal Kombat series has a storied history, wonderfully delighting and shocking us with its special brand of gruesome and violent combat. I have vivid memories of how intense the first games were; from the style of combat, the unlockable secrets like Reptile and blood mode, to the painstaking research and experimentation required to unlock the over-the-top, gory and highly satisfying Fatalities. The announcement of the newest game in the franchise, Mortal Kombat X, had me all a quiver, with my expectations skyrocketing.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed; from the moment you fire up the game you are again immersed in the corny but brutal world of Mortal Kombat. In fact, the immersion starts before you even enter an arena. On starting the game you must choose which faction you want to fight for. The five factions represent the clans and organisations many of the roster herald from – such as Earthrealm’s Special Forces community, and Netherrealm’s Brotherhood of Shadow. As you play – whether online of offline – you accumulate points which contribute to the overall score of your faction. At the end of each week a faction is announced the winner and rewards are dished out, such as Koins for spending in the Krypt and even a Faction Kill, a faction-specific Fatality. It’s a great way to encourage players to return daily, especially with faction–specific challenges cropping up hourly, daily and weekly granting score boost if you conquer them, furthermore, it doesn’t force you into competing online; regardless of how you play Mortal Kombat, any action results in points for your faction, keeping everyone involved.

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With the previous title in the series re-treading the original trilogy’s story and providing a lengthy and coherent narrative for the series, Mortal Kombat X, has its work cut out for it. Fortunately the story maintains its silly but fascinating appeal, continuing on from where the last one left off and making smart decisions with the introduction of new characters and keeping continuity. Throughout the 6-8 hour story you’ll jump into the shoes of the majority of the cast, fighting a few bouts as each before switching to another character. It proves a great way to introduce you to each fighter’s style of combat, and the challenge of adapting to each helps maintain the pacing and keep you on your toes. Character switching is also frequent enough so that you won’t get too frustrated if you can’t gel with a particular one. Additionally, if things do get too difficult, you have the option to skip fights and simply enjoy the journey.

Outside of the story are the usual fighting game modes of single player one-off fights and multiplayer –both online and local. Additionally, a comprehensive tutorial mode teaches you the basics and nuances of combat, meanwhile, a training mode lets you pummel an opponent to your heart’s content, with options for modifying your opponent’s reactions or activating on-screen button presses and Fatality position windows. The Krypt returns, presenting a 3D graveyard for you to explore and unlock additional content – such as Fatalities and character costumes – by purchasing tombs and gravestones with in-game currency you earn in combat. Also the Klassic Tower mode returns, pitting you to against random characters, one at a time as you attempt to climb the tower and become champion.

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Test Your Luck fights activate up to seven modifiers that enhance or hamper both combatants. These take the form of raining meteors and missile strikes that damage you, power ups and health pick-ups appearing in the arena, or even the screen turning black every few seconds, as well as many more debilitating or advantageous effects. This proves a terrific way of randomly shaking up the status quo. Finally, Living Towers are a mixture of Klassic Tower mode and Test Your Luck, having you climb to the top of a tower whilst dealing with the random Test Your Luck effects. Once a tower is complete you can then challenge a friend to conquer the same tower and attempt to beat your score.

Mortal Kombat X’s combat continues its tradition of simple combos with a focus on juggling to deal extreme damage. It’s a well-balanced system that’s easy to pick up and play but difficult to master. Combos typically don’t stretch beyond three or four hits, but multiple combos can be chained together with significant speed to make them seem endless if you’re skilled enough. A power meter at the bottom of the screen for each character increases with damage taken and special moves connecting, offering you the choice to spend one of the three segments in enhancing a special move, sacrificing all segments to break an incoming combo, or spending all three to perform a devastating X-ray move, which brutally maims and mutilates an opponent’s body, breaking bones and puncturing organs in a gruesome spectacle.

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A large roster of 24 characters are available, once unlocked in the main story, with several more imminently available as DLC. Furthermore, each character has three distinct combat styles to choose from that significantly changes how each one fights. Additionally each fighter feels unique, covering a diverse range of martial arts, weapons, and supernatural special moves that makes them all a thrill to use and learn. And with their unique X-ray moves, and a pair of supremely gory Fatalities each, there’s a great deal of variety to experience.

Mortal Kombat X introduces the series to Xbox One with superb results. The level of detail in the environments and characters is eye wateringly good, meanwhile, the fast paced combat doesn’t miss a beat, either offline or online. An impressive roster and some of the most brutal Fatalities and X-ray moves yet seen in the series, alone with a captivating story and intriguing hint at where it might go next makes this an unmissable fighter for the beat ‘em up crowd, meanwhile, the combat’s accessibility should easily tempt newcomers. Mortal Kombat X is brilliant, achieving a balance between technical and spectacle which seldom few other fighters do.

Thanks to Premier Communications and Xbox for supplying TiX with a promotional copy

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