Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style Review
Activision is rolling out another great title to the long list of their Playstation games. Thanks to their partnerships with great development teams, they have been able to release some of the industry leading games in technological performance and unique gameplay. The perfect example is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater that revolutionized the way skateboarding should be. If you look into Activision's line of games, it is pretty clear that they have not put any time into the fighting games. But their list just got better with an addition of a meticulously designed fighting game that features one of the most popular Hip-Hop groups.
Before the game was finished, knowing that Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style will feature a four player fighting action, we though it would be hard to fight with four characters in the same arena. But we were proven wrong when we tried out playing four people at the same time. During the four player mode , the frame rate remained very smooth and the characters were not slowed down. The animated characters were designed with a goal to keep them looking as real as possible. This is not the game where the fighters are blocky and you can see every polygon in the body. Every fighter here is very well rounded and has an excellent level of detail. The arenas are not the biggest we have seen, but they were built with the limited amount of RAM in mind. It really not the amount of RAM you have, it's what you do with it.
Looking at the aspects of the gameplay, in many ways it reminds me of the Tekken series, but Wu-Tang is much looser in terms of navigation around the arena. You can roam around each stage easily without the need to press any extra buttons. This feature makes the gameplay feel like its real because of the full 3D navigation. Every fighter has a finishing move that is performed automatically at the end of every match. Once your opponents life runs out, the screen freezes and starts a 360 degree rotation. After the rotation you will experience a Mortal Kombat type finisher that will spill every drop of blood possible out of the defeated opponent. If you keep on winning with the same character over and over, the same finishing sequence could get annoying and you can only stop it only after the 360 degree camera rotation ends. But I must mention that you can learn more finishers as you go through the Story Mode.
Executing good moves and combos is not easy at all, especially if you are not good at fighting games. Once you master the moves, the game gets much more interesting. To help you with the learning curve, the Practice Mode is very good and it teaches you every move and combo that is packed in the game. Every move is measured for the total amount of damage it makes to give you an idea of what to use in your battles. These moves will be especially helpful in the Story Mode which reaches a point where some bad guys are almost impossible to beat. The Story Mode uses the game's ability to render four players on the same arena to create battles like 2 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2 and even 3 vs. 1. At one time or another, your friend or two will join to fight a tough opponent, but at times there will be matches where you go against three guys at the same time beating on you from every possible angle. After and during the fights, your member of the Wu-Tang receives a chamber. These chambers open up when you do something special like beat a special enemy, or perform a good combo. On the way to finding the boss, there a total of 36 chamber to collect that will give you bonuses like extra characters, more finishers and other extras. In the beginning you are given a choice of nine Wu-Tang members but as you play the game, there are 12 more hidden fighters to collect to give a total of 21 characters.
If you are a fan of Hip-Hop or like Wu-Tang, then the soundtrack alone will make you go to the store and get this title. It packs three exclusive tracks in addition to many other known tracks. The three tracks are the only music releases by Wu-Tang in 1999. Now lets look at the sound effects. The voices could've been much better than they are now, especially after the fatality sequence when they quote something, it is hard to understand the wording.
Control is very good considering that you have to move the character in full 3D environment. The direction is usually not a problem because you are automatically facing someone during the fight. Dual-Shock is supported flawlessly but there is no Analog support.
Now looking at the big picture, it is clear that the four player action will attract many of the hardcore fighting gamers. The great soundtrack makes the game very unique without taking away from the gameplay. Wu-Tang were incorporated into the game perfectly and added to the story. If you are concerned about the violence, the game by default starts out without the fatalities, blood and other violent features. To turn on the violence you will need to enter the Parental Lock Bypass code that is in the manual of the game. Wu-Tang forever!