17th Oct2017

PLAY Expo Manchester 2017: ‘Raging Justice’ Hands-On

by Phil Wheat

raging-justice-hans-on

I’ve been playing games for over 30 years, from my very first home computer back in the mid-80, the ZX81, to my current consoles, the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, and in all that time, like may other gamers, I’ve come to know what games I’m good at and what games I’m not. And more importantly, what games I love and what games I hate. If all those years of gaming have taught me anything, its that I absolutely ADORE platform games, fighting games, shmups and side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups. I have a vast collection of games from those particular genres ranging across a wide variety of consoles old and new…

And, despite the growing catalogue of new games I have to play, and often to review, I still constantly revisit those titles that shaped my love of those genres. And when it comes to side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups that includes games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, The Simpsons Arcade Game (you could even thrown in the TMNT and X-Men arcade games here too, as they play very much the same), TMNT: Turtles in Time, Burning Fight, Double Dragon, Battletoads… I could go on and on. Why am I telling you this? Well this years PLAY Expo Manchester played host to a game that I’m 100% certain will, from the brief demo level I played, join that pantheon of revisited classics.

Raging Justice is a brand new IP from MakinGames that is at once a throwback to those games of old and a breath of fresh air in an era of stale COD clones and AAA titles that do nothing but disappoint. Plus it looks stunning and plays fantastically – bear in mind, this is no “retro” game, more an updating of a genre for today. And as a fan of the genre I could have played the demo shown at PLAY Expo Manchester over and over and over and over… In fact I nearly did! Especially considering that whilst there are the standard beat ‘em-up tropes within the game, the developer has added extra challenges to make completists, like myself, play levels over and over – including having to arrest a number of enemies rather than just beat them to death and finish a level, and defeat the final boss, within a set time limit.

If you’ve ever gone back and played those old beat ‘em-ups you’ll realise that some of them are, compared to today’s games, a little (shall we say) clunky. From the slow gameplay to the awkward controls, some of those now-classic titles just feel “off.” Thankfully Raging Justice feels NOTHING like that – in fact it feels like the developer has realised that was the downfall of those older titles and done everything possible to correct that flaw! The controls are ultra-responsive and, thankfully, very intuitive. Without so much as a single instruction players will pick up how the combat works within seconds – and for those experienced with genre titles such as this, a little experimentation in button and d-pad combos will unleash moves that look somewhat familiar… Backwards elbow/arm to the face anyone? Smacking the guy behind you in the midst of beating up the guy in front of you hasn’t felt this satisfying in years! Oh, and did I mention the ability to pick up numerous objects to devastate the myriad of enemies intent on beating you up? From the traditional knives and baseball bats, to fire hydrants and trash cans, everything you can lay your hands on will help you get passed the waves of punks, deadly dames and slimy street thugs.

Graphically Raging Justice looks, at least to me, like a combination of Capcom’s Final Fight and the Neo Geo “clone” of that game, Burning Fight (which had larger character sprites – as seen in Raging Justice); only with a level of detail that adds an extra element of grittiness to the game. These are not overly polished character visuals – the characters look as down and dirty as they need to be, reflecting the urban landscape in their design. Speaking of characters, our two leads: Nikki Rage and Rick Justice, are complete badasses! Rick Justice looks like Duke Nukem has stepped out of his FPS franchise and into this 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em-up world, whilst Nikki Rage is the video game embodiment of Pam Grier’s blaxploitation career!

I honestly couldn’t be more excited for a new game as I am Raging Justice. I said it after I played the demo (well, I actually wrote it on the graffiti wall on their PLAY Expo stand) and I’ll say it again here. Raging Justice kicks Streets of Rage‘s butt! Why? Because it’s a perfect combination of everything that made SoR, Final Fight and Double Dragon so, so, good; whilst improving on everything that made them what they are… classics of the genre.

For more info on Raging Justice check out MakinGames.com

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