22nd May2018

‘Raging Justice’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

Raging_Justice_screenshot_XboxOne_2

As a thirty-four year old, I’m the perfect demographic for Raging Justice, a game that harks back to a time in the mid-90s when visuals were determined to be digitalised after pixels had ruled games for so long. Yes, visually Raging Justice has more in common with Batman Forever, Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat than Streets of Rage 2 or Final Fight. Gameplay wise, however, Final Fight is the touchstone here with a touch of Maximum Carnage.

The story of  Raging Justice is a pretty straight plot of three characters (two cops and a streetwise teenager) cleaning up the streets by punching people in the face (and occasionally arresting them). The controls are easy to get to grips with the four face buttons on the Switch allow you to punch, kick, throw and jump your way through the levels, of which you can work through in either single or two player campaign modes. There are also challenges on each stage such as arresting a specific character (you can be a good or bad cop) or completing a level within a certain time, etc.

Aside from the very specific graphical style, Raging Justice feels quite bland, unfortunately. I grew up with these games in the arcades and still enjoy playing them with friends today but this feels like a game that may have been released towards the end of the nineties in the arcades, which is no bad thing in itself, but it comes with the limitations that would have applied back in the day. Everything about the game is very direct. The sound effects wear on you after a while as the characters make a grunting sound with every punch (and you punch a lot), so you’ll hear the same effects over and over with little variation. The music is great and evocative of the genre’s 90s heyday and in fact is probably the strongest part of the game.

The usual tropes apply, you can pick up weapons to smash or throw at your enemies and there are occasional vehicles that you can use for a brief time as well as a dodge mechanic and the classic spinning move that depletes your health but is a necessity when cornered. After playing the game for only a few minutes, I could already feel repetition creeping in. The variety of enemies feels lacklustre and boss battles are a chore and feel too lengthy, there’s no snappiness to the game in this regard, it’s usually a case of dodging the enemy as they do a wild, lengthy location-filling spin attack and then diving in and giving them a kicking when they are knackered. The character models are nice and big but this causes its own issues in that the floor space can become crowded quickly with the amount of enemies and even with friendly fire turned off, the players still hit each other, it just doesn’t take off any health but you still cause the ‘attack’ animation to happen and so ends up feeling like you are constantly getting under each other’s feet as you battle your way through the stages.

After reading about the history of the game, it’s clear that Raging Justice has been in development for a long time and has some serious talent behind it with ex-Rare employees making this a labour of love. This is clearly the end product that was worked towards and not rushed out. If you really love the genre and are hungry for more of the same then you’ll find hours of enjoyment in Raging Justice but I can’t imagine it winning anyone else over…

As someone who is old enough to remember the pinnacle of side-scrolling brawlers the first time around, I’m intrigued as to what a younger player would make of the genre now, and Raging Justice in particular as a new title.

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