Reviewed: December 27, 2002
Released: November 13, 2002
Have you and your friends ever thought that you could make better characters, moves, and combos than the creators of Tekken, Mortal Kombat or even DOA? Ever just wanted to have your own custom character to beat all your friends senseless with? If so, then guess what? Agetec is giving you a second chance to travel down that path with Fighter Maker 2.
Anyone who enjoyed the first Fighter Maker can stop reading this now and just go buy the game. This is a solid remake, with a more expanded fighter creation system (over 260 variables to customize the appearance of your fighter) and 600 pre-designed moves. The really good news for those of you with the first game is that you can carry over the original library of 800 moves from the original for a total of 1,400 hundred moves to play with and you havenít even started making any of your own.
In addition to all of these bonuses, Fighter Maker 2 uses a Real-Time Motion Edit System that will ďfill in the blanksĒ when you are creating your own moves, throws, and combos, so instead of having to create them one frame at a time you can create only a few frames in the sequence and the computer will fill in the movement between them. You can also set the frame rate and (my personal favorite) the damage of each of the moves assigned to a character.
All right, so now that the converted have been preached to, it's time to sell those of you who donít already know what youíre missing. Iím not going to lie to you; this isnít a game you pick up, stick in, and go. There are six pre-made characters that come with this title, but thatís it. You have to make more, and it will take more than just a cursory glance at the instruction manual and five minutes tweaking some settings to make one. Just designing your characterís look will take you at least fifteen minutes and when youíre done with that you have to design how he/she/it will walk, run, stand, and fight. You have to design everything from the ground up, donít let this discourage you, just know that a lot of work is involved before you can play. The pay off is worth it, if you know what youíre doing.
Fighter Maker 2 is not something to pick up on a whim. It is about as user friendly as a brick careening toward your head at close quarters, and thatís after youíve read the manual. If you have religious issues about reading manuals, or just lack the security in your manhood to learn new things, then this game will be about as fun to you as that paperweight on your desk. I cannot stress how much the creation portion of this game comes down to simple trial and error and going to the effort of learning how the system can be used to put things together.
That having been pounded into your head I will say that this system allows a wide range of freedom and complexity. Not only do you design the simple moves (punches, kicks, etc), you also build all the combos into your character providing a wide latitude for following up that skull splitter with a blow to the groin or just a simple front snap kick. There are also up to three different stances available to design into your characters with moves and combos that can only be accessible if your character is in that stance. In essence, if you think you can put together a better character than that tool of a Chinese cyborg from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance then this game will let you have at it. You can have three styles in one character, or just one style that gets successively harder and meaner. The choice is yours and thatís ultimately the draw.
So you know how to make all the punches, flips, and ultimate spinning death wheels; itís time to give this unstoppable force a name and look to strike fear into the hearts of men. This will take a little time because you have so many options. Pants, shirt, shoes, hat, wristbands, socks, gloves, theyíre all here, which makes this eventually regress into Dress-up Barbie for guys. It is great to have all of these options but thereís nothing to speed up the process. Familiarity would help you get to what you want faster, but it still comes down to scrolling through all the choices.
This wouldnít be so bad except for two things: one is that the load time between one object and another is a little excessive, I mean you canít go and hit the kitchen for a sandwich when you change from pants to shorts, but it does get to feel like you have to download each one from a busy 56K modem. The worst thing about this is the views that are set up for you during this whole segment of the game. Iíve seen better interfaces on character creation for skating and BMX games where the camera automatically focuses on whichever part of the character you are altering. Here you have static angles, and while they do allow you to customize several different angles, the camera angles and field of view are very restricted. Itís hard to get anything like a good angle on the head or feet.
Now you have your Ryu-killer built, styled, and just itching to put the beat on your opponents, but are you going to enjoy playing him? The controls are slightly unsophisticated by modern standards with only about three buttons being used, so you feel like your controller just took a vacation, but the simplicity is welcome. Despite this the interface seems clunky and stiff. Itís entertaining and not very difficult, but also not quite as fluid as experienced fighters will be used to.
This game just seems to lack a bit of polish. Itís not that the graphics are bad, they just arenít as ďfinishedĒ as most games currently are. There are a multitude of jaggies and pixellations not only on the characters but in the backgrounds as well. Speaking of which, the arenas look nice, but are also kind of thrown together and pretty much typical of the genre. There is a lot of fluid motion in the game and while the interaction between the fighters isnít always the smoothest (clipping problems do crop up on occasion) they do move very well.
Additionally, the designers have gone to great lengths to provide you with quite a few original outfits. My personal favorite of these is the Kappa outfit -- turtle shell, with clawed feet and hands Ė though I havenít yet found a way to make your character pull his opponentís intestines through the top of their head. For all of these options they really let things fall through with body types. You get either male or female and thatís the end of the story. There is no big guy body type, and whatís a fighting game without a massive, brawler?
Donít look for any amazing energy effects, fireballs, flaming punches, or other special attacks. This is a very bare bones fighting game. Increase the damage all you want, but you wonít be doing too many juggles, fatalities or other cinematic moves.
Again it seems that the programmers believe that the game can be carried on the originality of the concept and put little effort into anything else. This is the major section of the game that was overlooked in favor of character creation. Take a bunch of basic punch and kick impact effects, shake well with a few grunts, groans and ďHiyaís!Ē and there is your sound mix. Nothing else grabs your attention. This is understandable though because theyíre trying to use a finite range of sounds to cover the infinite realm of your imagination. So eventually youíre going to see a lapse somewhere in the sound department, if not immediately then at some point down the road.
The music is also overlooked, so itís hard to comment on. Thereís just not enough to form an opinion. Basically think of this as a construction project, itís not the prettiest thing, and the best sounds are going to be coming out of the boom box next to the foreman, unless you like the pounding of a jackhammer.
This game is designed with value in mind. The whole idea is that you spend time developing characters to beat the stuffing out of your friends' characters. There is a nearly infinite variety of combinations at your fingertips and as many attacks as you can design, so the replay in this title is as much as you can stand. Much of this depends on if you have friends that are as interested in the idea as you, or if you are just really interested in martial arts or game creation. Any of these qualities in excess would make sure youíd get your moneyís worth; otherwise youíll enjoy it, but just not as much.
Also, for a game thatís supposed to be all about giving you the ability to make fighters of your own the designers only let you save four characters per memory card. You can make all sorts of cool characters but you can only keep four of them. At least they let you keep more than one, but youíd figure you could do better than that with the power and memory capabilities of the PS2.
What bugs me about it is that there is a decided lack of guidance and you are literally thrown into the deep end. What really disappoints me is that Fighter Maker 2 is like taking the skeleton of a good game and letting you manipulate it and saying thatís good enough for a game. Iíd much rather see a game that was good enough to compete with games like Tekken and DOA and then give you the ability to manipulate the characters. In other words, if youíre going to make this type of game make it so no one wants to buy another fighting game unless itís a sequel to yours.
I like this game, but Iím also well within itís target audience. Fighter Maker 2 probably scores higher as a construction set than a game, but if you have the patience to stick with this title for the long haul your fun and fascination will be limited only by your imagination. Just keep in mind that ďsome assembly is requiredĒ.