The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
After such a loving tribute to old-school brawling from
WayForward in Double Dragon: Neon last year, it's hard to see the property
treated like garbage by a completely different developer and publisher. No,
Double Dragon II isn't a sequel to Neon. It's a remake of the original arcade
game in which Billy and Jimmy took a break from their blue and red outfits and
invented the legendary hurricane kick. It's also darker than the first Double
Dragon. Here Marian gets shot dead at the beginning instead of kidnapped.
In this new interpretation, players fight as Marian for a few
minutes before she's killed (the second co-op player has to sit and watch), and
then the Lee brothers take over. They look like complete tools and all of the
enemies are completely generic with zero personality whatsoever. Instead of
keeping attacks on a traditional horizontal plane, 8-way fighting makes the
combat feel sloppy and cheap. You may be able to punch at guys in all
directions, but it also leaves you open to attack from all of those angles
(instead of just from the left and right).
Extremely basic punch and kick combos join an elbow and block
for the core moveset. Even if you try to work with the mechanics by timing a
nice block and counter attack on one foe, some other idiot will always be
around to kick you in the head from another angle. Holding down the right
trigger will initiate power attacks, but they sure don't feel all that
different outside of slowing things down briefly. The dodge move doesn't work
consistently, rendering it useless. Why didn't the devs think to put dodging on
the completely unused right stick?
Simply turning around in this game is a hassle as your
character does a backstep first before finally performing a 180. This may not
sound that bad, but precision is everything in a brawler, and there's no
justification for this clunky choice. Special moves like the spin kick,
fireball, and super combo try to bring in a Double Dragon feel, but how many
you can perform - and how long it'll be until you can do it again - is poorly
communicated. To top it all off, if you use any of these special moves in the
game, you get the bad ending.
The 15 stages are stretched out concepts of the original four
levels (heliport, lumber warehouse, farm, and hideout). It's a never-ending
string of boring, ugly environments with the same reused character models
thrown at you over and over. Sometimes the beatings are broken up with such
intriguing tasks like mashing on buttons to keep an elevator moving or trying
to jump over a pit of acid. I thought the core fighting was bad, but any
attempt at reaching outside this comfort zone results in activities even more
uninteresting or infuriating. The new take on the runaway farm equipment
section will really boil your blood, since it works horribly and also sends you
back to a checkpoint instead of resurrecting you on the spot as the game does
at all other times.
Outside of the core story mode lies the useless survival and
versus modes. Here you can fight more waves of idiot goons or battle your
friend as the Lee bros, Marian, or some guy named Jeff. The only online element
of the game is leaderboard functionality, so don't get excited about teaming up
with or fighting against players from around the world.
There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to Double Dragon
II. The only people I can recommend this to are gamers that enjoy hate-playing
the worst stuff just to make fun of it or Double Dragon fans who can't help but
play every release no matter how terrible.
Email the author Bryan Vore, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.