Writing on video games by Steve Hernandez

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Revisiting the first level of Fighting Force 2

Developer: Core Design LTD
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation (the one I played the game on)
Release Date: November 30, 1999
Fighting Force was a 3D beat ‘em up that featured five playable fighters. Fighting Force 2, however, takes the leader of the team, Hawk Manson, and puts him in a single-player-only adventure. The game is less of a beat ‘em up and more of a third-person action-adventure similar to Tomb Raider. I have no affinity for it and its plot about a one-man-army taking down an evil corporation. It has about nine levels in total, but I can only recall the first one. As a kid, it was the only memorable thing about the game. Why? I decided to revisit the level to see what aspects of it made it memorable to me. It is set in a steel mill located in Philadelphia, USA. It begins with Hawk descending from a moving train. His mission is to locate and destroy a metal sample called the Tungsten CX. 

The level featured no music. Instead, all I heard was the sound of the train occasionally passing by and the ambient sounds of the steel mill. The latter consisted of steam and a strange sound that I could only identify as an inhuman wail. Later, most of the sounds came from me opening many electronic doors and stepping on the steel floor. Likewise, the sounds that occurred during combat felt downplayed due to how quiet the steel mill seemed. 

Another reason why I think the level stuck with me was its tone and design. The level is enveloped in a dark orange sunset and the interior of the steel mill has predominantly cool colors such as dark blue and gray. This gave me the feeling that the place was both cold and detached. The level is also unusually long and seems to take about twenty minutes to complete. Red is a color that is often associated with heat and danger. As I got deeper into the steel mill, that color became more predominant. I was now entering rooms with far more hazards, such as pits filled with molten and flamethrower-wielding enemies. The final challenge is a boss fight against a sledgehammer-wielding man on a platform surrounded by flames. 

Admittedly, the level isn't that much fun to play. The majority of my time in it was spent defeating enemies and using blue key cards to get past locked doors. The length of the level and its detached tone made it a subdued start to the game. The original Fighting Force began with a brawl in the middle of a city street. The player fought his way into a building to defeat the ostensible villain of the game. 

In contrast, Fighting Force 2 begins in a steel mill that seems isolated from the rest of the world. 

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