Raging Justice – PC, Xbox One, Mac and Mobile

A nostalgic side-scrolling beat-em-up of the sort that filled the arcades of old, albeit with HD graphics and ear-splitting HD audio.
The visuals are 2D and pre-rendered but they
look great in HD thanks to the use of modern
graphics techniques.

From Streets Of Rage to Raging Justice, it may seem that the sidescrolling brawler hasn’t changed much over the past 24 years. Here we have a three-level demo packed with thugs that can be dispatched in numerous ways thanks to a wide range of combos, items dotted around that can be picked up and used, and some fiendish end-of-level bosses. Deja vu, anyone?

But there is no shame in harking back to the Eighties and early Nineties as long as you bring something new to the table and that’s what Raging Justice does. It may pay a nostalgic, cheesy homage to the genre with its ‘continues’ and maverick cops called Rick Justice and Nikki Rage, but it also seeks to move the brawler into the 21st century.

Developer Nic Makin tells us that beat-emups have been “sorely in need of updating” and you can see the steps being made to improve them. There is a modern soundtrack made for surround sound systems composed by Steve Burke and high-definition 2D visuals by artist Jay Howse, which deliberately provoke fuzzy feelings for the pre-rendered look used in games such as Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct.

On top of that, the controls correct past ‘wrongs’: there are four buttons rather than the traditional two, with one set aside for picking up weapons and another dedicated to jumping. As you bash the enemy into submission, you can make a choice: carry on hitting them in order to knock them out or just arrest them. Your decision will indicate if you are a good or bad cop. Genius. There is also a greater sense of maturity in the gameplay. The enemy AI has various patterns and strategies that you have to learn to defeat and the characters develop as you play the game, with bosses mixing things up. “We are introducing new gameplay as you play through – riding the Tractor on the Junkyard level has been a highlight of the shows,” says Makin. It also helps that you can simply pick up and play the game. It’s so accessible that there is no tutorial section; to insert one would be to patronise gamers of a certain era, we feel. “Every part of the game is designed for the sake of enjoyment, from how the player fights to the enemy AI, to the weapons and the vehicles,” says Makin.

He also says there are some features which will not be included from launch. Online multiplayer, alternate game modes such as a Bar Brawl (where players must survive wave after wave of enemies) and new playable characters are planned to come later. As it stands, though, it’s beating a strong path to our hearts.

Although you can pick up weapons and
wallop the enemy thugs, as a cop you can arrest the
criminals instead of smashing them.

Developer History:
Kameo: Elements of Power 2005 [360]
Perfect Dark Zero 2005 [360]
Kinect Sports 2010 [360]

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