This PS2 exclusive took me back to the days of the arcade classic Final Fight – basically a game where you roam the streets as a hard-as-nails renegade beating the living daylights out of cliché bad guys. From the masters of beat-‘em-up games Tekken and Soul Calibur, Urban Reign certainly looked promising – however the end result is difficult to recommend to everyone. There are over 60 unlockable characters overall, but you start off on the Story Mode as Brad. Brad is your typical one-dimensional muscle-head with the personality of a caged wolverine, but he proves to have a soft-spot when he runs into Shun Ying Lee – a curvaceous lady in trouble with the Chinese mob (she also owns a restaurant).
So after some background info (most of which I immediately forgot) you embark on 100 kicking, punching, throwing missions through streets, dojos and rooftops. If I don’t sound excited – its because this game really doesn’t offer much more than a sequence of three button presses and a lot of frustrated swearing. What does save this game however is the impressive “team-play” modes where an AI partner joins you allowing for co-operative combos and teeth-shattering double-up moves. Also – as you’d expect from the Tekken creators, the fighting and grappling animations are both rewarding and fun to watch with each character having a different style of fighting including wrestling, karate, brawling, capoeira and more. The 100 Mission storyline sounds daunting, but was a relatively painless experience apart from the occasional level where you have to struggle to beat a typically cliché half-gorilla/half-man freak armed with an axe. In the end, the story mode took just over 2 hours to beat but the unlockable extras kept me interested. Apart from this, there are also Challenge modes where you can use your 60 unlocked characters and team them up for street carnage. Weapons and the environment can all be used to your advantage and of course, in typical fashion your characters can be upgraded. For fans of the Tekken series (you can unlock Paul Phoenix and Marshall Law) or general beat-‘em-up games, Urban Reign is an attractive and slightly addictive shame that will most likely appeal.