STREETS OF RAGE 4
Meet the newest crime-fighter looking to clean the streets
PUBLISHER DOTEMU DEVELOPER LIZARDCUBE, GUARD CRUSH GAMES, DOTEMU ETA TBC
Despite being announced in August last year, we’ve had our fingers tightly crossed for an official word that this beat-’em-up sequel is coming to Xbox One. Well, we can finally put our fingers to better use now, because our wishes have just come true. No release date has been given, but just knowing we’ll be able to play it on Xbox is good enough for now.
Next to nothing is known about the story, either. All we do know is that despite all the criminal ass-kicking of the previous games, it seems to have done little to make Wood Oak City a safer place. Gangs of thugs and punks continue to plague the streets, and series stalwarts Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding are back to finish what they started by kicking them all to the curb. During the gameplay demos we’ve seen, we caught sight of returning bad guy Shiva, the previous game’s Mr X’s right-hand man. Does this spell the return of the original trilogy’s antagonist, or is Shiva in cahoots with another crime syndicate? The other boss was see, Diva, who has an affinity for snakes, might allude to this. We’ll have to wait to find out.
Streets Of Rage 4 looks absolutely stunning. The lovingly hand-crafted 2D art and flowing animations that are reminiscent of ’90s Saturday morning cartoons are courtesy of Lizardcube, which previously worked on the equally beautiful remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap.
No amount of footage shown can do the game justice, however. You can, of course, tell that a lot of love and care has been put into the character designs and animations, but it’s only when you’re playing the game that you can truly appreciate it. The characters feel weighty and their movements organic, with each hit landed feeling solid and powerful. Even their clothing moves in a natural way. Honestly, we could spend hours just staring at the characters’ idle animations.
Cherry Hunter is the latest character to be joining the squad of street soldiers. Daughter of original crimefighter Adam Hunter, Cherry was trained in self-defence by both her father and Axel. Initially, she wished to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a police officer, but found a passion for music and now plays in a rock band. She still seems to find time to fight crime, though.
As well as your standard combo moves and grapples, each character has unique abilities. Axel gets a new flaming uppercut – as he engulfs himself in flames, the fire condenses into his fist and he launches an attack that leaves behind a scorching whirlwind of fire. Blaze has a new, almost mystical ability, where she performs some sort of ritual, complete with glowing eyes, damaging anyone caught in the blast radius. Cherry comes with her own unique moveset, using her guitar as a literal axe as she smashes it down on the enemy. Her special has her sliding across the screen on her knees while thrashing her guitar, sending enemies flying.
There is still another character to be revealed, but sadly it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a returning one, unless of course they’ve had a significant makeover. In the promotional art there’s a silhouette of another character sporting what looks like a mechanical arm. There may even be yet another character to be revealed, in the same image there is what looks like an obscured fifth person in the background. It looks like our fingers are crossed once again - this time for Adam Hunter to make a return. ■
“It’s only when you’re playing the game that you can truly appreciate it”
LEFT Axel and Blaze have had redesigns, but they’re still instantly recognisable.
ABOVE The pixel art has been replaced with a gorgeous hand-drawn style from Lizardcube.