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Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.

Rated M for Mature

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Midway

Developer:

Saffire

Released:

May 1998

ROM Size:

128 Megabits

Players:

One to Two Simultaneous

Genre:

3D Fighting

Save:

Controller Pak (3 pages)

Optional:

Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

Introduction

Bio F.R.E.A.K.S., which is an acronym for "Biological Flying Robotic Enhanced Armored Killing Synthoids," is the latest 3D fighting game to grace the Nintendo 64. This violent and dark game was originally scheduled for release in the arcades, but Midway opted to make it exclusively for the home market. Too bad it was never released in the arcades, because it's got some highly original characters and some slightly different gameplay to differentiate itself from the pack.

Gameplay & Control

Although Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. offers some gameplay that is at least partially original, there's just not enough strategy, technique, or replay value to sustain the interest of hard-core fighting fans. It is, however, a fast, fun, and furious fighting game for those who don't like fighting games that much.

 

The control in Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. consists of Left Punch, Right Punch, Left Kick, and Right Kick (the default has these as the C buttons) and also consists of a fire button for projectile attacks and a thrust button for going airborne (the default is A and B). Because it's a 3D fighting game, you can also dodge attacks and sidestep with the L and R shoulder buttons. You have your choice between the Control Pad and the Control Stick, too.

 

So how does the game play? Well, the two most important aspects of the gameplay in Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. are the fire button and the thrust button. Being able to shoot out projectiles at the press of a button kind of takes any strategy out of the gameplay. On the other hand, there is the thrust button. No fighting game before it  has taken interaction to this level. By using your specially equipped rocket pack (every character has one), you can fly to and fight at different parts in the levels, including upper and lower ledges, and can perform special aerial attacks. You can only use the thrust function for a limited time before it needs to be recharged, though. Furthermore, you also have to be careful so that you don't fly into any of the arena's traps, like acid pits, lava pools, crushing mechanical machines, etc. Additionally, you have a Shield Meter to contend with (it only works for a few seconds at a time) and a probability of lost limbs. Ever wanted to fight with only one arm and blood squirting out of the other? Now you can.

 

Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. contains several modes of play. You can choose from Arcade, the standard one-player mode; Vs., the two-player mode with handicapping features and the ability to pick the battle arena; Survival, which has you fighting as far as you can without losing; Practice, which as one might expect is the (albeit pretty nice) practice mode; and Team Battle, which enables one to two players draft up to five fighters to see who has the last fighter standing. There's also an Options mode that lets you toggle the difficulty, controller configuration, gore factors, and more.

Graphics & Sound

The first thing you'll notice about Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. is the fantastic graphics. It's been a while since a game made me drop my jaw in awe. I was literally blown away when I saw real-time introductions of the game's original and awe-inspiring fighters for the first time. Before each match, there is a random real-time introduction for each character displayed, showing them walking into the arena, flaunting their weapons, or taunting their opponent. Incredible. Fortunately, the in-game graphics are nearly as impressive.

 

Unlike a lot of other recent fighting games, the freaks in Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. are well-animated. In fact, that's probably an understatement. Considering the character design is arguably the best in the 32/64-bit generation, it's even more impressive that the characters are animated smoothly and have lots of detail, such as facial expressions, limping, bodily extracts, and lost limbs. The arenas are well done, too. You'll find bleak environments with detailed backgrounds and arenas that often contain lighting effects. Furthermore, there aren't really any graphical problems like clipping.

 

There is a downside to the graphics, however. When the fighting starts to heat up with lots of action on the screen, you'll notice that the characters often quickly flash and lose their detail—and then the characters look normal again. It seems as if the designers decided to remove the character's texture mapping, at times, in order to keep the action fast. It does look a little funny for the split-second it happens, and this does take place occasionally throughout each fight, but I think the trade-off is worth it since there isn't any slowdown.

 

The sound in Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. is also good—except that the music is in mono! I suppose the character design and graphics took up the majority of the 128-megabit ROM, so there probably wasn't much space leftover for the sound. The tunes sound much like the music in Rampage: World Tour (another Saffire-developed game). It's hard rockin' and fits the grunge-like theme of the game, but it would have been much better in stereo. You'll also find that some of the arenas have crowd sounds that do come out in stereo and sort of provide a sense of immersion. Finally, many of the characters have quick one-liners that are pretty cool. The rest of the sound effects are nice as well.

Conclusion

After the initial wow factor of the graphics, character design, and extreme violence wear off, Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. shows its true colors as an above average fighting game that's short on strategy, balance, and replay value, but long on fast, fun action. It ranks behind Fighters Destiny and Mortal Kombat 4 as the next best fighter on the system, but that just means there's another Tekken or Virtua Fighter-like game the N64 doesn't have.

 

Graphics:

4.7

Sound:

3.7

Control:

3.6

Gameplay:

3.4

Lastability

2.9

OVERALL:

3.5

 

DOWN THE ROAD

With Midway shooting itself in the foot by releasing Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. a month before Mortal Kombat 4, it's no surprise that Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. had its price reduced in a few short months. Ironically, the game probably best appeals to Mortal Kombat fans, and most of them missed this unique, violent fighting game. So if you're looking for a non-complicated, fast, fun game with lots of blood and gore, then Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. might be a game to consider. It is still, unfortunately, one of the top three fighting games on the system.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: June 18, 1998

Appendix Added: October 19, 1998

 

 

 

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