What a great concept for a game.
Midway is at it again. With Mortal Kombat 4 ready to appear just around the corner, Midway, the company that made its bread and butter on great arcade games, decided to bring this one straight home, skipping the arcades altogether.
Bio Freaks is a great concept for a fighter. It takes synthetically-enhanced, jacked up, organic humanoid forms (many with weapons built into their bodies), who are fully trained to kill and battle to the death, and brings them in to the ring to duke it out. The characters are nothing short of freakish and the arenas they battle in are all post-apocalyptic warehouse type environments, many with moving cylinders, fans , and luminescent acid motes to help quickly end your opponent's death.
The fighting itself is a decent blend of projectile fighting and street fighting, with many a move borrowed from Mortal Kombat. But that's not to say Bio Freaks is anything like Mortal Kombat. It's not. The actual blend of fighting works surprisingly well. Your character has as least two to three projectiles (flames, bullets, acid, etc.), and can access them at any time, but the real key to winning is to mix in a little of each attack, while remaining awaren of your shield effects and hovering capabilities. With such bizarre creatures containing limbs and bodies that look so unusual, it's often difficult to see what's happening in the heat of a close battle, and that can be bothersome.
But like I was saying, Bio Freaks has a couple of things going its way. Hovering is one of them. Hit a shoulder button and watch the camera pan back to open a huge arena in which you can travel anywhere. Many ledges and second stories have been designed in to the game, which adds different levels of strategy and tactical maneuvering. Players can also lunge form the ground or from mid-air to surprise attack, and can pull off harrying moves that literally slice opponents in half, of severe their limbs completely. The game also makes good, seamless use of true 3D fighting with simple side-step maneuvers.
There are 10 initial characters to begin with, and secret characters who can be opened later. The special effects for each ranges from brilliant to above average. Graphically, the game is cleanly programmed, well animated, and shows that Midway can program the PlayStation quite well indeed. Fire effects and smoke are decent, and so is Ssapo's barfing effects, but it's the lighting and particle effects that really stand out.
The character design, although truly grotesque, is original and refreshing, in a manner of speaking. The soft skin technique used to texture the characters is also incredibly well-executed, the result being highly detailed characters with no glitching, clipping, or detrimental graphic effects.
Bio Freaks biggest problem is the same as its assets. The game really isn't a true fighter by any means, and it brings a lot of focus to shooting the dickens out -- or in this case, the limbs off -- of your enemy. The hovering qualities can make for an extra long game full of boring chases and no fighting at all, or a really quick game of mere shooting, which can cheapen the fun. With all of the special fignting effects and blasting you can get your hands on, one doesn't really have to do any hand to hand combat at all. This is a great effort from Midway, but it's not my pint of beer.
Bio Freaks, for sure, is a different kind of fighter, and it's bound to attract many gamers who are tired of the same old Street Fighter-stye game (although I never tire of SF). But no one has really ventured into fighting the way this game does (not with as much success, anyway), and in many ways Bio Freaks is a surprisingly fun game.