I had high hopes for MakinGames’ Raging Justice.
Having first sampled it at an EGX event some years ago, it took me back to the days of avidly playing SEGA’s Streets of Rage. And now the final product is in my hands, it still does at times. It also has its own fair share of frustration and tedium, however.
Raging Justice is a 90’s-styled side scrolling beat-em up through and through. The visuals, though more advanced than the likes of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, have that same exaggerated style. You know what I mean; certain thugs have muscles that look like they’re growing their own muscles, others look like they’ve just come off a dance music set, and ladies are scantily clad. I mean it in the nicest possible way, but Raging Justice looks like the product of a bygone era. It sounds like one too, thanks to a lack of voice acting.
In keeping with the old-fashioned theme, Raging Justice‘s story is conveyed by still images and text boxes. Though you probably won’t really pay any attention to it, and you don’t need to. This is a game all about action, and it has an abundance of it. After selecting one of three characters, each with their own moves, you’re set for nine levels of punching, kicking and armed violence. Each level is quite short, but the sheer number of thugs thrown at you means that they can quite often take in excess of 10 minutes to complete. At least on your first attempt, anyway.
Raging at the screen
Even on Raging Justice‘s easiest difficulty, dubbed ‘Wimp’, it’s challenging. Step up to normal difficulty and you’ll find your skills truly tested. And the final ‘Tough Guy’ difficulty is suitable only for those with balls of steel. There’s one particular boss who’s quite troublesome, thanks to his penchant for calling his friends in way too often. And you can’t dish out any damage to him while his underlings are still vying for your blood. Late in the game, it’s just general groups of enemies that pose the most threat though. In old-fashioned side-scrolling beat ’em up fashion, early game bosses are thrown at you as standard enemies. Sometimes three or four of them at one time. Add in yet more thugs, armed with knives, hammers and more, and you have a recipe for frustration when you start to get beaten down.
At times Raging Justice just feels unfair. Fighting a screen full of thugs is enough of a tall order, but when you’ve got to do that while being mindful of gluttonous enemies charging at you, others throwing projectiles at you, and sometimes having objects like girders dropped on you, it’s all a bit too much. There’s something quite alluring about the chaos, but yet it steadily wears you down. If you’re playing Raging Justice from beginning to end in one sitting, which will likely take around 60-90 minutes, you’ll be glad when the credits roll. The final few levels are honestly quite exhausting.
Unlike side-scrolling beat ’em ups of old though, Raging Justice has a fair deal of replay value. Employing an arrest system, thugs can be handcuffed and taken into custody once stunned; you don’t need to beat them all into a bloody pulp. Alongside a number of challenges, each level also has multiple arrest warrants for notable thugs. Identified by their red outlines, arresting these miscreants increases your ‘good cop’ rank. Conversely, finishing them off with some unnecessary violence swings you into ‘bad cop’ territory. The problem is, reliably getting enemies into a stunned state is troublesome. And even when you do, arresting them is sometimes nearly impossible due to interference from other thugs on the screen.
Those with perseverance are likely going to want to complete all of Raging Justice‘s stages as both a good and bad cop, if only for achievements or trophies. And adding yet more reason to go back to the game is Brawl mode, which throws waves of enemies at you in a range of settings. It’s the game’s co-op features which really give it legs though. Raging Justice is a game that’s much more fun when you’re dragging a friend along for the ride, though be aware that there’s no online multiplayer. Sat playing on a couch, with friendly fire enabled you’ll have a riot, occasionally downing each other in the middle of a heated melee. But for those who like to play it safe, friendly fire can be turned off.
A game with soul
So, has Raging Justice lived up to my expectations? Mostly, yes. While it’s occasionally frustrating and the arrest system is hit and miss, I can’t deny that it’s a lot of fun to play. Being a fan of the genre, I’ve played a lot of side scrolling beat ’em ups over the years, and Raging Justice comes closest to replicating the joy I felt playing the likes of Streets of Rage, Final Fight and Golden Axe as a youth. It’s far from being perfect, but it has soul. Suffice to say, if you’re also a fan of the aforementioned titles, give Raging Justice a go. It’s bound to entertain.