Bloody Roar 3 Hands-On

The latest game in the fighting series that lets you morph into wicked animals is coming to the PlayStation 2, and we recently got our hands on a demo version of the game.

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Originally unveiled in arcade form at this year's JAMMA show on Namco's System 246 hardware - Bloody Roar 3 seemed at once a logical PS2 port. This has indeed been announced for the PS2, and we've gotten our hands on a playable demo of the game.

Bloody Roar 3 features the same gimmick as earlier installments in the series: fighters who morph into animals. The beasts take many forms: One of the game's fighters morphs into a bunny, another into a mole, and the others into wolves, leopards, bats, and more. Each character has a specific set of attacks in human form and gains a few when the shift occurs.

As before, a rage meter mediates the metamorphoses. As battles progress, the bar gradually fills. Once full, you're able to assume your bestial form, which beefs you up significantly and allows you access to more powerful attacks. Characters in beast mode are significantly stronger and faster than those in human form, so knowing when to shift is a large part of Bloody Roar's strategy.

The PS2 version of Bloody Roar 3 seems to be coming along nicely. While no truly significant changes to the series have been made, the game is as visually polished and fast paced as it ever was. That alone should be music to the ears of long-time fans. Those nagged by the wonky side-stepping feature found in Bloody Roar 2 will be pleased to know that this third installment has made adequate reparations - sidestepping is now as easy as hitting the L2 button and moving in your desired direction. This seemingly insignificant tweak will grant the series the pacing it was once known for, as all sorts of battlefield dances are now possible.

Our demo features four playable characters - Uriko, the darling lass who turns into a cat-beast; Marvel, the sultry leopard-woman; Yuko, a wolf-man; and Bakuryu, the mole-boy. All the characters look great and animate very briskly, which gives the game an untypical fast pace. The camera constantly shifts and zooms, and this grants you dynamic views of the battles, as it alternates its focus on the robust characters battling it out. Particle effects are in no short supply, especially during attacks by metamorphosed characters. All in all, the game seems to be looking quite keen.

While no US publisher has been announced, we're quite sure - given the popularity of the series - that someone will pick it up. Bloody Roar 3, in any case, is due out for release this spring in Japan. A North American release shouldn't follow too far after.

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