Spikeout Battle Street Hands-On

We spend some time with Sega's gritty third-person brawler for the Xbox.

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TOKYO--Spikeout Battle Street is the upcoming Xbox action game from Sega based on its Spikeout arcade franchise. The game is a 3D beat-'em-up that has you clearing the streets of thugs, much in the same spirit as the old-school 2D side-scrollers from back in the day. Battle Street will build on the franchise's arcade roots by throwing Xbox Live functionality into the mix. Sega showed off a work-in-progress version of the game at its Tokyo Game Show booth, so we naturally had to see how it was coming along.

The SpikeOut franchise has, since its arcade debut in the late '90s, offered a retro gameplay experience that's been a welcome mix of 3D graphics and 2D-style slugging action. The premise is pretty straightforward: Rival gangs Team Spike and Team Inferno have some bad blood between them that can only be settled by fightin'. The game will send you all across a massive city environment to kick tail on behalf of Team Spike.

The TGS demo let us pick from four members of Team Spike, which covered the gang archetypes you'd expect. Once we settled on a character, we hopped into the game and began beating the crap out of everything we saw using punches, kicks, special moves, and throws. All the different characters have his or her own unique handling, such as variations in strength and speed, which should offer enough variety for players looking for a fighter to suit their particular playing styles.

The game's structure is simple. You'll enter an area, clear it of enemies, and then follow the onscreen prompts that will direct you to move forward. After smashing a gate, you'll progress. You'll also encounter a boss character and some elite thugs every so often. The areas will fill up with assorted enemies, who pop from various directions as you make your way through the game. Thankfully, your opposition doesn't consist of a horde of mindless thugs that line up to be beaten down. You'll notice that the different enemy types all have unique behaviors that you'll have to compensate for to make any progress.

The graphics in the game look good and improve on the appearance of the arcade titles. The main characters are big and tough--even the lone selectable female veers dangerously close to "man-lady" territory--and they all display a solid amount of detail. Your enemies are slightly less ornate but do feature unique animations to convey their personalities. The environments are large and include some interactive elements, which is nice. The frame rate is pretty solid and didn't appear to slow down much, in spite of how much was happening onscreen.

From what we played, Spikeout Battle Street seems to be shaping up well. Besides the offline mode we tried, the final game will include Xbox Live functionality, such as online play and downloadable content. Spikeout Battle Street is currently slated to ship early next year for the Xbox. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2004.

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