Latest Game Reviews

Death by Degrees Review - PS2

45%
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The Tekken series is one of the most well-known and popular line of fighting games out there. Deciding to expand upon the series and take the franchise further, Namco developed and has brought to us Death by Degrees, an action adventure game featuring Nina Williams, one of the least-known Tekken characters but a Tekken character nonetheless. While initially appearing to be a good idea, the final product that has emerged from it only serves to show that the Tekken series should’ve stayed in the genre it was born into.

Gameplay

Spend just a few minutes with Death by Degrees and it becomes apparent that the game is largely a collaboration of recycled ideas, from the mediocre storyline involving a terrorist faction to Nina herself, only chosen for the part due to her stereotypical perfect body, large breasts and incredibly agile fighting techniques. We’ve seen it all before.

As you wander through the game’s various locations - which consist largely of bland rooms and maze-like corridors - it takes on the sort of gameplay style that you’d expect from a survival horror game which, as you might’ve guessed, doesn’t go terribly well with the game’s focus on fighting.

Controlling Nina is tedious not only on foot but underwater, and just as frustrating is wandering mindlessly and having to check a map every thirty seconds in order to locate your objectives and figure out which way to turn next. Making this exploration worse is the frustrating camera and terribly large amount of loading screens that you’ll encounter as you progress; the game needs to load almost every time you go through a door, down some stairs and even before and after the frequent assortment of cut scenes that attempt to outline the confusing and poorly-told storyline.

The fighting in Death by Degrees - obviously one of the game’s most prominent areas - is tedious and frustrating due to the terribly ridiculous control method used to control Nina. While the controller’s face buttons sit assigned to inventory-based functions, the Right Analog Stick is used to attack; Nina will throw a flurry of acrobatic kicks in whichever direction you push it. This simply feels unnatural, and alternating between pushes and taps of the analog stick in order to block and evade is difficult. Thankfully the grab move, which allows you to grab and throw enemies, is assigned to the R1 button, partially removing the need to use the Right Analog Stick. Despite being unique, the game’s fighting system only helps to further ruin the gameplay by inducing, as mentioned above, tedium and many frustrating moments.

If it was all about basic fighting, though, the game would be even more mediocre than it is. For this reason Namco included a critical hit point system; as you fight, a meter in the corner of the screen will fill. At it's peak a special move can be unleashed, allowing you to target a certain point on an enemy’s body. As with everything else about the game, though, ... (continued next page)