From its subject matter to its execution, Beatdown is just horrible. A real-time strategy game that purports to depict a life of crime in the hood, it sends you through a career path of linear missions that center around muggings, buying and selling (and using) “Street Candy,” recruiting new gang members, and, needless to say, a ridiculous amount of murder.

Now there is plenty of potential in the depiction of gang culture. Kingpin: Life of Crime and Grand Theft Auto more than prove this, but the concept falls apart when applied to  Beatdown. The trouble starts the second the game installs, with an appalling cinematic that lets you know straight away that the chief influences on this game are brainless movies and bubble-gum gangsta rap.

snap521Gameplay manages to be simultaneously sordid, boring, and glitchy. The missions could not be less imaginative. You’ll never have to worry about much more than wandering around the very small map, mugging targets of opportunity, “beating down” challengers to your turf superiority, and maintaining your drug contacts through the immersive process of clicking on them. It’s a testament to the designers’ lack of ability that these simplistic missions are still damn near impossible – they all break down into a mass brawl as waves of gang members challenge your guys.

Ultimately, your meager interest will have waned by the end of the third mission or so. It doesn’t help that the isometric map view hides huge chunks of the action in the spaces between houses, nor that the enemy AI is never more compelling than “circle and attack,” nor that the police in the game have a distinct tendency to walk ignorantly past the carnage. I can only assume the designers meant this as a joke, but it’s not funny. And neither is anything about this remotely fun.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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