Pride FC

Review

posted 3/28/2003 by Ben Zackheim
other articles by Ben Zackheim
One Page Platforms: PS2
Ultimate Fighting as a sport is relatively new. Imagine a fighting pit where two huge guys go at it with skimpy gloves as their only protection against blows that range from headbutts to knees in the groin. That’s the future of sports entertainment, so you might as well get used to it now. It’s huge overseas and is growing in popularity here. My guess, is the only thing holding it back are the UFC’s lawyers who are combing the books for legal recourse to throw willing men into unscripted harm’s way on national television. The sport actually combines some fascinating fighting styles that are intriguing to see in practice. To the new viewer it looks like the fighters just slam on each other. In fact these guys are pros and are as much, if not more focused on defense and strategy as they are on making the other guy bleed. What they do is tough and cerebral.

I found this out by playing Pride FC. It’s not your standard console fighter.

Pride is a strange thing. It can make us do stuff that, if we used our heads, we would realize are damaging and destructive. But pride blinds us. It forces us to believe in absolutes. I guess you have to have a lot of pride to get into a ring where you KNOW you will bleed. And I suppose you need a lot of it if you’re going to get sweaty with another half-naked man in front of thousands of people. Look, I’m all for watching grown men grope each other and cut off opponents’ oxygen with their buttocks. But ‘watching’ is the key word here. It’s fun to watch but is it fun to play?

I was frustrated by PFC at first. The controls are simple enough, with four buttons controlling your arms and legs. But I was wanting some quick action, and in this game that’s a formula for failure. Believe it or not, you have to think to fight. If you run into the center of the ring and start swinging, you’re going down.

I’d say I played around two dozen fights and lost them all before I realized I was probably missing something. Banging on the controller desperately to try to get out from under an opponent’s armpit is not fun to do; and you SHOULD NOT do it in Pride. I only found this out after almost throwing the game in the trash. My epiphany came when I was knocked to the mat and started fighting from down low. My opponent loomed over me but seemed cautious so I started swinging my feet and getting contact with his shins. Slowly I took him down in energy until he was on the mat with me…face down.

Oh I see! From that moment on I was hooked. I discovered the fine art of holding my opponent in a tight bear hug. I explored the joys of riding his back and raining blows upon his crown. Pride FC requires an exquisite patience. It’s not like boxing, or even wrestling. It’s more like two lions circling each other, waiting for the best opportunity to attack. The game does a wonderful job at forcing you to use your controls sparingly, smartly. If your opponent charges you can time the hit right to make him back off. Or you can step aside. Or, if you’re stronger, you can advance into him as well and see who gets who down on the mat.

Once on the mat, you need to use defense as well as you use offense. You can try to struggle free but it’s a tough move that will have you checking your energy bar to see if the strength is there to do it. Whether you have the guy pinned or you are the pinned, you need to be mindful of your openings. One false move and he’s got you. The suspense that can build in the longer fights is really fun and had me hooting and hollering as often as it had me kneeling in front of the television, silently focusing on when to strike. The only complaint I really have is that I knocked a lot of guys out by kicking them in the shin until their “Vitality Gage” went to zero. That’s no fun.
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