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Enjoy Straightforward Beat-Em-Up Action in Nuclear Justice 2084!

One of the first things that developers thought of when creating games for computers was to allow players to unleash a can of virtual whoop-ass on enemies. It may seem like a crude idea, and many would even say that violence should be moderated, but let us face it: we all, at one point or another, enjoyed a nice game of make believe violence. Be it role playing as a sword swinging pirate as a kid, or daydreaming about kicking the shin of that annoying smoker standing in line. Yes, getting your fists smashing into faces may not be what you wake up to in the morning, but it will certainly be a welcome activity with Nuclear Justice.

Okay, we have to admit, most of us did not expect a side scrolling fighter when we first saw the title of this game. Nuclear Justice 2084 sounded like a war-simulation strategy game more than anything else. Still, despite that initial misconception, we were still amused by the game that loaded before our eyes.

Bashing Prisoners Back

The premise of the game works like this: there is a massive breakout at a maximum security jail, and the President and your girlfriend are now in danger. You now have to take on the role of the protagonist as he prevents any of the prisoners from escaping the facility -which he does so by beating the living daylights out of every single one of them. And there are plenty of them to beat up -which actually makes us wonder whether the area is truly a just prison or some bizarre cloning facility that uses prisoners as guinea pigs. Anyway, prepare to deal with swarms of orange garbed wannabe-escapees as you protect the main exit from being overrun by the baddies.

It all sounds rather rudimentary, and also leaves several questions hanging. But the story is not really the point of this game, and players will be happy to know that narrative is all but dropped well within the first couple of minutes of throwing the first punch. Once you get past that, the game finally gets into stride.

They Shall Not Pass

In some ways, Nuclear Justice feels a lot like a very simplified tower defense game. Only this time, you do not have a tower, just a single man and his fists of fury. The game allows you to upgrade the local defenses in two ways: you can arm up some guards and have them protect the door. Or you can invest in some dangerous floor puddles of oil or poison (fortunately, you are immune to these so you can step on them without any problems). The rest of the defending lies on you to punch, elbow, kick, and headbutt these escapees until their life bars run out.

If an opponent manages to slip past you, it will start attacking the large exit door. You can still stop them at this point and as long as the door's health holds up till the end of the wave, you will be fine. Of course, some opponents will choose to fight you instead of heading straight for the exit -this means that you will have to hit faster and harder to keep them from bringing you down.

Having the door lose all of its HP results in a game over, but if you lose all your health, you will simply respawn after a few seconds (and that few seconds that you are not on the field bashing heads is penalty enough for dying). To keep either of these two from happening, you can also invest your post-wave upgrade funds for increasing your movement speed, health, attack power, and door health. Also, you can spend a small amount of funds to replenish any lost health for you or the exit door.

Movement is done with the directional keys and attacks are a combination of the Z and X buttons. The X button provides light attacks and the Z button is a heavier attack move. Combos are basically combinations of the two keys. Players start out with only a few combo moves available but as they progress through the game, more are unlocked. While this sounds good, in the actual game, it is unlikely that you will be pulling off the really long moves -basically, enemies die too fast for a long combo to be worth it. As for bosses, they simply do an unstoppable move in the middle of the combo which interrupts your own attacks.

A Little Better Than Usual

Nuclear Justice 2084 lacks many of the visual touches we would have wanted to see, such as destructible backgrounds, interactive objects, more attack animations, and more importantly, variety in terms of the enemies you fight with. We swear; every stage will drown you in an army of clone enemies that are a lifeless as zombies. And the fact that they are all clad in orange does not help either. Sure, the game does toss in a few variants, such as some have Mohawks, others are wrapped in chains, some wear glasses, and a few even run around in straightjackets. Too bad the developers missed out on creating interesting enemies that would either tear the sleeves off their suits or have some with plenty of facial tattoos.

That aside, the graphics work on a very functional level; the health bars are easy to distinguish and you can pretty much tell if you can hit an opponent from your current position without having to worry about the foreground to background distance. Anticipating enemy attacks is easy thanks to the simplified animation and it is rare for your character to get hit by an attack from an off-screen source (which is a massive bane of many side scrolling platformers).

The backgrounds are unnecessarily tame -and this is a disappointment because you will be stuck in a large room for most of the game. You do not have to travel much, since your goal is to stop these prisoners from escaping (as opposed to reaching a destination). This means that you will be stuck in the same place for the most of the game. Sure, the area does change a bit as you progress through the wave, but it could certainly have used more fun details for players to appreciate.

The music is a little more tolerable -the BGM is basically a generic punk rock riff that loops over every few minutes. While hardly an issue, you may eventually find yourself wanting to turn off the speakers out of boredom. The sound effects also add little to the gameplay. The biffs and pows that you hear from landing successful attacks feel light and hollow -which takes away the general satisfaction on gets when pulling off a strong attack.

Rinse and Repeat

Getting through Nuclear Justice 2084 is a matter or perseverance. While the game is pretty enjoyable for the first few waves, it eventually gets old and repetitive. The inclusion of new moves and enemies in the later stages will spice things up a bit, but not enough to provide a truly remarkable experience. The biggest downfall is that maxing out on your upgrade hardly changes the way you can play the game (which is actually something that the devs missed out on -having max upgrades on other titles usually means you get to change the perspective of the play in regards to playing the game). In the end, there just is not content for players to enjoy. If you can tolerate a bit of repetitiveness, then you might be able to make it to the very end of the game. If not, then expect to be amused for a good twenty minutes before opening a new browser tab.

The Verdict

Considering the fact that the game could be so much more, Nuclear Justice 2084 certainly fails to live up to expectations. Still, there is a game here that is still worth trying out (even if you do not bother to finish it). There are other beat-em-up titles that are not as polished in terms of combat (like the Hobo series), and those actually managed to be successful. This means that NJ:2084 still has plenty of life ahead of it and hopefully, sequels that fix the problems of the first. For its mediocre graphics, music, and gameplay, this little head bashing game get decked a few massive points. We give this game a knife throwing escapee's 80/100.

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