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The idea of a multiplayer online fighting game is certainly provocative. When Iron Phoenix was announced last year it raised all sorts of eyebrows. The game promised weapon driven combat, a single player story mode, and the ability for 16 players to duke it out on Xbox Live. With each viewing, the game's feature list raised more questions than answers, but after playing the scaled down final version we are finally able to deliver a verdict.
Iron Phoenix was embarrassingly and arrogantly debuted in early 2004 by the erstwhile Sammy Studios as a (no kidding) "new genre." Well, sorry guys. I said it then and I'll say it again now: Iron Phoenix does not invent a new genre. What it does is marry together two very popular and enjoyable ones -- fighting games and first-person shooters -- with limited success. If you casually enjoy these, you'll probably be able to squeeze an amusing rental out of Iron Phoenix. If you care about the deeper strategies and mechanics of either (or both) then, well ... good luck!
The fighting genre has typically been about one-on-one contests. Occasionally, you see it try to break out with something a bit bigger than that, though the results have been mixed over the years. Four-player fighters, like Super Smash Bros. and Power Stone, may not have had the complexity of a more traditional fighter, but they provided some fighting game thrills without much of an investment. But once you go over four players, the air gets a little thin. So far, the only game to pull off the concept is One Must Fall: Battlegrounds, a little-known PC game that allows up to 16 players to duke it out online. Iron Phoenix tries to pull off a similar concept--16-player online fighting--but with its surprisingly awful fighting mechanics, busted-up frame rate, and bare-bones gameplay, Iron Phoenix is just a colossal waste of time.
Iron Phoenix is, for all intents and purposes, a piece of software. It comes on a disc, it fits in your console, and it executes a program onscreen. It’s when you try to apply other familiar labels to it, like “game” or perhaps “entertainment”, that the title runs into a snag. For it is on these fronts that the title fails to offer any redeeming sense of skilled combat or functional action. It’s by avoiding basic tenets otherwise common to games, like a story for instance, that Iron Phoenix impales itself on its own blade and falls forgotten where it lies. Am I being unclear here? Iron Phoenix is not a good game.
Games with online components usually have you coming back for more. I mean, what better way to pass the time than to prove you have a bigger e-penis over 15 other people just by clobbering them with a hammer? Alas, I don’t feel the need to come back with this game. In fact, I felt done with this after the very first time I played it. It was not fun, it was confusing, and I question how whatever higher powers in the sky managed to let this turd slip under their radars and onto store shelves. I’ve got better games to play with my time, thank you.
Don't go giving me those glitchy puppy dog eyes, either; you know what you did. The saddest part is the fact that any money wasted on you could have been spent on a real game.