Iron Phoenix© Sammy Studios
First Impressions by Ryan Delaney

Fighting games have always been about the multiplayer game, two players going head to head with the winner being decided by who was quicker to the buttons and how well they knew the combo’s and special moves for their character of choice. This has been true of almost all fighting games since the original Mortal Combat and Street Fighter games. A few developers tried the concept of tag matches but it still came down to two fighters. Well the team behind Sammy Studio’s Iron Phoenix is about to change that with 16 players at once. I was fortunate enough to join some other members of the Gaming press to talk to some of Iron Phoenix’s team members about the game.

Before we get into any of the features to be found in the game let me give you a little of the back story on the game. During ancient times a meteor struck the earth and 9 weapons were forged from the core of this meteor. These weapons were granted special powers and have been stolen, and it’s your job to find them. Now the plot is nothing new, but then again the plot has never been a make or break thing for a fighting game.

Now one of the first things the team mentioned was that this will be a weapons based fighter, and that the weapons will dictate the move sets and combos, not the character chosen, in fact the character choice will have little to no impact on overall gameplay. The weapons are all based on real life Chinese Weapons and styles and extensive motion capture was used to capture the weapons being used by a trained Kung Fu practitioner. There will be 20+ moves per weapon and all combinations are created on the fly by the players so there is a good chance you will not have 5 different players doing the same 5 combo’s.

The combat in the game is something that has the potential to be a very fun thing to watch as well as participate in. Not only has the team gone to great lengths to make the combat look authentic, but they have also made it something fun to watch by adding touches of Asian Cinema to it with the potential for combat to take place in the air (think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) as well as on the ground and even off objects in the world.

Speaking of the game world, the levels will be a nice mix of very open areas along with more compact areas that will make for some chaotic gameplay when all 16 players are on the map. Just because the game has incredible potential for multiplayer action the team did not skimp on the single player game. The single player game will be very lengthy with unlockables and multiple story lines to give players good reasons to go through things more than once.

The control scheme for the game is something I think more games need to concentrate one because of the complexity of today’s game controllers. The controls for Iron Phoenix are arranged very well for a fighting based game. All combat is controlled by the buttons on the right hand portion of the controller, and all movement including jumping it attached to the left analog stick.

This game was described to me by one of the developers as a cross between a fighting game and an action game. With the large scale multiplayer fighting and the deep single player game I can see the blending of both the genres mentioned. Cross genre games don’t often live up to their potential, but I believe that this team may have one of the games that does make it, but that will have to wait till the final release to see if it turns out to be true.