I've got a relative who seems to make a lot of bad choices when picking out video games. Whether it is picking out a mediocre football game or a horrible fighting game, it always seems to be something. This time around, it's the Xbox game STAKE, a four-player fighting game along the same lines as POWER STONE and KUNG FU CHAOS.
I'll be honest: I loved the original POWER STONE on the Dreamcast. It was one of my first purchases for the system and I really enjoyed playing the game, especially with three friends. POWER STONE 2, while much of the same, was just as fun. The game had a certain freshness to it that just caught my attention. Unfortunately, since then, any game that has tried to take the ideas that made POWER STONE a good game and use them hasn't been that good. Yeah, KUNG FU CHAOS was okay, but it wasn't good. And Metro3D certainly didn't do it with STAKE.
In STAKE, you take control of one of eight legendary fighters, fighting three other AI or human players across large arenas. If I haven't said enough, the game plays like POWER STONE, which basically is mashing one or two buttons until your fingers are numb. Unlike in POWER STONE, where there was some precision needed for special attacks, none can be found in STAKE. The fighting is slow and relatively boring when it should be fast and action packed. Of course, you've got combos and special moves, but none of them look good or are easy to pull off. Also thrown in are power-ups and the like, but are just there mainly for show.
And why is there no System Link or Xbox Live support? No one wants to sit around with four-player split screen trying to figure out what is going on in the game. And the only reason there is four-player split screen is because the levels are so large, which is something else that Metro3D could have done without. The giant levels are obviously there for show, as there is no reason to leave the combat area anyway.
STAKE is also a pretty bad looking Xbox game. I'm not exactly sure if Metro3D thought that this game would sell because of its gameplay, but there wasn't much effort put into making this game look good. I've seen better on the PSOne, and even the original POWER STONE on the Dreamcast looks better than this.
Is there anything really redeeming about this game? Well, you do get to listen to your own custom soundtrack (a feature that should be included in EVERY SINGLE GAME). Other than that, the regular music sucks and the sound effects are barely there.
I think STAKE is one of those games that, if groomed correctly, might have been a fun game. I'm not sure if there was a deadline for the game and the developers just slept through the development process or something, and threw something together at the last minute, but this can't be what Metro3D was hoping for.