Urban Reign

STORY:  The story of Urban Reign follows the exploits "brawler-for-hire" Brad Hawk, who is hired to find a kidnapped gang member by the scantily clad swordswoman Shun Ying Lee. Brad fights his way through the street gangs of Green Harbor, a fortified city in the U.S.. As he does so to get some answers, the true machinations of the protagonists reveal themselves and things become more complicated.

Urban Reign's fun gameplay & smooth animation may surprise you.

REVIEWIn early 1999, Capcom introduced Power Stone, a new take on the fighting game formula. Power Stone introduced "free roaming" gameplay mechanics, interactive backgrounds and items, and fun multi-player gameplay. It appears it's Namco's turn to unleash their own take on the free roaming fighting game engine. After watching Urban Reign's hilariously awesome intro, you'll be able to tell that this isn't just "any" random street brawling game you might've played before.

With a tone very similar to Capcom's classic Final Fight, Urban Reign features a wide variety of fighters, ranging from random street thugs to flashy martial artists, to badass Triad members and Yakuza bosses. Some fighters seem thrown in just as "fillers," but quite a few of them show off some well-thought out and entertaining fighting styles (some based on authentic martial arts, like the TEKKEN series).

Speaking of TEKKEN, Urban Reign actually borrows quite a few animations from likes of TEKKEN 5 and Soul Calibur III (when weapons come into play). Namco's charismatic and high quality martial arts animation gives Urban Reign an instant edge over all others in the "beat-em-up" or "party game" genre. From the extra 'omph' that attacks have when they connect, to the dramatic and satisfying way characters react when they get hit, Urban Reign's animation definitely mirrors Namco's hard-hitting franchises! Not to mention, there are a ton of unique attacks and combos that truly sting when they connect. The "ouch factor" enjoyment is strong in this game.

We got Eddy gordo combos up in here!

Urban Reign doesn't just wow you with impressive fighting animation and call it a day. The Story Mode offers an ambitious amount of content, presenting you with 100 missions which can be played 1-player or cooperatively with a human partner! All in all, there are somewhere around 60 characters you'll run into (all of which you can unlock and use in multi-player). Urban Reign also packs an entertaining 2-to-4 player free-for-all VS mode, which of course distinguishes it as it's own "fighting game" entity (in turn, giving it the right to be featured here on TFG).

In this era of fighting games, Namco not only set the bar for 3D fighters, but for street brawlers / beat-em-ups as well (although you can't say there's much competition out there nowadays). Back in the 80's & 90's, I loved arcade beat-em-ups like Bad Dudes, Double Dragon and Final Fight. As sort of a successor to those classics, Urban Reign is honestly one of the best 1-player "beat-em-ups" I've ever played.

Some players might not give Urban Reign the respect it deserves, and just mash buttons like they do in some other "fighting" action games out there. However, players that look deeper will find a surprisingly solid fighting system. There are a variety of different striking options, grapples, ground attacks/grapples, a dodge button to evade incoming attacks as well. The characters themselves don't have the very deep movelists, but the ability for characters to freely move in the environment, pick up weapons, throw objects, co-operate with partners, and pull off moves on multiple opponents at once makes up for the lack of complexity in some areas.

Some of the fighting mechanics, include: dodges/counters, tech-rolling, double team attacks, insane combo possibilities, tons of throws and grapple/wrestling moves (which look ages better in this game than in most wrestling games) and of course, free roaming around a variety of environments. Furthermore, characters have the ability to "run fast" while free roaming which enables special abilities like sweeping, running up walls, or even running "up" other characters. There are also unblockable moves that make oddly you invulnerable while you attack. This is probably the biggest "quirk" of the gameplay, but in the long run, it's actually an effective gameplay element and makes for some pretty fun mind games. Thankfully, you can also "lock on" to your opponents, which is a key element in learning how to play properly.

Karate guy caught the pipe and beat that ass!

Urban Reign's ability to bring 4 or more players against each other really makes it shine. The fact that Tekken's Paul Phoenix & Marshall Law are featured in the game is also a nice touch (but also leaves us Tekken fans wishing for MORE characters from Namco's staple franchise). The character variety of Urban Reign is decent, although many designs are simplistic and "bland". However, considering Urban Reign's "realistic" setting, those simple designs make sense and seem to fit. However, there are definitely some "star" characters that stand above the rest, both in terms of looks and how they fight. Typically, the martial artists are the best fighters (just like in real life).

Urban Reign
's presentation is lacking in some areas, but it gets you right into the action without wasting time. Prominent story missions feature short, yet entertaining cut scenes, most of which supply decent and funny dialogue throughout. The story isn't as fleshed out as it could've been, but something about it has a certain "humorous yet serious" charm. Also, all the missions are the same... just kick everyone's ass. (Nothing wrong with that I guess?) Through playing Story Mode as the protagonist, Brad Hawk, you'll level him up RPG style by powering up his attributes after each victory. You'll also unlock new moves for Brad, enabling more complex fighting mechanics as you advance through Story Mode. In the end, the gameplay is where it's at, and Urban Reign good times if you give it a chance. I mean, who doesn't enjoy beating up on wannabe gangstas with TEKKEN characters?

Page Updated: April 24th, 2023
Developer(s): Namco
Publisher(s): Namco
Platform(s): PlayStation 2
Designer(s): Masahide Kito   Director
Hirofumi Motoyama   Producer
Release Date(s): Sept. 13th, 2005   
Sept. 29th, 2005   

Feb. 9th, 2006
Characters Brad Hawk, Shun Ying Lee, Paul Phoenix, Marshall Law, Kadonashi Shotaro, Douglas McKinzie, Dae-Suk Park, Dwayne Davis, Chris Bowman, Napalm 99, Alex Steiner, Jake Hudson, Grimm, Glen Kluger, Tong Yoon Bulsook, Kelly Bowman, Vera Ross, Lilian Evans, Lin Fong Lee, Shinkai

Featured Video:

Related Games: TEKKEN 5, TEKKEN 5: Dark Resurrection, Power Stone, Power Stone 2, Castlevania: Judgment, SoulCalibur 3

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  8.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.0 / 10
Animation  9.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.0 / 10
Innovation  8.0 / 10
Art Direction  6.5 / 10
Customization  6.0 / 10
Options / Extras  6.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  8.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  10 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10

 8.4 / 10



Final Words:

Urban Reign is a surprisingly fun and underrated little gem of a game. I think many mainstream sites naturally overlooked it and didn't appreciate the game's unique attributes, which is one of the main reasons I decided to feature Urban Reign on TFG. Personally, I ended up enjoying Urban Reign a lot more than some of the other "mainstream" 4-player party games of the time. (Yes, I'm looking directly at you Smash Bros). Required to experience Urban Reign to the fullest are 3 things:

#1) A PS2 multi-tap.
#2) 2 to 4 friends who enjoy violence. Bonus if they know how to play Tekken or other fighting games.
#3) Knowledge of the gameplay mechanics and how to use the characters properly. (Don't button mash for 5 minutes and then say the game sucks, stupid).

Unlike some mindless "beat-em-up" titles out there, you can actually improve as a player in Urban Reign. There's definitely a level of strategy and mind games available in the multi-player modes. On top of that, the animation and "ouch factor" is just off the charts. There's so much action going on at times that the fights may almost appear to be choreographed at times (and won't fail to entertain any onlookers).

Of course, Namco fighting game fans will be treated to many references to Tekken and even Soul Calibur in this title. If you're a fan of the way Tekken and Soul Calibur characters move, and how hard they hit, then you'll love Urban Reign. So anyway, where's my next-gen, online-enabled Urban Reign 2, Namco??? Bring it back!!!! If not, I'll even be happy with Urban Reign HD Online.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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