Way of the Dogg
Take rhythm games, Snoop Dogg and add a ridiculous story involving time travel and you get ‘Way of the Dogg’. There has been no promotion from 505 Games about Way of the Dogg, and the first time I had heard of it personally was upon its Xbox LIVE release. Part Wu-Tang: Taste the Pain and part Parappa the Rapper, Way of the Dogg is a shoddy title which offers the average gamer no thrills.
Way of the Dogg stars America Jones, a street fighter who is unbeatable in the ring, until a suspicious match where, despite being at the top of his game, AJ is beaten to a pulp, and his girlfriend shot dead. Shortly after, AJ begins investigating the murder of his girlfriend, and is led to Snoop Dogg, who is enlightened in the ways of life. Life, you see, is made of beats. A person’s heart beat, the noise in the street and everything else is comprised of beats which travel forward through time. To tap into his potential as a fighter, AJ must learn the way of the Dogg, and master his own beat.
While it may sound like a clever gimmick for a rhythm based fighter, there is no further exploration of “the way”, and instead the story is comprised of bland animated cutscenes, which resemble a graphic novel. There are your usual stereotypes, the pot-bellied, moustachioed and corrupt cop, the facially-scarred (and therefore evil) rival fighter, a white businessman who owns the entire city and plays the ghetto against itself, and even a Chinese kung-fu master who possesses supernatural abilities (and looks to be 100 years old). After AJ tracks down several suspects, he discovers that the man who owns most of the city has the ability to travel through time, by using a watch which amplifies the heartbeat of the person wearing it. He then decides to track down the villain, steal the watch and travel back in time to save his girlfriend, all under the guidance of master Snoop. Even for a video game featuring a rap artist this story is ridiculous. You can probably find enjoyment in how ludicrously silly Way of the Dogg presents itself, but its honestly pretty awful.
Fights are made up of button-matching sequences set to Snoop Dogg’s music. Correctly matching button inputs will build power, and the person who has the most power at the end of exchanging blows then hits their opponent with a power move. This is where the game is hilarious, and for the wrong reasons. The fighting moves are the absolute worst I’ve ever seen in a game, and I mean ever!
In Tekken, (thanks to Namco Bandais research and enthusiasm) the different characters fight under different fightings styles, and use their respective moves. In Way of the Dogg, characters backflip, uppercut, push and throw their enemies in the most nonsensical fashion ever. There are no different facial expressions when they are hit (except maybe for them occasionally closing their eyes) and the characters look like action figures in the hands of a small child, awkwardly colliding back and forth, with no obvious winner until the end of the fight.
At first, the game seemed unbelievably hard. I’m no stranger to rhythm games, but Way of the Dogg has button matches that are actually out of time with the music. There are also times where you have to hold a different direction with each button pushed, and even at times combinations of off-time analog twists and spins. I don’t know a lot about developing video games, but if you make a rhythm game, you had better have a good sense of rhythm.
I can’t put my finger on whether the developers of Way of the Dogg were just lazy, or simply boring, as the characters are the most basic and boring characters I’ve seen in recent memory. AJ himself wears a yellow T-shirt tucked into blue jeans. Now when was the last time you saw a fighter, or a gangtsa wear a yellow shirt and slim fit blue jeans? Its obvious that Way of the Dogg was developed by boring people, with little to no knowledge of rap music, fighting, or hip hop culture.
The graphical style itself is cel-shaded, but when met with bland design, the cel-shading seems to emphasise how boring this game really looks. There are no bugs or texture pop-ups, though, so at least there’s one nice thing to say about how the Way of the Dogg looks.
As this is a music game, I feel I should probably address the game’s soundtrack first. I did enjoy my first four or so fights in Way of the Dogg, but after those first few fights you encounter the exact same songs again. There is only a handful of songs from Snoop’s catalogue of songs, and they begin to grate on you after the fifth or sixth time you’ve heard them.
The voice acting is actually pretty good in WotD, with the exception of snoop himself, who I assume was rather stoned a the time of recording. It felt as though he was reading his lines of a crumpled scrap of paper, and that he had to decipher someone else’s messy handwriting. The rest of the voice acting cast don’t do too badly, considering the lines they were given were pretty much drivel that has been said in a ton of low-budget TV action movies.
- A decent challenge
- Unintentionally hilarious.
- Can be difficult, and buggy mechanics doesn’t help.
- Off-time button pushes really irritate.
- Lazy writing and art direction.
- Repetitive soundtrack.
Way of the Dogg is entertaining for the first two songs or so, and only for its accidental humour. It feels cheap, looks bland, and contains a repetitive soundtrack that every hip-hop fan has heard hundreds of times before. When comparing Way of the Dogg to other games, it simply isn’t up to par, and doesn’t deserve to be released on any digital marketplace. It feels like a mobile phone game, and not a made-for-console game. It might not be the worst game I’ve played on Xbox LIVE lately, but its still a steaming pile of shizzle.
Score – 04/10