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Smash your friends up in Combat Core

Multiplayer online fighting arena

I'm pretty sure I skipped over Combat Core on release, and forgot to slip it into the "up to 3 friends" section of the "this looks good but" pile. I am a fool.

Turns out it's pretty great. I've not played a Smash Brothers game since the gamecube, despite the daily racket as everyone played it outside the RPS treehouse over the last year. So I may not be the best person to judge, and the famously level-headed fans of that series might politely object, but it hit me in a similar place. Constantly, right in the face. It is frantic.

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There's really not a tonne to it, nor does there need to be, since the fighting is quick and electric and you can get stuck in with some characters right away (the close range ones in particular, as the character select screen encourages you to get stuck in with them and just keep up the aggression. It works great until you meet another brawler). Some characters are quick but fragile, some rely heavily on recharging special attacks and have to just stay alive in between. Some excel at range and are therefore cowards until I play as them and then they're just smart. There's even a single player mode, which works in the traditional beat 'em up way as you confront each fighter in turn, handily beating them until you reach the one cheating bastard cheating cheat it's not me it's the game it's cheating shut up I hate you.

The arenas could do with more variety, even if it's cosmetic, although I did like the boxing ring one with the hologram fences and the hexes that explode if you stand on them for too long outside the ring. That one often ends up with attackers knocking you over but then getting launched and zapped around the arena themselves. I also have a feeling that people who get really into their fighting games might find it simplistic, as you can go very far with just the basic combo attacks and jumping around a lot, but honestly, I tend to lose interest in fighting games when they get too fussy. This is much more my style.

I really want to get a tournament going. That's not like me.

Combat Core is out now on Steam for £12/$16/€16.

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