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In Memory
Sean Pettibone





Metro 3D's promising title Stake is an interesting four-player fighting game that's about to hit Xbox. The game features excellent character design, large interactive environments and smooth graphics, wrapped up in an excellent presentation. The question is whether Stake can compete with the big boys like Tekken and Dead or Alive. We take a look and see if Stake can survive this upcoming battle. 

Small developer Metro 3D

The presentation is more than a little reminiscent of Power Stone because the action takes place in the third-person perspective with large free-form environments that take the action to a variety of locales. In addition to allowing plenty of freedom, the environments will also have many items that players can pick up and use against their foes. Some of these include: Grenades, Ice, gasses, Hot oil, Flaming Statues, Rocks and other items. Players will be able to select from one of eight unique characters. Each of the game's characters will have their own unique move-sets and magic abilities that they can call on. Additionally, they will be balanced with unique defense, speed and anger power levels, which will play a key role in the strategy of each battle. This should give Stake plenty of depth and should satisfy fighting game fans. There will be a number of moves to master that should give it plenty of longevity as players try and master each character's techniques.

In addition to the standard fighting game, Stake will include several different game modes for both single and multiple palyers. These should add to the replay value with single and multiplayer modes available. One of the most intriguing features of the game is that Stake will support up to four players simultaneously with Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes that sound like loads of fun. Stake will implements a split screen for these modes. Unfortunately, direct online play won't be supported, which is a shame. However, Stake will support online connectivity through Xbox Live with additional characters and arenas to download, which sounds like a cool feature. One caveat: Given the difficulty Microsoft itself has had implementing this feature with MechAssault, this may not happen smoothly right out of the box. Still, it's a nice bonus if it happens.

Stake's smooth frame rate and top-notch visuals look impressive, and should take full advantage of the Xbox console's rendering abilities. Each character in the game will consist of 4,000 polygons, which should add to the game's visual punch. Additionally, special effects such as real-time lighting and shadows should make the game look even better. Stake's presentation will be slick, with smooth camera movements and animations throughout. This should keep the action fast and visceral. The game's characters have an appealing look heavily influenced by anime and the design of the arenas and environments is impressive. Stake's free-form fighting approach will only become more effective with a powerful graphics engine offering with smooth frame rates and excellent detail. The impressive graphics, multiplayer modes, interesting character designs, and the open-ended interactive fighting environments sound impressive. At this stage, it seems to have all the ingredients for a solidly enjoyable fighting game. Stake seems to have some cool ideas and if they're implemented well-enough, this could be a sleeper hit. While it probably won't sell as many copies as the latest Dead or Alive or Virtua Fighter games, this might be able to carve out a decent audience amongst gamers in the know. While Metro 3D is a much smaller developer, this might lead to a more interesting game with a unique feel. While the big boys are battling it out for the traditional fighting fans, it should be interesting to see how Stake stacks up against Microsoft's similarly themed Kung Fu Chaos in this skirmish. Still, this sounds like an interesting game and its one Xbox owners might want to keep an eye on this spring.