The launch of the Playstation Move back in September was accompanied with a handful of casual titles, but the more hardcore gamer was left out. Sure, we had titles such as Heavy Rain, MAG, and Resident Evil 5, but these were updates of existing games that many had already played, and were not Move specific.
This week saw the release of The Fight: Lights Out, from Sony Entertainment and ColdWood Interactive, to fill that gap and it certainly does that well.
In The Fight, you create your own bare-knuckle fighter to take on the ranks of opponents in a pyramid setup, across various locations in Los Angeles. The initial customisation options available are limited, but as you progress through the game, and deal with your numerous opponents, you will unlock additional items that you can then buy for your character.
Throughout your career, and I use that word in the loosest sense as there is no actual career mode to speak of, you are accompanied by your mentor Duke, played by Danny Trejo. The casting of Trejo in the role of Duke is a work of genius, and he fits perfectly with the games dark, gritty visuals, although Trejo is often more hilarious than the intended seriousness as he demonstrates the various moves while holding a pair of glowing Move controllers and yelling at you.
After creating your character, you are taken through the initial calibration of the controllers. The first time you do this, the process takes a couple of minutes as you point the controllers at the Eye camera, and go through various poses.
Further calibration is also required between each fight, and training event, and while some may see this as a laborious task, the process is shorter than the initial calibration and soon becomes second nature. Those who have already played a few Move games, such as Sports Champions, will be familiar with the process and understand its necessity.
The Fight can be played using a single Move controller, accompanied by a six-axis pad, but to get the full experience from the game you really do need two Move controllers. The six-axis controller generally produces very inaccurate results, causing missed punches and accidental uppercuts, resulting in a considerable amount of frustration.
When using two Move controllers, however, your movements are almost perfectly represented on screen with 1:1 tracking. Very little tutoring is needed with this control method as you are free to fight however you want, with the only limits being the reach and movement of your own arms.
Your characters arms will move exactly as you do, with the action on screen produced almost instantly, with no real visible lag at all.
This freedom makes for an interesting, and very fun, fighting experience and is far from another Wii Boxing, or Fight Night, clone. You will soon find yourself swinging hooks and uppercuts, and throwing in the odd dirty elbow to your opponents jaw, all the while working up a damn good sweat. Simple motions and actions would get you through Wii Boxing without too much effort involved, but the same tactics will not get you very far in The Fight.
While you are free from the constraints of pre-set moves for the majority of your playtime, there are a few scripted actions that you can perform – known as ‘dirty moves’. These are done by holding down the trigger buttons on your controller, and following certain actions – raise your arm in the air, and bring it down fast, for example – to produce elbow shots, grabs and head-butts.
Despite the accurate motion tracking, one area where The Fight fails with accuracy is with the speed of your punches and movements. While you may throw an extremely fast punch, your character on-screen will not replicate that speed and will swing the fastest he is able to, instead.
Slower movements are tracked perfectly, and faster movements do produce a more powerful punch, but there seems to be a cap of sorts where the game will not replicate anything over a certain speed.
Head tracking is also available, allowing you to physically duck during combat, rather than holding the X button, but sadly, this requires practically unachievable lighting conditions.
In the two places I have played the game, the lighting conditions have always been reported as terrible, despite playing during the day with curtains open, and the light on.
Head tracking can be manually enabled, but if the camera has too much difficulty this will be disabled mid-fight, slapping an obtrusive warning across the screen, blocking your view.
The actual combat is spot on, but other actions do complicate the experience, such as movement of your character, which is performed by holding down the ‘Move’ button and lightly tilting the controller in the direction you want to go. If you are able to close the gap between you and your opponent and lay into them for a quick knockout, this is not so much of an issue, but when you are paired with someone who backs away and moves around the combat area, it can be irritating.
Dodging is also performed in a similar manner, by holding the Move button, and jerking the controller to the left, or right, to jump to the side.
The process itself is not really the problem; it is more the fact that you are tying up a hand that could be used to throw a valuable punch, or block an incoming attack.
As no range limitations have been implemented in The Fight, it is possible to get too close to your opponent, and it is at these times you begin to encounter the collision detection, which can be both a help and a hindrance.
The collision detection itself works exactly as it should. If you swing your arm, but don’t aim your shot correctly you will stop short on your opponents shoulder, or catch your arm on theirs. In the heat of a particularly active fight, this can sometimes look as though the game is not animating your movements correctly, especially if you move again too soon, but instead it is just that your characters arm is blocked, whereas your own is free to move.
This is something you soon grow to adapt to, and will start using to your advantage as you can use it to push your opponents arm out of the way, while using your other hand to smash them in the face.
Whilst you are free to move your arms in whatever way you wish, one unfortunate restriction is that your feet must remain in the same place throughout the fight. As the camera is busy tracking the movement of both Move controllers, it is unable to follow accurately if you start dodging and weaving around your living room.
If you happen to take a step away from your starting position, your punches will start to go off-target, but a quick press of the O button will reset the calibration based on your current position, so is relatively painless to recover.
The single player mode involves fighting your way through a ranked pyramid of ten opponents in twelve locations. While you will easily deal with the first few who stand in your way, they gradually become more difficult to beat, and many have their own fighting style.
Some will come out and hammer away at you as fast as they can to burn you down, whereas others just play dirty and push your around, head-butt you, or try to get a good grip on you while they rain blows down upon your head.
Of course, you are free to fight as fast, or as dirty, as they do.
In order to progress through the game, and deal with the more difficult opponents you will need to spend some time training in the gym.
Here you have a selection of different training methods available to you, from the speed and heavy bags, to sparring and combo training. Successfully completing the training exercises will reward you with points that you can spend to increase your attributes, such as strength and speed.
The training exercises do provide a welcome respite from the fights, some of them do not seem to work very well – either that, or I just was not doing them properly. The speed bag in particular comes to mind where, no matter what I did, I was unable to maintain a decent rhythm and build up any points.
Thankfully, the training exercises are not linked to specific attributes and all just provide generic points, so you can just repeat any that you prefer in order to earn the much-needed points.
The Fight is a good game, but sadly, the single player mode is rather lacking in diversity and linear. There is no actual career mode, and it is simply a case of taking on one opponent after another, with training thrown into the mix to ensure you are strong enough to deal with the competition.
This aside, there are tons of opponents to work your way through so it will still take you a while to finish, as long as you can put up with the lack of variety and narrative.
The multiplayer part of the game offers both local split-screen, and online play.
It may be fun to take on a friend, and attempt to beat them into oblivion, but unless you have four motion controllers you may be left disappointed with the experience.
As mentioned above, using one Move and a Six-Axis pad makes for a frustrating fight, and the calibration process does not offer its fullest field of vision when setting up the controllers. After only a couple of fights, my friend and me decided, it would be more enjoyable to just take it in turns on the single player mode.
Online play offers both ranked and unranked tournament matches, allowing you to climb the leader-boards, become the top player, and try to defend your title from challengers.
A spectator mode is also available, so you can watch others beating seven shades out of each other, and bet on the outcome of the match, or even fight for an audience yourself.
At the time of writing this review, I had been unable to try out the multiplayer mode due to there being no players online at the time, but this is something I am keen to try out once I have got my fighter in tip-top shape.
The Fight is far from a perfect game, but in the same respect, it is far from a bad one. While other games may have received a lower score, the enjoyment of the game far outweighs some of its issues and design flaws.
The motion control works very well, even with the included limitations, and adds to the fun experience. Visually, the game looks great, with a dark almost Sin City look to it, with splashes of colour in stark contrast to the almost monochromatic fighters.
The sound is also good, with plenty of satisfying smacks and crunches when you land a good punch, along with the hip hop soundtrack. The music can tend to grate after a little while, but other than on the menu screens it is barely noticeable as you are so involved in the fights.
Until the inevitable stream of fitness games make their way to the Playstation Move, The Fight will more than make up for them. This is, by far, one of the most difficult reviews I have had to write – not because of the games difficulty, or anything like that, but because it so physically demanding and will leave you out of breath, sweating and nursing sore arms after playing.
When creating your fighter you can enter your own height and weight, thus calculating a BMI score, and as you play the game will tell you how many calories you have burnt off after each fight, or training session.
The Fight is definitely not a game that you could spend all night playing; physical exhaustion is likely to set in before boredom.
For some, this could be the game of choice over the likes of Wii Fit, as it is a lot more fun to play.
As a title released shortly after the launch of Move, the game is a great example of how well the technology works, and sets the bar reasonably high for the future competition. I hope that we will see the likes of EA incorporating Move into games such as Fight Night and improve on what is an enjoyable, yet very tiring, experience.
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