Move’s casual-friendly launch line-up wasn’t extraordinary, hardcore titles normally follow new peripherals a month or so behind and the PS3’s range of motion control games is following the familiar path. Sure, Start the Party and Sports Champions were fun, but they were clearly aimed at getting Move out to as wide a market as possible leaving the likes of The Fight and Time Crisis to take care of the rest of us that like a little bit more meat to our videogames.
And they don’t come much meatier than first party title The Fight, even if , after all the sweat, blood and tears you’re still left wanting a little more.
Hosted by Danny Trejo, the game’s tutorials walk you through the basics – how to move your fighter, how to dodge, block and ultimately how to punch. Trejo’s presence is a casting masterstroke, the fan-favourite Californian actor lending a considerable gravitas to the gritty green-screening and although his delivery is straight-laced it’s hard not to imagine his tongue firmly lodged in his cheek as he raises up the glowing pink and blue-balled Move controllers to his chin in the guard formation.
If you’re using one Move controller and a Dual Shock to play the game he’ll also walk you through the various punch moves, but if you’re equipped with two Moves he’ll leave the finer details to your own fighting abilities, the 1:1 mapping of the sticks to your on-screen fists ample belief in the player’s innate brawling skills. The Dual Shock concession is disappointing, though, the gestures aren’t accurately interpreted and it’s possible, for example, to uppercut just by twisting the device.
But played with two Move controllers, as intended, the game’s tactile delivery is a joy. Once you’ve adjusted your aim (you always punch into the screen, not at the camera, and punching straight makes your fighter punch screen, regardless of the camera angle) the actual fighting is down to little more than your own stamina and aptitude, your capacity as a boxer instrumental in your progress through the game. If you’re thinking The Fight is another Wii Sports Boxing, you’re going to be in for a shock.
The Fight plays hard, and although you’ll be dispatching the first few opponents without much fuss, it doesn’t take long to realise that you’re not as tough as you think you are, and although your own stamina might outlast that of your avatar’s that just gives you more of an excuse to hit the game’s gym and collect a few points to spend on your leveling – you can concentrate in specific areas (speed, strength etc.) but it’s wise, at first at least, to edge your bets and spread the marks equally.
Single player progress is via a pyramid of locations set in a fictional Los Angeles, and each plays host to an increasingly difficult to beat pack of fighters; stereotypical throughout, but charmingly so, and although there’s no let-up in what you’re asked to do, various requirements will be offered up both for level completion and for maximum points. For example, you might need to down someone in a specific time limit, or land punches with a certain degree of accuracy, which helps break up the monotomy.
The Fight also offers a split-screen two player mode (you’ll need two controllers each, it doesn’t matter which but at least one Move each) and an online mode, both ranked and unranked. We couldn’t test the online mode properly at the time of going to press but it at least worked, finding rivals reasonably quickly.
Any concerns over any lag between you punching and the game punching can be put to bed, there’s nothing here that would cause a problem – The Fight not only matches exactly what you’re doing with your arms we reckon it does it as close to instantly as possible. When coupled with the game’s head tracking (which requires some even light and a fairly plain background) the game makes a strong case for Move’s technical grunt, and offers a convincing, accurate way of interacting.
The additional controls can be irksome, though – having to press the Move button to make your character walk is a shame and likewise holding the same button and jerking the right controller to dodge isn’t intuitive, especially when everything else is so immediate. Yes, it’s the only way they could distinguish between movement and a punch, but having to reposition your thumbs from the classic brawling location is distracting. Also, if head tracking doesn’t work (the game tells you before your bout) you have to hold X to duck.
Because The Fight doesn’t track the movement of your feet to ensure the Move spheres remain a constant relaxed distance it requires you to keep in the same place during a fight, if you move too far to one side the punches go wayward and might not be tracked at all. The game also needs to run an initial calibration on first boot (every boot) and a shorter two step refresher between each fight, even on rematches. The developers tell us this is the only way the game can ensure it knows where you are, and isn’t too much of an issue after you’ve done it a few times.
The game lacks diversity, though – because it’s so stripped down and focused you’ll find that, although you can unlock additional clothing and designs for your fighter (of more use online, as you’d expect) there’s nothing much to do apart from chip away at the list of opponents and spend some time (and currency) in the gym in order to improve your skills and gain a few ability points. RPG-like boosters add some variety (more cash per win, better stamina etc) but they’re largely missable if you’re good enough.
It all boils down to how much enjoyment you’ll get from simple one on one fights, with no narrative to tie your next combatant together with the last (even the bosses are unceremonious) – the fighting itself is great, but attrition and fatigue sets in well before you’re past the first level. Perhaps best enjoyed in small doses, The Fight is a clever example of what Move and can be picked up and played by anyone. We’d have preferred some variety though, and more substantial fitness tracking would have been welcome.
That said, The Fight isn’t like any other fighting game, you don’t need to learn fancy combos, you just need to be hard as nails, and for that we applaud its inventiveness.
- The fights are tense affairs, a mix of skill and strategy
- There’s loads of opponents to work through
- Danny Trejo
- Trejo aside, it’s a little too serious for its own good
- LA is a very monochromatic place to scrap
- Perhaps too single minded
The Fight’s reduced price point highlights Sony’s intentions for the game: it’s a welcome shift of emphasis for the PlayStation Move and one that deserves your attention if you’re looking for something different. Sure, it’s not perfect, and you’ll need to be pretty fit to get much out of it, but for £30 RRP (it’s available for around £24 online) there’s a solid game to enjoy here – and if you come away aching half as much as I did you can rest easy in the knowledge that you’re doing yourself some good too.