Game Review: The Fight (Lights Out) (PS3 Move)

December 28, 2010 in Game Reviews by pacejmiller

Let me just get this out of the way first — The Fight (marketed without Lights Out in the title in Australia) is a good game.  It has been panned by many gaming websites and critics as a horrible game to showcase the capabilities of the PS3 Move, getting some woeful ratings.  While there are undeniably some problems with the game, for hardcore fight gamers, The Fight can be fun, strangely addictive, and an extrordinarily excellent workout.  The game is probably the closest thing to a real fighting simulation out there at the moment.  Those so-called critics who say the game is unresponsive and has poor controls are probably fat slobs who can’t be bothered getting off their lazy butts.

As a fighting fan, I had high expectations for this game.  I had a good time with games on the Nintendo Wii such as Wii Sports Boxing and Victorious Boxers Challenge (Revolution), but the lack of movement control on the Wii made the games frustrating, and once you figured out how to cheat the system, the games became far too easy and didn’t require ‘real’ movements (ie you can flick your wrists as opposed to using fully extended punches).

The PS3 Move is supposed to overcome this problem with ‘perfect’ 1:1 tracking, which not only capture’s hand movements, but also head movement and importantly, depth.  In other words, you actually need to move your body to play the game, punch where the opponent is standing (relative to where you are), and how far you punch depends on how far you extend your arms.

For the  most part, The Fight offers what is promised.  In terms of motion capturing, the PS3 Move blows the Wii out of the water.  Without having tried the XBox360’s Kinect, I can’t really say if the Move is the best on the market, but from what I hear, Kinect’s fighting game offering, Fighters Uncaged, has been rated even worse than The Fight.

Anyway, check out the review after the jump.  I’ll try my best to tackle all the complaints that have been hurled at this game, and discuss whether they are legitimate or not.

(click on ‘more…’ to continue)

Overview

Anyway, The Fight is not a boxing game per se — it’s underground street fighting.  Think Fight Club, Never Back Down and Fighting (all films).  You start off by creating a character (you get to choose stuff like hair, body shape, facial hair, etc), and go straight into tutorial mode.

The tutorials are pretty straightforward and are presented by Latino actor Danny Trejo (Machete).  He tries to act like a tough guy but honestly it is all unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally?) hilarious.

Once you get the basic hang of things, you go straight into fist fighting against an assortment of opponents, none of whom stand out particularly.  Each time you beat a guy you win money, rank points and items, plus you can unlock new opponents and arenas.  Each arena has ten opponents, and there are 13 arenas in total (as far as I can tell).  You will win cash for every fight you win, but you can also bet on the way you will win in order to earn money quicker.

Money can be used to purchase different clothes and accessories (some of which might have an effect on your abilities), and can also be used to purchase training sessions (such as punching bag, speed bag, mitts, endurance), which will give you ability points you can spend on your fighter to increase their strength, speed, stamina, chin, heart, and technique.  If you get injured in a fight, you can also use money to quickly patch yourself up.

That’s pretty much the game in a nutshell.

Visuals

In-game footage

The visuals were okay.  Adequate by PS3 standards, but nothing special.  To simulate the dark tone and atmosphere, the game is essentially in black and white, with a splash of red for blood (and you’ll get quite a bit of that) and pale blue for the sky (where there is sky).  Some may like the style, but others could find the lack of colour underwhelming.

As for the character and arena animations, also decent but not outstanding.  There is some good detail, particularly the injuries the fighters incur from fights, but the arenas don’t really stand out.  It may have been different if they were different sized or you could interact with the environment (such as say pick up objects), but because you can’t, all the arenas kind of melt into one.

If say Fight Night Round 4 deserves a 10 out of 10 for visuals, The Fight would only a 6 or 7 at most.

Sound

There is of course Trejo’s grunty voice, but in terms of music I can’t really say anything stood out.  Not that music is a particularly important part of this game.  The sound effects from the punches are good, though I don’t think it’s better than most other fighting games out there.  Hence I’d simply say the sound was adequate.

Gameplay (and Motion Tracking)

This is where every game succeeds or fails, and in my opinion, The Fight is not bad, especially when you consider that this is the first fist fighting game to come out on the PS3 Move.

The biggest complaints I’ve read about the game are: (1) it doesn’t fully track your hands properly; (2) head movement tracking is poor; (3) too much recalibration is required; (4) special moves difficult to execute; (5) stat system pointless; (6) crappy camera angles.  Let me examine these one by one.

1. Punch tracking

I don’t know what game these critics have been playing, because the 1:1 motion tracking is, for the most part, excellent.  There is only a very slight, if not negligible delay between your movement and the movement of the character on the screen.  You punch, the character punches.  You block, he blocks.  Wherever your hands are, his hands are.  Even the angle of your hands (vertical or horizontal) are captured perfectly.

In other words, you can’t just throw random punches and expect them to land.  Similarly, you can’t just raise your hands and expect punches to be blocked.  You need to manouvre your body into range and punch where your opponent’s defense is weak.  You need to watch where your opponent’s punches are coming from and block or dodge accordingly.  In this sense, The Fight is already superior to any fighting game on the Wii.

The strength you put behind your punches is also important.  As a general rule, the harder you punch, the harder your character punches.  It’s not perfect, but critics are definitely exaggerating when they say fast punches come out slow.  Perhaps they’re just not as fast as they think they are, because the game works fine for me.

One common complaint is that punches that appear as though they would land end up falling short, making the game frustrating to play.  Again, not something I experienced.  If you miss, it’s because you’re either too far away from your opponent or because you’re not extending your arms fully.

In order for the motion capture to work properly, you need to stand in the same place.  But of course, your character on the screen can walk around by you pressing a button on the Move controller and pointing it in the direction you want to move in, which is kind of hard to get a hang of.  But this is something you can’t avoid in video games, at least not yet.

The same can be said for the fact that punches have no impact as you’re always hitting the air, which feels kind of weird when your character on screen is beating the crap out of someone, but what can you do about that?

2. Head movement tracking

A lot of critics I’ve read said that the head movement tracking is so poor that you might as well play without it.  I must say I don’t get that, because I haven’t had much of a problem.  Even when it doesn’t work properly, I always take the time to recalibrate because head movement is such an important part of the game for me (because there are a lot of punches you can’t block fully with your hands).

I find that the head tracking works best when playing in a room that is well lit, preferably by a bit of sunlight (eg during the day with blinds blocking the stronger rays), but even at night, when it says the head tracking quality is ‘terrible’, it still works okay.  Every now and then, the head tracking might disable halfway through a fight, which is irritating, but it only takes a minute to recalibrate, so for me it’s more than worth it.

3. Recalibration

This criticism is true — you do have to recalibrate quite often in this game, before every fight, before every training session, and before every time you learn a new special move.  However, you only really need to do a full recalibration once, at the start of the game, and every recalibration only requires two quick poses.  Only when the calibration stuffs up (which happens usually if you step away from your set spot) do you have to do a completely new recalibration.

I suppose it can be a little frustrating to keep having to recalibrate regularly, but when you’re enjoying the game all you think about is getting straight back into the action.

4. Special moves

Danny Trejo teaching you the ropes

While punching is very close to 1:1, there are certain things that aren’t — such as headlocks, elbows, headbutts, etc.  That’s where special moves come in.

As the game progresses, you unlock and learn how to execute special moves (courtesy of Trejo), which usually require you to hold the ‘T’ button at the back of the Move controller and swing the controller(s) in a certain way that mimics the special move.

It’s fun to throw elbows and all, but the truth is, some of the special moves are easy to execute, while others aren’t.  I still can’t for the life of me get some of the moves to work properly, and it’s not even worth trying in the heat of combat.

5. Stat system

Another common complaint is that the general stat system and the in-fight stat system are stupid and pointless.  The general stat system is the set that you can upgrade with training points, such as strength, speed, stamina, chin, heart and technique.  The in-fight stat system has a life bar and stamina bar, and also this ‘rush’ gauge that allows you to go on a punching rampage.  The thing is — when you are the one that’s punching, shouldn’t you be the one that’s determining your strength, speed and stamina?  If you can keep punching hard, then why should you be penalised for having a weak character?

There is some merit to this argument.  Personally, I think stuff like speed, technique and stamina should not have been included in the stat system.  Especially speed, considering this is supposed to be a full 1:1 tracking game.  Not 100% sure what technique is supposed to do, but apparently it determines whether you ‘hit or miss’, which is silly because you’re the one that’s supposed to be determine that!  Stamina, I suppose, makes the game a bit more of a challenge, because really fit people can just dominate and keep throwing wildly without consequences.

On the other hand, chin and heart (which I believe is recovery ability) are needed because those are things out of the user’s control.  As for strength, I think it is necessary because you don’t want people injuring themselves.

6. Camera angles

The original game features several camera angles, none of which are from directly behind your fighter, which means it is difficult sometimes to gauge where your punches are going to land.  Admittedly, this was an issue, but a downloadable patch is available which adds a behind-the-back view and makes your fighter semi-transparent, so his body does not block your view.  Problem solved.

Replay value

The game features 13 arenas which need to be gradually unlocked

One of the biggest criticisms is that The Fight is boring and repetitive.  I admit there is very little imagination when it comes to this game.  There is essentially no story, not plot — just fighting one oppponent after another, training and learning new moves, unlocking clothes and accessories to change your character’s appearance, etc.  But tell me a fighting game that is any different?  Is Wii Boxing any different?  Is Fight Night Round 4?  Actually, the same can probably be said for most sports games out there.

The whole point of this game is to hold the Move controllers and pretend you’re fighting.  It is indeed repetitive, but it’s up to you to make it interesting.

What I like most about it is the incredible workout you get. This game is essentially rigorous shadow boxing with light weights.

I was insanely sore after playing it the first time, but I kept going back for more, until I could literally not raise my arms the next day.  The game gives you a calorie meter to gauge how much you’re burning, but you don’t really need it to know you’re getting a crazy workout because you’re drenched head to toe in sweat and it’s dripping all over the place.  The endurance training session where you fight one guy after another in 30 second slots is the most strenuous because you don’t get a break.  I once burned 200+ calories fighting 30+ guys in a row in a little over 15 minutes.

Because the game is addictive, you end up pushing yourself physically, more than you ever would if you were just shadow boxing.  Even after just five days of playing I already feel so much fitter.

Miscellaneous

A couple of other things.

You can play the game with a single Move controller and a regular PS3 controller, but the game is designed for two Move controllers.

One thing that annoyed me was that you can only save one fighter at a time.  If you want to create a new fighter you need to either delete your old one or log in with another user account.

I’ve never tried online play but I imagine it would add another dimension to the game.

Conclusion

The Fight has quite a few problems with it — the graphics and sound are only mediocre, recalibration is repeated for every fight, and there’s not a lot of creativity in the gameplay.

But considering all the flak the game has gotten, it is, without a doubt, extremely underrated as a fighting simulation game.  Much of the criticism has been unwarranted — the 1:1 tracking is solid, and certainly better than any game on any console I’ve experienced.  And for those who enjoy these sorts of games, it can be highly addictive.  Being a great workout is also a bonus.

I’d call The Fight an okay game for regular gamers and a good game for hardcore fight gamers.

7.5 out of 10!

This video provides a good demonstration of how the game works and looks, including the 1:1 tracking.