The Fight: Lights Out makes us want to punch people in the face. Not in the way the developers intended, though.
A primer: The Fight, clearly the standout at the announcement of the Move peripheral, has you put into a fistfight with various rough-looking guys that look like they need a good pummeling. It has a dark, gritty nature that few motion games have tried, and the full suite of two Moves and the Eye for head tracking means it has a lot of technology at its disposal to make the game fun. (Using just one Move and a standard controller or Navigation Controller is supported, but strongly recommended against.)
For a little while, it is. Basic punches and blocks work by simply punching in the air, and the game takes your direction and force into account when dealing damage. The game’s a workout, to be sure, as you’ll be putting in full effort to land a particularly nasty uppercut.
The campaign features Danny Trejo as a coach of sorts, which is a great fit for this game. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t up to the kind of thing he usually does, but it’s acceptable since “punching dudes” isn’t the easiest base to write from. The game has dozens and dozens of fights to play through, and online play with the option to watch and bet (virtually) on others’ brawls. But the focus here is on the fighting itself.
The problems come in two forms: the technical glitches and the implementation of special moves. The unlockable moves all require more than just moving your arms, using triggers to, well, trigger these gesture-based attacks. Just like Wii games that try gestural moves, these aren’t smooth and don’t register consistently. Unfortunately, the game is balanced so that their extra tactical uses and damage are needed to get very far. It’s a good thing you aren’t being simultaneously put in a mindset where you think violence will solve your problems. Oh, wait.
The other technical hiccups come when the system starts misreading the Moves’ positions and not detecting them. This is an issue with the system as a whole, but in games like Sports Champions (with largely turn-based controls) it’s not so big a deal to adjust before the next throw or serve. In The Fight, you will be punched repeatedly in the face as you look on helplessly and scramble to recalibrate. It’s a different thing.
So The Fight makes us mad. But it doesn’t make us mad because it’s totally without merit. Really it’s this: a concept with so much promise really should have turned out better than this. When you play, there are flashes of what the game could have been. Then it fades back into frustrating mediocrity.