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Preview: The Fight

Kyle Orland

Sony had a new, roughly 60% complete build of The Fight on hand at a pre-Gamescom press event, and I have to say, my experience with the game couldn't have been more different from the one Chris Buffa had a few months ago (when the game still had its "Lights Out" subtitle). For one, I found the artificial intelligence to be at least competitive, if not overly hard. My computerized opponent -- a thin, bouncy, tattooed Asian gangster -- came at me constantly, using quick jabs to take advantage if I opened myself up with too many attacks and not enough guarding. The player who went before me actually lost to his computer opponent, a beefy black man in a wifebeater who countered an endless series of high, straight punches with some accurate low body blows.

For another, I didn't notice any discernible lag between my real-life motions and the punches on screen. That's not to say there wasn't any lag -- in fact, there probably was -- but just that it wasn't easily discernible in the heat of the battle. I didn't find myself making a punching motion and then waiting for a second to see if the game would recognize it as a punch or anything like that. On the contrary, the game seemed pretty good about moving my on-screen fighter's arm almost immediately when I moved my own.

It's hard to understate the importance of the game's accurate punch tracking. I started out my demo just stretching my arms all around me and marveling at the range of motion my on-screen fighter could mimic. After that I tried every type of punch I could think of, from quick high jabs to low crosses, slow powerful uppercuts to hand-over-hand punching bag whirligigs, and the game handled them all accurately and without a complaint. After a few minutes I got brave enough to try some simple combinations -- a few short right jabs followed by a left hook seemed to really catch my opponent off guard. I never felt nearly this level of precision with Wii boxing simulations like those in Wii Sports or Punch Out!

In fact, my short session with The Fight felt a lot like the future we were promised when the Wii remote was first introduced years ago -- a new way of playing where the game actually senses your movements, rather then just sensing any old controller movement. I have no idea if the final game will have enough depth to stand up to repeated play, but the sheer "gee whiz" impact of that first play session is going to stay with me for quite a while.

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