Developer: Genuine Games
Release Date: November 16, 2004
When a movie version of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club was announced, fans of the underground sensation tremored with worry. How could Fight Club, the freaking anti-capitalist manifesto, be made into a multi-million dollar box-office event starring Brad Pitt? It could only go badly, right? Mostly, it didn’t. The movie was a hit – and not because it presented Pitt as a pretty boy, or presented a focus on the fights and not the message, but because it was good, and, except for the ending, it was very much true to Palahniuk’s original story. And things were good. More morons than ever who completely missed the point of the story were spread about the world, but things were still good.
Enter: Fight Club for Playstation 2 and Xbox is announced. It will be a fighting game. With Fred Durst as an unlockable character. Something is going wrong. Very wrong. Let me get this out before I move on: FIGHT CLUB WAS NOT ABOUT THE FIGHTING! HOW COULD ANYBODY MISS THIS OBVIOUS, GLARING, did I mention OBVIOUS POINT? Now, let’s continue on here.
Fight Club’s developers did not even pretend to understand any of the deeper notions present in the original story. At the e3 2004 showing of the game, the team has been noted as wandering about spouting quotes from the film, usually only those involving the fighting aspect of the movie. “And the eighth and final rule of fight club: If this is your first time at fight club, you have to fight.” Any faith a fan of the book or film might have had in this game was surely eliminated by that point. And how does it actually play out? Unsurprisingly, the game is a wreck. The developers obviously spent a lot of time watching selected chapters of the Fight Club DVD and sitting around playing Tekken during their time creating this little gem, likely aspiring to bring both of these alien worlds together into one fantastic product. After a couple years of time putting (throwing?) the game together, Fight Club released as a clunky fighter that plays as though you are moving through glitchy molasses with a wealth of irritating, misinterpreted references to the movie Fight Club, and, oddly enough, one of the worst manuals to ship with any game I’ve seen next to Half Life 2, which didn’t have one in the box. What was expected to be an appalling trainwreck of a game has come out to be much, much worse. “Welcome to Fight Club.”
I will not make this review as thoroughly offensive as it easily could be. In fact, I will begin discussing the most important aspect of Fight Club -- or any videogame, really, since this is what separates them from other forms of media – by pointing out an important fact that must be kept in mind when playing pretty much any fighting game put out by an unproven developer: Fighting games are really hard to develop. Even teams that have been trying to perfect their take on the genre for a decade or more, as the Mortal Kombat team at Midway are, still haven’t matched the level of balance achieved by developers like Capcom and SNK. At the same time, those latter two companies are put to a completely different level of judgment, and their latest games, good by most standards in terms of balance and control, were almost universally panned by reviewers solely based on comparing these games to the ones that proceeded them. And as for the developers of Fight Club? With no previous work to back them up, sadly, their fighting game comes off as a sorry excuse for something that is supposed to be fun. If only game design classes were developed enough to the point that they could teach people the workings of intricate balance in fighting games – because if it doesn’t come naturally to a designer, it might not come at all.
Players can choose from a multitude of minor characters from the film, some questionably either extras or not present in the film at all. For example, remember that blond haired fellow that was beaten about the face by the unnamed character played by Edward Norton(here named “Jack” based on a single strand of references that don’t actually give the character a name)? He’s here, and since he had no name, he is given the unsatisfying moniker “Angel Face”. This game is only an inch away from referring to characters as “Man With Shovel #4 From Scene 23 Of Film”.
Once you’ve finally selected your fighter, it’s on to the game. After a twenty second long, extremely unattractive “blood trail” loading screen, the fight begins immediately. Though it shows the word “fight” on the screen when you should be ready, players have full control over their combatants the entire time. To get the right advantage in a two player match, you’ll have to be ready to start slapping away at the buttons at any moment. And once you get started, you’ll likely prefer to never go back.
As previously mentioned, Fight Club takes some of its influence from the Tekken series, at least in terms of what the developers were trying to do; it would be too much credit to this game to put it anywhere near the level of that series. Instead of having a focus on special moves like the Street Fighter games, Fight Club has an emphasis on the various types of single attacks, learning combos, and managing counter attacks. The problem is, none of it controls well enough for the gameplay to really matter to anyone. Movement is excruciatingly slow in all regards, especially basic movement. Punches and kicks seem to react slowly to button presses – so much so, that even after learning combos, you will not feel completely confident using them until you are comfortable with the slow reaction time of the game. It feels like the game is played behind a constant ¼ of a second delay.
To make matters worse, characters are terribly unbalanced. Mr. Tyler Durden (i.e., the only character anybody will select) has a massive advantage over almost every character. Fighters like Angel Face are completely weak compared to the others. Come on, this game was in development long enough to fix up balancing issues!
The single player mode is completely embarrassing. The story plays out like an atrociously watered down version of the movie version’s trailer, all through either FMV or randomly placed still shots of CG models (!) and bad voice acting, giving the entire ordeal an air of complete laziness on the part of the developers. Honestly, this is the single worst presentation of a “story mode” that I have ever set eyes upon. It’s nearly offensive how little effort was put towards making this game worth playing.
And of course Fight Club is a visual mess during the gameplay, too. Some of the character models look at least above average on a technical level, but none of the animations look smooth enough to be up to snuff with games like Soul Calibur 2 on store shelves for nearly two years now. With regards to the story, characters do not move, look, or act much like the people upon which they are based. Tyler Durden looks like an Abercrombie model from 1998, and Bob’s breasts are comically enlarged to the point of ruining the presence of his character.
And then there’s what you’ll have to hear while playing Fight Club: Easily the worst aspect of this game. Every bit of voice acting is a complete bother to ingest, and worse yet is the absence of it. “How could that be,” you say? Well, when you see a character’s lips are moving in an animation obviously meant to have voice accompanied with it, maybe then you’ll understand.
Fight Club is one of the worst games to release this year. Bad control, mediocre graphics, bad voice acting, bad sound, boring and extremely flawed gameplay, and worst of all, nearly criminal abuse of an intellectual property, make this one game that is most definitely not worth anybody’s fifty dollars. Rent it to unlock Fred Durst and give the fat man a kick in the gut, if for no other reason.
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