Although there are two fully functional fighters that went out with the Vita when it launched (BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend and Marvel vs Capcom 3), these were not anything exclusive to the Vita. Leave it to Sony then to ensure that Vita owners everywhere can have a fighter that only they can play. Reality Fighters is one of the new Augmented Reality games that don’t require the little AR cards in order to work. So does it come out swinging, or does it end up falling flat on its face?
There is a lot of good ideas in Reality Fighters, unfortunately they’re not executed in a way that will keep hard core fighter fans happy for more than a few minutes at best. A younger crowd will have a lot of fun with it though as my ten year old son will attest, but anyone used to something more complex than “mash every button constantly” will probably throw their Vita in frustration trying to make things happen that the game refuses to do. Now don’t get me wrong here – Reality Fighters does do some things right but it could have been SO much better.
One of the things that it does right is giving the player a ridiculous amount of choices as to how they want to customize their experience. For starters you have fifteen different fighting styles to choose from, and even though you have to earn points to unlock most of them the very fact that they are all there is nice. On the flip side of that though is the limited number of “moves” each of the styles have. I would have rather had half the styles and twice the moves to choose from, but I understand what they were going for here – and again, to me it just seems like they threw all of this in to be a draw for the younger gamers out there.
Character creation is another thing that Reality Fighters gets right for the most part. To begin creating a new fighter, you need to take a picture or your (or someone else’s) face with the Vita’s camera. It’s a simple thing to do, and Reality Fighters does a really good job of mapping your face out. Next you set your muscle and weight – for some strange reason they didn’t add an option to set your height though so no dwarfs on the playing field. After that you get to dress yourself, which can lead to a lot of ridiculousness. Reality Fighters has a metric shit ton of parts for you to buy for your fighter, from the mundane shirt and shorts, to a banana suit and literally everything in between. While this may be another attempt to throw so much into a pile that you won’t have time to notice the flaws, it can be kind of funny. Who hasn’t wanted to kick someone’s ass while wearing a giant banana suit after all.
You can use the Vita’s mic to record an intro and a victory saying for your fighter which is a nice touch, but ultimately falls short of what it should be. There’s no option to record a taunt, or to record more than one “saying” for each slot. You’ll learn to quickly hate anything you record there as much as the normal fighter “voices”, and will probably be playing the Vita muted very quickly. The fighting styles I mentioned earlier are pretty unique – things like ballet, zombie, and cowboy are archetypes that other fighting games don’t have, and they can be pretty comical to play as.
The “story” in Reality Fighters is really not good at all. For some reason, some brain trust thought it would be a swell idea to have Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid (no, not the garbage 2010 remake, the REAL Karate Kid) narrate. In reality, it’s not even much of a narration – Mr Miyagi says a few words in between matches in broken English, and offers absolutely no help to you whatsoever. It’s almost like putting him in there was an inside joke and no one bothered to let him in on it. To top it all off, the fighters in the single player story vary so much in difficulty that one minute you’re getting perfect rounds, and the next you’ll want to throw your Vita in frustration. People say Shao Kahn was cheap in the last Mortal Kombat game, but he has nothing on the last three people you fight in the story. Part of that is the AI’s fault, and the other part has to do with the sloppy fighting mechanics in this fighting game.
In Reality Fighters, one of the other “big” things is that you can play your fights on any backdrop you want. They give you a few that you will unlock through the story, but you’re not limited by them in the least. Have a desk you want to throw down on? Just aim the Vita at it and hit X, or use the camera to make a panoramic picture of your surroundings (it stitches pictures together for you) so you can fight there later. This part works really well – the down side comes when you’re actually fighting. Like the other Vita AR games, wherever you’re looking when you push the X button will become your central focal point – this means that you have to physically move the Vita around while fighting in order to be able to follow your character. This also means that if you’re anywhere near as active as I am when playing games, that your screen will be bouncing all over the place making it all but impossible to actually see what is going on in the fight.
The Bottom Line: Reality Fighters could easily have been a lot more, but in its current state it feels more like a PSN title than a full on retail release; yes there’s a lot of content here, but it can be hard to separate the good from the bad.
- A lot of content to unlock will keep completionists busy
- The multiplayer fights can be fun – especially if your opponent has a good sense of humor
- Being able to use anything as a stage sets up some crazy possibilities
- The whole fighting part of the game isn’t very deep
- Trying to keep the Vita centered on your character while fighting is a bitch
- So much more could have been done with the voice recording feature
Reality Fighters by Sony for the PS Vita console is available everywhere games are sold including Amazon for $29.99