Reality Fighters Review
Game: Reality Fighters
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation Vita only
Launch line-ups are typically full of games that try to show off exactly what the new hardware is capable of, even if they sometimes fail to do so with aplomb. It is very unusual that any new console receives a truly stellar array of games on day one. As we saw with the Nintendo Wii, which arguably only delivered the goods to hardcore gamers in the last year or so of its life, sometimes it can take ages for a console to achieve anything like its potential.
In the time I have spent with it, the Vita has delivered on at least one count: console standard gaming on the move. With flawless online elements and exquisite aesthetic emulation of their big brother counterparts, the superb Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom and Uncharted games certainly live up to this billing. But there is much more to this new handheld than sheer technical muscle. You have a wonderfully huge screen, perfect touch pad, two cameras and the mysterious rear touch panel to play with, just for starters. When you marry the control schemes and camera wizardry to the motion control capabilities of the unit, there are a wealth of possibilities. What better way to demonstrate just what it can do, than with a customisable one-on-one fighting game, starring the late Pat Morita of Karate Kid/Happy Days fame, in his classic Miyagi guise?
Right off the bat, Reality Fighters does not position itself as a rival to the likes of Street Fighter or The King of Fighters. The fact that there is a bloke dressed in a banana costume on the title screen told me this. What it is, is a simple, fun knockabout, which serves mainly to show off the motion sensor, camera and augmented reality functions of the Vita. For the most part succeeds in doing this.
First of all you need to design yourself a character. Like the Face Raiders minigame built-in to the 3DS, you and your peers can become part of the game courtesy of a snap of the camera. You can either look down into the camera on the face of the console, or take a picture of someone else (or indeed get them to do the same) using the second lens on the back. Once you have perfected your best scowl, the game cleverly scans your face onto a 3D model. Huzzah! It is so simple to use, the software even tells you at which point to click the camera for the best possible results.
What ensues is the opportunity to fully customise your fighter – a naked figure with your own face stuck to it. It is both amusing and unnerving, as you select from a huge wardrobe full of kooky gear. There are loads of potentially insane costume combos for you to play around with, and even if you are disappointed by the fact that you can’t change colour schemes or build up layers of clothing and items, you should be satisfied at the way you can choose your level of obesity and equip yourself with a set of Maxi Priest-style dreads, or even a mullet straight out of a Bayern Munich fans convention.
Did I mention that you can also record your own voice snippets to complement the action? This is another highly amusing feature. Everyone knows that recording and playing back your voice is the very pinnacle of comedy. For years, I have found that there is nothing more therapeutic than using which ever device is de rigeur for the day to record – and then play back – rude words. So if you want to, you can cram in a three-second battle cry for your Reality Fighter to bellow upon successfully kicking someone’s ass. I will point out that I fully endorse puerile swearing for this part.
That is pretty much as far as the customisation goes. But the game still has a few more tricks up its sleeve yet. You can take further pictures and deploy the fighting action to real-life locales using the augmented reality feature. I had terrific fun using a scarily accurate version of myself to batter a ballerina, all on the familiar surroundings of the table out in my kitchen. Even the photorealistic backdrops already included with the game look pretty. And when you are fighting you can spin around or look up and down and get a fully panoramic view of what is going on.
You may have noticed that I haven’t really mentioned much about the gameplay. This is because it is fairly secondary to the amount of fun you can have with the camera and making up your characters. The fighting engine is pretty simple; something like a scaled down Dead or Alive only on a fixed 2D plane. There are a few characters to fight against – such as the aforementioned ballerina, an odd alien looking dude, and a Superman-style hero clone – but there is nothing inspirational about the game to make you want to play it through to the bitter end. There are unlockable costumes and bits and bobs to dress up in that come with victories against the other CPU opponents, and the inclusion of Mr Miyagi in the tutorial is completely ace, God rest his soul. But once you have seen all the technical wizardry, you are left with a decidedly limited game at the core.
As an exercise in showing us what the console can do, Reality Fighters is a big winner. And hell, even though it is limited in overall scope, and will not be challenging Capcom, SNK or Arc System Works any time soon, it is still full of fun and has a certain charm that won me over from the start. I don’t think that a fighting game is ever the right forum for this type of techy gimmickry – perhaps some form of shooter that builds upon the funny five minutes of Face Raiders , or something along the lines of Elebits would me more appropriate for this type of AR shenanigans (just imagine Elebits – in your own house!).
VERDICT: If you want a fighter deserving of your coin with your new PlayStation Vita, then there are two others far more worthy of your attention. This game would be a perfect rental, and I would urge that you give it a go, because the camera abilities of the console are seriously impressive, and it is always fun taking pics of yourself and swearing into a dictaphone. But I would advise caution if you are considering throwing twenty odd quid at it on day one, kids.