Reviewed: December 11, 2004
Released: November 16, 2004
Some movies turned video games make sense, like Terminator and Star Wars. These movies are action packed, fun eye candy that can translate into video games easily. Itís the movies with an actual message, important messages, such as Fight Club, that I donít understand being made into games (especially five years after the fact).
Sure, youíve got greedy developers out there that know that they can crap all over a good piece of art for a few quick bucks from fans that will, of course, buy the game. Itís a lot easier than coming up with an original idea that risks failure even if it is a good one. But why not use movies that you know will make a good video game? Donít they think that people will catch on? Why put forth the effort to churn out utter crap, such as Fight Club, the video game? Why? Personally, Iím waiting for Citizen Kane, the video game.
Fight Club was a 1999 movie, based on a novel that was thought provoking, ground breaking, funny, sad, unique, and was quick to become a modern classic. It is brutal and unforgiving in its scathing criticism of society and how easy it is to lose oneself in the unimportant, unfulfilling day-to-day grind of a routine and scheduled life. It was about finding yourself in a world that seems to always be against you, about shunning materialism, and letting go of that which does not matter, as it slowly kills you because you donĎt want to let it go.
Needless to say, a decent video game based on such a complex premise would be nothing short of a miracle, and a decent fighting game based on such a premise would take an act of God. Did either happen here? Hell no. I am Jackís utter lack of surprise.
Oh, where do I even begin? Fight Club fails so miserably at just about everything it attempts to do. Completely overlooking how bad of an idea it was in the first place to turn Fight Club into a video game, letís just get to the meat of what this game has to offer, or lack thereof.
This game offers a variety of modes to play: Arcade (self explanatory), Versus (again, self-explanatory), Survival, (Iíll bet you know what Iím thinking), and Story. Yes, story mode. You have the luxury of playing a generic twenty-something thatís down and out because his wife has left him. Generic twenty-something confides in a bartender (naturally) and then tries to kill himself. Bartender tells generic twenty-something to go look for a man named Tyler Durden, and get into a thing called Fight Club. He will be born again, or something. He will then have to be tested, since heís a newbie, through a series of boring, repetitive fights. Wow. Letís see, did I leave anything out? No, that about covers it.
Now, when I say boring, repetitive fights, I donít want you to get the wrong idea. Itís incredibly boring. It is a feat in the practice of repetition. Iíve had more fun in algebra class than I had playing Fight Club. Itís positively mind numbing.
You would think that it would make sense to make this area of the game an adventure, in which you play the main character, running around, from one mission to the next based on hints and clues in previous missions. Perhaps you could punch a few random pedestrians on the street, like in Grand Theft Auto, or talk to people. It just makes freaking logical sense, given the story of the film.
However, Fight Club is a fighting game, and thatís it. A true button masher, you can probably burn through the story mode in a couple of hours, if you really have nothing better to do, like clean your gutters or polish your shoes. The moves of each character are anticlimactic, dull, and nearly identical to each other. While itís true that in non-story modes you can play as different characters with different fighting styles (brawler, grappler, and martial artist), there is so little variation between those characters, it feels like you have only three different fighters to choose from. There was more variety in the first Mortal Kombat game, for crying out loud.
Now, donít go thinking that even with such little variety, you might be able to find some fun in the fights themselves. While I said it was a button masher, I neglected to mention that itís also a button masher with incredibly unresponsive, and clunky controls. I found myself yelling, ďI was blocking! Hey, Iím blocking!Ē along with a few choice words throughout the duration of the game. Basically, the strategy is to mash a bunch of buttons, and hope that the AI doesnít hit you before you hit it.
And speaking of AI, Fight Club has one of the dumbest ever. If you do play this game, here is the best advice I can give you: duck and block. The AI will almost constantly try to trip you. I could literally duck and block the computerís sweep kicks like clockwork. I would then do the same move to the opponent. It would block, try the same move on me, Iíd block, etc.
I began to form a theory that this was the stupidest AI Iíd ever encountered in a video game, and decided to test this theory by engaging in that same sweep kick move over and over again, without doing anything else. I did this countless times, and merely had to wait until the block button inexplicably stopped working, or the AI forgot what it was doing, before a hit connected. I prefer a bit of a challenge in a fighting game, not a frustrating tug of war between myself and the computer.
At this point I thought Iíd be clever, shake the monotony up a bit with the create-a-fighter feature that this game has to offer. Needless to say, all of the fun a video game is supposed to have was sucked out of this aspect of Fight Club as well. You choose what type of fighter you want (from the three above styles), and then you can customize your characterís looks. Letís see, thereís fat white guy, and fat black guy. Skinny white guy, and skinny black guy. Bald white guy, bald black guy. Blonde hair, black hair. Blue jeans, black jeans. I am, unfortunately, not even being the slightest bit sarcastic.
You do have the ability to up the stats of your character, and depending on the stats that you increase, you can unlock new moves. Granted, these abilities are nearly identical to the ones you could use before, at least thereíre unlockables, right? Give your guy a name, and you can throw him into the heap with the rest of the generic looking characters. And, no, Tyler looks nothing like Brad Pitt, and Jack looks nothing like Edward Norton. Bob looks like Meat Loaf did in the movie, in that he has giant breasts. Have fun!
And just because I donít have enough to complain about when it comes to this game, be warned that load times in Fight Clubís create-a-fighter and character select screens are so slow, youíll wonder if there might possibly be something wrong with your PS2. Rest assured, there is nothing wrong with your console. There is something wrong with the game. Something very wrong.
The best thing about Fight Club is probably the graphics. That isnít to say that they are anything truly impressive in and of themselves, but they are at least slightly above average. The character design, as I said before, is completely lackluster. Not that I was expecting anything too flashy given the nature of the movie itís based off of, but still, there isnít much creativity here. Some minor characters from the film do show up as playable fighters, but at best you can only kind of recognize them.
The arenas are a different story. Most of them are downright cool. One in particular takes place in a parking lot on a rainy night. There is a nice effect with the rain that makes it look as though you are looking through a windshield on a stormy night, raindrops trickling down in a blurry stream across the foreground. There is another arena that takes place in the basement of the run down house that Tyler and Jack live in from the movie. Itís even half flooded, as per the usual. Each level is detailed, crisp, clear, and well put together. When I see the level of care that went into the arena designs, I become further perplexed by why the rest of the game sucks so badly.
The main aspect of the graphics that completely destroyed Fight Clubís score in this area is just one single major, glaring flaw: the story mode cut scenes. My god, the story mode cut scenes. The mistake is telling the story through series of poor-quality CG still shots. Still shots. This is not 1990, people! It shouldnít be hard to have the capacity to tell a story through moving, talking characters! The still shots look awkward, silly, and out of place, and for the second time while playing Fight Club, I thought that my PS2 console was on the fritz, and that the images were frozen.
It didnít get better though, and once again, the developers proved how little effort could possibly go into a game and still see it be released. I actually found myself enjoying the odd little still shots in a way, as the weird facial expressions and crappy attempts at still-frame Ďanimationí provided much amusement. I was literally laughing out loud at some points. Itís my sneaking suspicion, though, that that was not the desired effect.
Another ďhighĒ point of Fight Club is the soundtrack. The music has a nicely dark, ambient sort of techno style to it, and fits the spirit of the movie well. For some odd reason though, I had to turn the volume on my TV way up to hear much of it. When the voice acting in the story mode came on, though, the volume skyrocketed through the roof, and I found myself scrambling desperately for the remote to turn the thing down. And did the voice acting ever make me want to turn it down.
To go along with the crappy and odd still shots in story mode, is plenty of crappy and odd voice acting. I cannot adequately describe in words how awkward story mode is to listen to. Itís not that the best voice acting in the world would have made it much better, but it could have helped. Maybe.
There is no way anyone could get much value out of this fighting game when putting it up against its excellent counterparts in the recently-released fighting game market. For all of the unlockables, different playing modes (and by Ďdifferentí I mean Ďpractically the sameí) and even online capabilities, there is just so little there.
Non-fans and people unfamiliar with Fight Club will be so turned off by the game, they will probably never have the desire to see the wonderful movie it was based off of. True fans will be so offended, theyíd probably pay good money to give a good hard punch in the face to each member of the developing team. And in the long run, it just fails so miserably, there is absolutely no reason to buy it, unless you want to spend $50.00 on a coaster. Save your money. Trust me.
As a fan of the movie Fight Club, I had a feeling that I wasnít going to care for the game. As a reviewer though, I put those personal feelings aside and played it, keeping in mind that I had to score the merits of the game itself, not of the idea of turning a great movie into a happy meal for profit. I ended up not only not caring for the game, but downright hating it.
There is no excuse for developers to put out such an inherently flawed piece of crap. None. So donít let them get away with it. Steer far and clear away from this game in the stores. Money not spent on Fight Club, the video game, is money well spent.