Reality Fighters – hands-on preview

A brown-skinned Gandhi appears with our face, complete with glasses. He’s trim and muscular, unlike us. He wears a yellow trucker hat, sports a Snidely Whiplash mustache and pink-printed jacket straight out of 1991. With golden, pointy shoes in tow and a gigantic hammer to wield, our fighter steps onto a coffee-table outfitted with LED lights and proceeds to destroy a zombie fighter, while avoiding my half-filled Coke.

Let’s back up. Reality Fighters uses the NGP’s Augmented Reality wizardry – e.g. magic – to place you in a fighting game. The situation chronicled above was completely intentional, as we found we do our best fighting when looking like a hip-hop pacifist. Yucks aside, it seems there are two selling points to Reality Fighters; the character creator and the fighting game itself. We’ll touch more on the latter in a little bit.

To start, we used the front-facing camera to snap a photo of our mug. You can use the NGP’s outward-facing camera as well if you want to capture your friends, any celebrities off a computer monitor, or fleshy member in your pants (don’t blame us Sony, kids are bound to find out!). The game then automatically finds your eyes and mouth in order to track facial movements and animate fight reactions. All very cool stuff.

Next we started customizing our fighter. You can select gender, skin color, and so on. To change body type, you slide along a scale from Fat to Thin and Weak to Strong. Your fighter changes in real-time and there aren’t any crazy load times as of now. There are around 300 pieces of clothing from headgear to shoes and over 20 weapons to gain. Some of these must be won in tournaments, unlocked as you progress through the game or can be found as DLC. The demoer wasn’t ready to divulge details, but DLC is a strong possibility due to that being a descriptor for one of the clothing items. But then again, this is a preview build of an unfinished game, so take that for what it is.

After we outfitted him in the best possible dress, we were ready to choose fight styles. Reality Fighters will have around 16 fight styles from serious standouts Boxer, Mantis, Superhero to wacky ones like Zombie and Wrestler. We chose Superhero and were whisked away to a Quick Fight. Here comes the reality part. As the fight loaded, we were shown what the back-mounted camera saw. Directly in front of us was the aforementioned glowy coffee-table with my soda perched on top. After briefly debating whether or not to use our crotch for the upcoming battle, we decided to just use the coffee-table.

Now, there are two ways to play Reality Fighters. You can use the customizable fighters or you can use AR cards. The upside to using AR cards is that as long as the cards are being photographed by the NGP, the fighters are scalable. This means you can zoom in on them or walk around them for a full 3D view. The downside to using customizable fighters is that you cannot do that. Rather if your camera swings away from the fight, the fighters will start to drift towards wherever you have focused the camera.

This brings up an issue we have of maneuvering the NGP like a fight pad, resulting in the battle moving as well. It’s a little disorienting and an issue the devs are aware of. Once we got into the actual fight, we were actually surprised at how responsive the system was. There’s a good fight system in here. We were able to pull off counters, throws, combos… but we don’t know how. And we didn’t have time to really dive into what the fighter has to offer. What’s even more disappointing is that the devs really want an engaging fighting experience ala Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, yet we have only hints that one exist. We’d like to really sit down, away from the front-ended kitsch of the AR stuff and just play around.

Still, there is more than enough to draw in fighting fans, casual players and people who just like screwing around with their friends’ faces. We hope to know more soon. Maybe E3 will provide more answers?

Jun 2, 2011

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