Motion Fighter: Putting Science Back Into the Sweet Science

Viewed in the hands of someone who helped make or market the game, the Playstation 3's motion controlled Motion Fighter looks like the sort of thing everyone will want to play and watch be played. But once it was in my hands things changed, drastically.

To play Motion Fighter you hold not one, but two Move controllers in your hands, like ultra-lightweight plastic dumbbells. That done, bobbing and weaving, ducking and duking should be a simple matter of shadow boxing. But it didn't quite work out that way. The first issue I noticed was that the game seemed to have a slight delay in response, perhaps great than the delay found in both the Wii remote and Project Natal, though it was hard to tell.

The reason it was so obvious with Motion Fighter was because the game seemed to be shooting for one-to-one motion detection, meaning that it looked like, felt like it was trying to translate my fast jabs, my upper cuts, my round houses in real time and turn them into gameplay. This created a bit of kinetic dissonance.

Most graphically intense Wii games, even upcoming MotionPlus' Red Steel 2, don't do that. Instead they often use your motions to trigger pre-canned animation.

But Motion Fighter was responding to what I was doing almost on the fly.

The bigger issue was that instead of learning my motions and turning them into fighting moves, the game wanted me to learn its moves. That's the exact opposite of want in a game like this. I don't want motion control to make gaming more complex, I want to make it more intuitive.

In the case of Motion Fighter I had to know that an uppercut required me to twist my wrist before delivering a punch. That if I wanted to fight dirty, grabbing an opponent, I had to press two buttons. There seemed to be a whole library of motions that the game asked me to learn, judging by the quick info screen that popped up before a fight.

The game also didn't do a great job of showing when my character landed a successful, powerful punch all of the time. Often I could tell when I smacked my opponent in the head or gut, but there were also times when it just didn't seem to click and I couldn't tell if I was being blocked or winning.

To be fair the game was very early in development. There's plenty of time for the team to hone the reaction times between motion and on-screen movement. Also tweaking the animation should be fairly simple. The biggest concern I have for the game is how complex it makes something that should feel as natural as swinging your arm.

Interested in more details about the Playstation Move like pricing, release window and our thoughts on the other games? Check out our complete guide here.