“Sex sells,” Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations, once told the world. In Girl Fight, it’s the “same sex” that sells. Eight hot, scantily clad women duke it out in Kung Fu Factory’s downloadable brawler. While it may do nothing for the ongoing and much-needed debate about women within the games industry, its borderline misogyny makes the game feels like it is stuck in its own narcissistic past.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Publisher: Majesco, Microprose
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Genre: Femme Fatale 3D Brawler
Release Date: September, 24 2013
ESRB Raing: Mature
Every fighting game needs a story as to why two people are randomly fighting in a customised arena. Not content with courting geeks with just a high amount of boobage and risqué lesbian poses, Girl Fight throws some sci-fi into the mix. The setup of the game is that eight fighters have been trapped in a virtual reality world known as the Mainframe created by The Foundation, a nefarious organisation that seeks to weaponise Psionic fighting abilities, or Psi powers. The company has targeted the game’s cast as each has their own unique Psi abilities. The combatants also have their own reason and backstory for wishing to fight against the Foundation, and its AI interface named Chrome, and now must fight each other to escape to the real world.
Flashing all the hallmarks of a bad B-movie with utter pride, Girl Fight lunges forth with a simple control system – punch, kick, defend, and grab – an identical setup to that of the similarly fleshy Dead or Alive fighting series. Players can string together combos using the four buttons, as well as activate their Psi powers using the two shoulder buttons to give them the upper hand, such as Steel Skin or Life Leech. However, it’s unlikely players will even need to use these advanced skills as the oppononment AI is woeful and provided about as much challenge as a bra clip does to a gigolo. It was possible to defeat every opponent without losing a single fight by button mashing all the way to the finale on the Normal difficulty setting. The Hard difficulty proved much the same, although Inhuman offered more of a challenge, but in an unfair, frustrating kind of way. This was especially felt when the computer-controlled character repeatedly rose from the brink of annihilation to win more than once. Thankfully the game also features an online mode, allowing players from around the world to engage in duels.
The game allows a number of customisation options, such as changing the length of each battle, how many rounds you wish, and a variety of skins for each fighter. Initially, only one character is unlocked and available to use. Others become available when you beat the game and see your character posing naked as a reward. While much of the emphasis of the game is on the sexy characters, less attention has been paid to the environments. Although the levels are sufficiently rendered, depicting war-torn American cities, lunar bases, or ruined churches, players cannot interact with any of this. This gives me the impression that at least part of the reason for including the virtual reality conceit was to cover-up the non-interactive environments. If a player hurls their opponent at a wall, they will instead hit a VR energy barrier, which sucks the fun right out of the fight. In fighting games, you want to smack your enemies through walls and bash their heads against boxes or other debris.
In an age when fighting games have enjoyed a small resurgence with the likes of the Mortal Kombat reboot and Street Fighter IV, Girl Fight does not differentiate itself enough with its gameplay, story, or features. The title itself suggests a certain target market, but unfortunately players can already salivate over big-bosomed fighters baring too much flesh in Team Ninja’s superior Dead or Alive 5.
The developers at Kung Fu Factory previously worked on Ubisoft’s free-to-play fighter Spartacus Legends, an adequate effort that managed to thread some RPG elements into the fighting gameplay. This is one of the reasons why Girl Fight feels like a step backwards for the company, not to mention the portrayal of female characters within games. These eight fighters are powerful women, but only in a physical sense, in the same way that a stripper is powerful for twirling around a pole. They are designed primarily to be ogled while bouncing around on the screen, but there’s very little magic in their movements. The Psi powers are a nice addition, but sadly, there are no amazing special moves, and the combos are problematic to pull off. Couple that with a roster of only eight fighters, whose fighting styles and Psi powers are so similar they might as well be clones, and what is offered is a short, banal sci-fi-sweetened fighting game that markets itself too much on sex and not enough on challenging gameplay.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Girl Fight was provided by Majesco for the purposes of this review.