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Insane in the MMA-game, December 7, 2020
I am not convinced this is not a joke.
Fight Forever is a maximalist MMA simulator, and it leans hard into every dudebro cliché you can imagine. You play an up-and-coming fighter, who gets to pick a name, a mentor, and a style, from a dozen or so options for each (I opted to name my – I think guy? – Frankie, hoping that I’d eventually be able to take a trip to Hollywood. No dice, but pre-fight my trainer did tell me to “Relax”, so I got my win after all). The heart of the gameplay is preparing for, then engaging in, a series of amateur and ultimately professional fights.
It is hard to overstate how authentically meatheaded this all feels. Your options in between fights include three different versions of training (“Train,” “Spar,” and “Fight Camp”), and one catch-all category labeled “Life”, with sub-menus for “Travel,” “Social,” “Sports,” “Stuff,” and “Master Class.” Master Class lets you get inspirational quotes from e.g. Margaret Thatcher. The others have like 15 grayed-out options and only one that works; for Social, predictably, it’s Booty Calls (Family, Philanthropy, Date, Read, Teach, and, endearingly, Tabletop Games, all either need to be unlocked or haven’t been implemented yet. You’ll also eventually be able to purchase Real State).
Training is the main focus of the game, as far as I could tell. It allows you to increase an incredible array of stats, both primary and derived. You can focus on “Boxing” or “TKD” or “Sambo” (erm) or for that matter “Awesomeness” or “Strategy” at Fight Camp, while Training lets you choose from a bunch of different exercises that seem to relate indirectly to this flurry of statistics. At one point I was told my “measurable takedown level” was 0 – seems bad! There’s no way I could see to actually access these all on one screen, though the Sparring option I think allows you to reveal a single one per mainline fight.
Speaking of those fights, there’s much less here than you might think. You click “fight”, you get some text, a mysterious gauge shows up, and you win or you lose, with no indication of why. There are sometimes previews of who you’ll be up against next, but these are beyond cryptic: the most clear one I got was a flag that the next opponent was very durable, but beats me whether that meant I should be focusing on endurance to be able to last in the ring with him, or power to break through his defenses (I tried endurance, and I lost. Or maybe my rockstar juice level wasn’t high enough? Yes, that’s a real stat). Heaven only knows what one’s meant to do to prepare to fight “well-educated boxers” (distract them with some Keats, perhaps?). And I thrilled to the mental image of going up against an “orthodox” fighter (I am picturing the hat, sideburns, and tallit).
Surprisingly, this is actually pretty fun! Kieron Gillen has some line, I think in a review of Diablo or one of its progeny, that a dirty secret of video games is that sometimes it’s enough to just watch a number go up. FF has a bunch of numbers and they go up – what more do you need? The bloom started to come off the rose once I got silver in the Olympics and then transitioned from amateur to pro, though. I found these bouts much harder, and suddenly training cost money. I also kept getting concussed and told I should see a doctor, but couldn’t find that option. Losing interest, I decided to explore the game’s legacy mechanic, where you can have a kid and shift to guiding their journey through martial arts. Once I clicked to confirm this is what I wanted to do (with the cheapest option, because apparently you’re paying for your sperm/egg donor?) I got this sequence of text:
"Frankie is succesfully having sexual intercourse with Busting Beaver, and viceversa…
Name your gamebred:
[blank to fill in name]
I swear I’m not making any of that up.
Anyway the game restarted except now I’m 14 and unable to compete in fights (good?) but I’m still able to engage in booty calls (NOPE). My age is stuck at 14.203846153846153 and I’m not sure how to advance time to the point that I can get back in the game, so I’m calling it here: goodnight sweet prince, and may your days be filled with the wisdom of the Iron Lady and getting ready to fight an opponent “who throws punches and punches”.