The Thrill of the Fight is an early access VR boxing game, currently available for the HTC Vive only. Being developed by a single man, Ian Fitz, I can attest that this labor of love is a genuinely good time for anyone looking to actualize on their inner Rocky.
The game begins with a weigh in: you step on a scale (thank god it’s not accurate), look up, your photo is taken, the game then dissolves around you, and you reappear in a small gym, in front of who I like to call, “the angry dude”, whom I assume is your trainer. You’re then prompted to mimic the way in which he holds the controllers, ensuring a safe & secure grip (let us not forget the lessons of Wii bowling), walk to the cork board, and literally punch a ticket with a fighter’s name on it.
This all may sound pretty bland, but I assure you, it is not. With my buddy Steve in tow, I helped him put on the Vive head set. Mick to his Rocky, I handed him the controllers- which appear as gloves in game- and watched the magic unfold. I observed on my monitor from a distance in a chair as he touched gloves with his opponent. I immediately saw Steve’s posture change from loose to sure footed, and looking ready to throw hay-makers. We laughed and jeered at the opponent as he attempted to fend off the AI’s advances. Steve took a defensive tact, which ultimately led to him being knocked down two times, one knock down away from a TKO. But Steve would not disappoint. Down 2-1, he rallied to TKO his opponent, and a loud roar arose from the both of us as his opponent hit the canvas.
Now it was my turn. I entered the ring for the first time with the “angry dude’s” look alike (or is it him? I don’t know), touched gloves, and I was off. Having witnessed Steve’s near loss, I wasn’t taking any chances and went buck wild on my opponent. If he blocked my left jab, I immediately punched him in the gut with my right, and vice versa. I gained momentum as I heard Steve shouting “you’re kicking his ass!.” Before I knew it, I had TKO’d the AI with nary a scratch. Later on, when Steve had gone home, I went all the way and beat the four available fighters, without once being knocked out. I found out early on that if I held up my hands in a style similar to Thai Boxing, I could easily deflect my opponent’s punches with a single glove, something which has since been addressed with an update, listed here:
Steam store note:
AUGUST 14 – FYIANDEV
This week’s update is focused mainly on increasing the game’s difficulty. Update #3 made enemy blocking too weak, and Update #4 made player blocking too strong. This has been evened out in Update #5.
Enemy blocking has been revamped. Enemies are blocking more than they used to, and their blocking is harder to break through than it was previously.
Player blocking is a little more difficult. It’s now easier for punches to slip around your guard if it’s not tight enough (your arms won’t get pushed apart like they did before Update #4, though).
Enemies now start to sweat during the match.
Enemies now hit a bit harder.
Deflecting the enemy’s arms is less powerful.
Hitboxes have been adjusted across the board to be more accurate and to make arm tangling happen less.
Small tweaks to enemy movement
The variety of the fighters so far is acceptable, but one fighter in particular does stand out: Edmund “the Spider” Carter. This opponent absolutely towers over you, giving you an immediate sense of dread. He’s also very pale skinned and gray-haired, a stark contrast to the other fighters who are of average skin tones, similar height to your own avatar, and generally “normal” in their appearance. Going forward, there’s no doubt I’d like to see some more variety to the character models.
Also lacking thus far is a crowd. I really wanted to see people’s reactions as my opponent hit the canvas, or even turn around and pull a Hulk Hogan and do his signature rally gestures towards my new and adoring fans.
Criticisms aside, at $9.99 this is a must-buy for any boxing fans out there. The Thrill of the Fight is an absolute blast to play with friends as it now stands, and, given that it’s early access, it should be an extremely competent single player experience all in due time.