Were it not for Giant Bomb’s VR rodeo streams, Drunkn Bar Fight would have flown past my radar. It’s not particularly attractive, there’s no story, and there’s nothing of great significance to accomplish. Rather, this is an experience that lets you live out Fight Club inspired fantasies in a way that won’t end in a police action or highway chase through multiple state lines. With three unique sandboxes to play in, Drunkn Bar Fight is all about wreaking as much havoc as possible before you get knocked unconscious. It’s incredibly easy to let your fists do the talking because of 1:1 PlayStation Move support that does a pretty good job of tracking your frantic flying fists. To just use only fists is to show no creative imagination. Each bar is filled with a myriad of objects that can be thrown, smashed, or beaten senselessly against somebody’s skull until they break. You’re allowed to pick up anything that isn’t nailed down to the wall, floor, and bar itself including, but not limited to, beer bottles, wine glasses, laptops, fire extinguishers, serving trays, darts, and guitars. Better yet, if you’ve managed to knock someone out, you can lift up their body and toss them into other people or–and this is so much fun to do–recreate your favorite Western by sliding them across the surface of the bar and into a wall.
There are three environments available in the game: an average looking lounge situated at the corner of a busy city intersection, a country western saloon, and a wedding reception held in a balcony atop a classy high-rise building. Patrons mingle quietly to themselves, standing in place and looking off into the distance at…something. You, on the other hand, are a bow-legged bundle of trouble. The action begins when you attack someone, triggering their base-level AI programming that roughly translates to, “This guy’s a jerk. I’m going to punch him back.” Initially, each area has one person you can get into a melee with. With each victory, another patron is added to give you additional punching bags to manage. The wedding venue quickly became my favorite playground because you can crack a microphone stand across someone’s head, hurl frozen lobster and crab, throw a bouquet of flowers in someone’s face, and toss people off the balcony. All to the tune of generic, but oddly appropriate, genre music being piped out from an interactive jukebox.
When I first saw footage of Drunkn Bar Fight, I felt like I was missing out by not owning a Vive or Oculus Rift. That’s my personal FOMO anxiety: I don’t get to try out weird, one-off VR experiences that are readily available on the PC. So I’m glad that this made it onto the PSVR. And best of all, it appears to have weathered any transitional and technical issues just fine. Based on what I’ve seen on streams, the handling of your brawler appears largely unchanged for the console release. Initially, though, you were unable to manually turn the in-game camera apart from physically turning your body around. This caused some spatial problems as a result of my overzealousness. Swinging my arms out to throw a punch and reaching for objects a few feet away caused me to knock over a glass of water from my coffee table, strike some stuff off the fireplace mantle, knock over a light, and frighten my house pets. A few days after I received the game for review, the developers pushed out an update that added camera control via the Move wand’s face buttons. It took some getting used to, the turn speed of the camera is a little slow for my tastes (probably to reduce feelings of nausea), but I was grateful for the fix because it helped to keep me locked in placed and the property damage to a happy minimum.
Graphically speaking, the game is not likely to win any technical awards. Some of the assets, models, and textures are plain and simple while others, namely the character models, are inconsistent and ugly. Some characters have this weird, pinched face look that bears a strong resemblance to Arseface from Garth Ennis’ Preacher comics. Their faces also have shading in odd angles, as if a secondary light source exists independently around their heads. There’s one character that stood out in the wedding venue because of how plain and simple his features were. It was like he was wearing a paper mask or it was a temporary, placeholder texture to be fixed later. I thought it weird and slightly off-putting but I suppose makes it all the more fun to start beating his face. The patrons also exhibit funny combat behaviors during a melee. One patron in the street bar pulls the crane stance from The Karate Kid before launching a kick. Another spins his arms in circles at his sides as he slowly walks in your direction.
To show that one shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, your player character isn’t much to look at either–well, the bits you can see, at least. He’s got these weirdly long and strangely shaded arms and fists, and legs that look permanently stuck at odd angles. It’s as if you’re controlling an alien wearing human skin who has little understanding of how the human body is supposed to move. Actually, wait. Now that I think about it, Drunkn Bar Fight becomes exponentially funnier if you play it that way: Far off in the deepest part of the galaxy, an alien race has discovered the planet Earth and is curious about its people and culture. Unfortunately, their basis for learning human interaction was gleaned from bar brawl movies. As the sole member of an exploratory mission, you waddle into a bar and start punching random people in the face, believing that to be their way of saying, “Hello, sir or madam, I am pleased to meet you.”
With no objectives or story to experience, Drunkn Bar Fight is, at best, a virtual reality sandbox/tech demo. This is most certainly a game I’m going to keep installed just so I can break it out at parties. It’s accessible to pretty much anyone, however, the constant movement might be enough to trigger motion sickness in more sensitive players. A great pick up and play type of game, Drunkn Bar Fight is probably the best stress reliever game available on PlayStation VR.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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