First impressions say a lot, and Drunken Fist is billed as a “Totally Accurate Beat-Em Up”. Of course, this is not to be taken seriously. However, I won’t bother building up any tension here, as during my two and a bit years writing for TheXboxHub, I can comfortably say this is the worst game I have played. In fact, it’s probably the worst game I have ever played.
I can’t decide if Drunken Fist is a game, or a horrendous attempt to simulate what it’s like to be drunk. The wonky camera is enough to make anyone queasy, and would make more sense if it was just the intoxicated character that was unsteady on his feet, not the cameraman angled from a third-person perspective. Getting around is truly horrendous; your drunken character seemingly stumbling around where he wants, hardly responding to your controls and regularly falling over. I totally understand your character is designed not to move as you command, but more control is needed here – it’s almost unplayable.
In Drunken Fist you’ll fall over a lot, which chips away at your health. There are, frankly, lazy invisible walls used to force you to take certain routes and stop you from reaching the next level before beating up the required number of people. For example, in the second “level” you’ll be forced to pass through some gardens, when there is clearly a road which would take you around them that is blocked off by an invisible wall. A cop is on patrol in the gardens and you’re supposed to avoid him, but he won’t see you unless you’re right in front of him. Because of the god awful controls you’ll most likely stumble into him, but if you then stumble away he will just go back to his patrol as if nothing happened. It’s woeful.
To make matters worse, it all looks blocky and unattractive, and there is no background away from the street setting. Instead, all that lies in the horizon is a black void. Lazy.
Some may take issue with a game based on you going around, getting into fights with pedestrians whilst drunk. However, it’s so ridiculous it’s mostly non-offensive. Mostly.
You regularly have to empty your bladder in public once your “pee meter” fills up. You’ll more than likely slip over on it too, as will your enemies. Not only this, but blood will splatter as you fight and, in all honesty, it’s not really necessary and feels out of place given the comedic vibe the game is going for. As a result Drunken Fist strikes a crude and quasi-violent tone, whilst managing to remain unfunny at the same time. And that sounds like a fair few people I’ve met whilst out on the town over the years.
The game is split into “levels”, but they actually flow directly into each other. This results in the single player campaign coming across as one long drunken ramble around the night streets, starting trouble with different stereotypical social groups (jocks, hipsters etc). Drunken Fist will mercifully autosave after each level however, so you don’t have to go through it all again if you die. Thank God.
You have a pretty generous amount of health given the fact you are blind drunk, whilst your enemies will go down after a couple of punches. Sometimes, your finishing blow will slow down time and you’ll let out an “ohhhh yeah”, in an oddly mismatched voice with the character you’re playing as, who for some reason is revelling in the violence. You’ll need to take out a certain number of enemies to beat each stage, and sometimes you’ll have to achieve other objectives, such as avoiding cops or finding items. However, this doesn’t add much in the way of variety to the proceedings.
In Drunken Fist you will need to scavenge for food and more booze as you stumble around, to replenish your health and keep you intoxicated. The rag-doll physics match your drunken state pretty well, and also apply to your equally intoxicated enemies who, for some reason, are all well up for a scrap. What often follows is not a fight, or a brawl, but instead two snake-like invertebrates intertwining in some sort of strange, paralysed embrace.
When you square up to an enemy, many swings you take will miss, despite you swearing you were on target. In the end, it feels like pot luck, with you having very limited control over what your character does. You have an energy meter which depletes as you fight, so whilst waiting for it to replenish you’re a sitting duck.
It’s also possible to view the move list from the main menu or when you hit pause. There are a fair few combinations to try out, but there is little incentive to bother as opposed to just spamming the same move to get the job done. On top of all this is the over-sensitive camera (loosely controlled with the right thumbstick) which feels just as drunk itself. Maybe that’s the point.
One redeeming factor in Drunken Fist on Xbox is that achievements come thick and fast. You don’t need to do anything particularly taxing to unlock these; you’ll get a stack of Gamerscore simply for playing. However, sticking it out is an achievement in itself.
Drunken Fist is built on a very thin foundation, executed in poor taste, and poorly created in general. It’s very much what I imagine a drunken brawl to be like. Slow, painful and not particularly enjoyed by anyone.