Developer Ninja Theory has been pumping out some impressively cinematic and gorgeous third-person action games on console systems for a while now, but Fightback is their first foray into the mobile world. They started out simple, sticking to what they know– great looking brawling with a distinctly classic sensibility. Although the game comes out hot on the tail of Double Dragon Trilogy and is clearly influenced by such classic coin-op games, Fightback is built from the ground up to be a touchscreen-based fighter.
The game’s overall structure is delightfully old school. Heinous thugs have kidnapped your sister and only you– as a musclebound badass who looks like he stepped straight out of the ’80s– can get her back! Fight through more than 100 floors of thug-filled carnage to reach her, punishing everyone in your path. Use extreme martial arts, guns, bazookas, and more to dole out damage on wave after wave of enemies, all with the swipe of your finger.
Fightback differs from traditional brawlers in several important ways. The game avoids traditional virtual D-pad and button controls in favor of entirely swipe and tapping based attacks. You actually can’t move left and right at all. This seems odd at first, but the game is structured to make sure enemies come to you. Most importantly, the fighting system is amazingly good.
It’s easy to knock punch and kick chain combos out with the swiping system and the result is incredibly fun, if simplistic action. Whether trying to conquer the story mode or just grinding for cash in the endless mode, the game manages to stay entertaining thanks to the brutal looking, easy to pull off fighting system. It’s a good thing too, because otherwise the game might have been a wash thanks to some significant flaws in the rest of its structure.
Fightback is incredibly focused on microtransactions. When you do eventually die, there’s a waiting period to continue on—unless you want to dump some real cash in for instant gratification. While all the upgrades and extras are theoretically possible to achieve through normal play, doing so would require extreme hours of monotonous grinding. The game is fun, but there’s not nearly enough diversity to make it quite that worthwhile for most players.
There are plenty of extras though. You can get a variety of new outfits, tattoos, weapons, and armor for your brawler, and since the game is free to begin with, perhaps spending a few bucks isn’t a terrible thing here. It’s certainly a good looking game as well and it’s clear a lot of focus went into making this a primo iOS game. Using the Unity engine, the 3D visuals are sharp and detailed and the character animation is superb. Everything about the presentation harkens back to the old school 80’s action movies and games, but not in a way that compromises modern day tech.
So, Fightback is a bit of hit and miss. If the focus on spending money in the game doesn’t offend you, this is a well-down classic-style brawler that really tries to make the most of its platform. It looks great and the combat system is superb. There’s a ton of repetitive grinding as well– especially if you don’t want to spend cash—but overall, we still had plenty of fun taking down thugs.