After my initial impression of the new Kinect, I thought games designed with the device in mind would change. It works great in Kinect Sports Rivals, and the motion detection, while minimal, in other games is executed superbly. So when I booted up Fighter Within, I was expecting a pretty decent romp at punching towards my television. I was so, so wrong. This game is a mess, and reminds me of the glory (?) days of the original Kinect, where games often ended up with me flailing my arms around, not in glee, but in pure frustration.
Remember how painful it was to navigate menus and such with the original Kinect? Holding your hand out, waiting for that circle to fill only to have your hopes and dreams smashed when your hands moves at the last second. That is what it is like trying to get a game going in Fighter Within. There is no controller support, which means I spent a large chunk of time fighting with the menus.
So I start punching and kicking at my screen, which is hilarious in and of itself to watch. Things are going OK for the most part, and then I attempt a more complicated move. Something like a throw or block sends Fighter Within into a spiral of madness. Half the time it registered something I wasn’t trying to do, while the other half it didn’t recognize it at all. It is frustrating. I am not the fittest guy, and performing these moves takes some effort, then only to have them ignored due to poor design is infuriating.
So if it isn’t bad enough that the combat system only works half the time, the times that it does work suffers from some truly poor design. One might think that a game where I punch and kick at the TV would do just that, but instead the developers seemed to foresee that their game simply didn’t work. For example when a certain set of moves is executed, the game goes into a cut scene of sorts to show an auto combo. Then when performing certain actions, another cut scene showcasing counter moves pops up. It’s like the fighting is being done on its own half the time, making this more a fight instigator than simulation.
Oh hey, there is a story mode here, and it is as painful as the rest of the package. Dial up plenty of cheesy lines and whiny characters and you have the idea. The core concept is that two rival dojos are sparring off against each other in a battle of supremacy, but it ends up feeling like a half-baked teen movie that is chock full of bad acting and clichés. It is laughable at best, and painful at its worst. There is nothing to redeem this mess of a game.
If there is a bright spot to be found here, it is the way this game looks. These visuals are sharp and some of the animations are impressive, but that is because most of it is simply cut scenes involving pre-determined combos. I wanted to love the second offering from Ubisoft of a Kinect fighting game, but this simply falls flat on every level. If you own an Xbox One, do not go anywhere near this game. Pick up Killer Instinct and be happy with a true fighting game experience. This is trash that I was hoping to avoid with the new iteration of Kinect.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.