Fighter Uncaged review: Kinect's first fighting game falls flat on its face
Fighters Uncaged is the first Kinect game to be aimed at the Xbox 360's chief user base of hardcore gamers. After a dizzying rainbow of party games, virtual pets and dancing simulators, Kinect has finally decided to ‘man up' and offer us something gritty. In short, it's No More Mr. Nice Kinect!
- It's a Kinect game for hardcore gamers (well, it is on paper at least)
- Flawed controls, uninspired gameplay, no two-player mode
Kinect for Xbox 360 has the potential to deliver unique and engaging experiences for non-casual gamers. Unfortunately, Fighters Uncaged is not one of these games. Can we put it back in its cage now?
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
Unfortunately, the end result is comparable to Barney the Dinosaur donning a bandanna and trying to act tough. It just doesn't work on any level. At all. Like The Fight: Lights Out on PlayStation Move, Fighters Uncaged fails spectacularly as a motion-based fighter. It's a shame too, because we were really hoping to like this game. But there it is.
As its name implies, Fighters Uncaged is a fighting game that uses the Kinect sensor to map your movements onscreen. Instead of mashing buttons on a control pad, every kick, punch and parry is achieved in real-time using your actual body. (The game adopts a third-person perspective, with your avatar taking up the bottom section of the screen.)
The trick to Fighters Uncaged is to read your opponent's next attack and choose your response accordingly: do you duck an incoming punch, block with your arm, or counter with a far-reaching kick? It's definitely an intriguing concept — and one that's sure to get right-wing puritans' knickers in a twist. In practice though, the concept falls apart almost immediately. In short, Fighters Uncaged is too unresponsive, too unimaginative and too unlikeable to be worth your hard-earned cash. It's also the only fighting game in living memory without a two-player mode — but more on this later.
After a tediously long tutorial that talks you through all the key moves in the game, Fighters Uncaged throws you into a series of one-on-one brawls against a motley crew of thugs. Plot and cut scenes are kept to a bare minimum, which is probably just as well given the terrible voice-acting and bland character designs on display. Tonally, Fighters Uncaged reminds us of one of those full motion video fighting games from the mid-1990s, but sadly without the kitsch value.
There are 12 different combatants in all, which isn't particularly robust for a fighting game. By contrast, Street Fighter IV boasts 25 fighters and Tekken 6 had roster of more than 40. We think this may be a blessing in disguise however — if we had to engage in 40 separate bouts in this game, we'd probably gnaw our own arms off in anguish.
The main problem with Fighters Uncaged — predictably — is its motion-control interface. The Kinect sensor lacks the level of sophistication needed to map your movements onscreen (or at least, it does for this particular game, anyway). On numerous occasions, we'd lean back to avoid an incoming blow, only for our character to lunge forward with an ill-timed kick and cop a beating to the head.
As you can imagine, this soon becomes incredibly frustrating — at best, you only ever feel half in control of your character. We once played Street Fighter IV with a busted arcade stick; Fighters Uncaged seems to offer up a similar experience. (To be fair, the moves do get somewhat easier to pull off after plenty of practice — but only slightly. Even after days of play-testing, an element of randomness still hung over our attacks.)
Fighters Uncaged also suffers from significant lag, which makes tactical fighting next to impossible. Limb-flailing (the equivalent of button-mashing) is also out the window due to the game's reliance on precise, controlled movements. In other words, you can't just haphazardly slap the air like in Wii Sports Boxing. Tch.
The game is also lacking in gravity-defying moves and devastating combos: two cornerstones of the fighting genre. To be fair, this would've required you to pull off the same move in real-life, but the lack of cinematic verve is still pretty depressing. You're basically just exchanging blows with ugly men in dark alleyways. Where are my hadoukens, damnit?
But the game's cardinal sin is its lack of a two-player mode. Unlike practically every other fighting game in the history of the universe, Fighters Uncaged is single-player only. No really. This means no trash-talking your friends, no heated competitions in your lounge room and no fun, basically.
Even if Fighters Uncaged had boasted responsive controls and a gripping storyline, this still would've been a pretty crushing omission (hell, even Rise of the Robots — generally regarded to be the worst fighting game of all time — let you compete against a friend). As it stands, the lack of multiplayer is the final nail in the game's coffin.
For all its fist-pumping potential, Fighters Uncaged was KO-ed on arrival. The worst Kinect game thus far.
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