Controller free fighting, kind of like Friday night in town.
Whilst the majority of Kinect launch titles can be classed as party games, they also tick a number of other boxes as well. Music game, tick. Driving game, tick. Exercise game, tick. Sports game, tick. With Fighters Uncaged from Ubisoft, we can firmly put a tick in the fighting game box. Although fighting has been touched upon in a couple of other games, this game is all about punching your way to success in the underground fighting world. Let’s see if it can go all the way, or if it is a first round knock-out.
The game takes place in the underground street-fighting world and sees the player being forced through circumstance to compete and work their way through the ranks. There really isn’t a whole lot of story going on, but then what did you expect? This is a fighting game after all. Players are first treated to a tutorial of epic proportions, that will seem to go on for ever whilst teaching the player various moves and making sure that the player knows where their arms and legs are. Whilst unbelievably long and insistent on teaching the very simplest of moves, the tutorial wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the games other issues.
Underground street-fighting is not supposed to be colourful or filled with smiley cheerful characters. But I can’t help but feel that it is not as bad as portrayed here. The graphics are not particularly great, taking gritty to a whole new level, and the various opponents that the player will face look like they have already been beaten quite heavily with the ugly stick, with an excess of tattoos and leather. For some reason I imagined underground street fighting to be populated by Jean-claude Van Damme look-a-likes. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. That being said, the player’s character is a softly-spoken pretty boy who so obviously doesn’t belong in this world that it surprises me that they let him through the door.
But how does the game play? Well, Fighters Uncaged will not show off the capabilities of Kinect to their full potential. The sheer joy of Kinect is having your own motions replicated on screen. Sadly, this dedicated fighting game does not allow for that, instead having the player perform certain moves in order to trigger moves on screen. I can’t help but feel that this is a slight cop-out, especially when compared to the boxing mini-game in Kinect Sports that allowed for such immersive replication of the players moves.
That being said, it could still make for a good game as long as it works properly. Which it doesn’t. The motion detection, which I am sure is at least in part down to the Kinect unit, is just not great. It seems to pick up that the player is performing a move, but has trouble deciphering which move it is and then performs a different move. In all fairness, this doesn’t happen all of the time. But it happens enough to make any kind of strategy difficult to carry out. If you are waiting for the perfect time to pull a devastating punch and then your on-screen persona tries to headbutt their opponent instead, it can be a bit frustrating.
The game itself isn’t exactly brimming with content either. The most important part of a fighting game is the multiplayer, but Fighters Uncaged has none. Instead, they have the single player mode which has the player fighting through various tiers. To unlock the next tier, the player must achieve a target number of points, which will have the player fighting the same opponents repeatedly to reach. This would not be too bad if there were some variety to the opponents, but there isn’t. Each of the opponents use the same moves, just with a slightly different frequency, and differ only in how much health they have and thus how long it takes to defeat them.
Of all the Kinect launch games, the one game that offered something other than family friendly fun is the game that seems the most broken. Those yearning to use their Kinect unit for something other than exercise or party fun will have to wait a while longer for a decent hardcore game. Fighters Uncaged should, in it’s current state, only be played as a party game, as watching someone try to play is more fun than playing yourself.