The last time I played a motion based fighter game on the Kinect was a little over a year ago when I flailed away to Ubisoft’s Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Xbox 360 Kinect. At the time, I was disappointed in the game and suggested to people that it was best to simply avoid it all together. Just over a year later Ubisoft has pumped out yet another motion based fighting game just in time for the launch of the Xbox One. Just when I thought it could not get any worse than Marvel Avengers, it has. In fact, it is considerably worse. Fighter Within is not only a game you should avoid this holiday season but it’s a game the Xbox One Kinect naysayers will likely use as a platform to say: “OMG this is why you should have abandoned the Kinect Microsoft!”
Remarkably enough, Fighter Within is not all about fighting as the game does have a semblance of a single player storyline. Before you get your hopes up, the story really is pointless and exists only to catch your breath in between fights. It’s a silly storyline and takes itself far too seriously. In fact, the way the story is presented with picture stills and crappy dialogue is almost pathetic. In some instances it is almost laughable but not in a “funny ha ha” way but rather a “this is horrible” way. The game would have been better served to focus on comedic dialogue and perhaps make fun of how horrible it is, as opposed to voice acting that makes the acting in the movie Bloodsport sound fantastic.
Most of my time with the Fighter Within was spent in the single player mode which feels like one big long tutorial – a two to three hour tutorial. Yes the single player is that short but that is what we call “a blessing in disguise” because trust me, a couple of hours is plenty!
As you would expect, you control a fighter using your full body motions and the Xbox One Kinect detects your body moves. As you progress along various counter moves, power moves, blocks and other combos are unlocked. Before you face a new fighter or one you have already fought you are introduced to a new skill. At first the game seemed to do a nice job at picking up my motions but once some of the combo’s, counter attacks, picking up a stick move and power moves were introduced, any semblance of the game accurately detecting my motions was thrown out the window. It was a frustrating experience and completely zapped any enjoyment I was having with the game. Body throws almost never worked as they should. Combo moves were incredibly finicky as well. I felt completely restricted when fighting and far too often I felt powerless. Needless to say, I was not enjoying this experience whatsoever.
On the bright side, I did manage to work up quite the sweat when playing the game. If this was a fitness game, Fighter Within would probably score a little better. Unfortunately it is isn’t and stands as a game that could have used far more time in the oven.
The fights themselves are reasonably quick lasting only a couple of rounds. I was able to progress along at a decent pace until about the mid-way mark when the fighters all of the sudden became more difficult to beat. It does become somewhat of a chore at this stage, as you are taking on one fighter after the next. I actually found myself bored. I didn’t care about the characters and I didn’t care about the game. While playing the game I spent more time thinking about what I would rather play on my new shiny Xbox One than the actual game itself.
Sadly, it doesn’t get any better on the local multiplayer side of the house either. After only one match, my daughter turned to me and said, “this is dumb dad, I don’t want to play anymore”. My response to her: “I understand kiddo, I don’t want to play anymore either”. Again, the biggest issue we had was the responsiveness of the motion controls. It never felt like we were fighting or that the game was accurately capturing our moves. It seemed like a mess but thank goodness it is a budget title. Wait a second it’s a 60 dollar game? Well that is just criminal.
Navigating the menus and even advancing from fight to fight was just as painful an experience. I remain puzzled how games like Dance Central are able to make navigating menus such a seamless experience while Fighter Within, a supposed next-gen advancement, is the polar opposite. Holding out your hand and punching menu items on the surface seems straight forward yet the hand icon is twitchy, jerks all over the place and it seems to have a mind of its own at times. More often than not I would find myself frustrated and resort to the Xbox One controller to get to the areas I needed to go.
Visually, Fighter Within is not a bad looking game. In fact, it looks pretty good when it comes to the animations and the locations of the fights. For a next-gen game it’s a good looking but a very bare bones game in terms of content and presentation. Sound wise, Fighter Within is nothing spectacular and mostly forgettable.
Ubisoft’s Fighter Within is not the start Kinect version 2.0 was looking for. If anything it gives all the Xbox One doomsayers a glaring example of why the Kinect should have been abandoned a long time ago. Even if this game was a fraction of its baffling $59.99 price tag, I would not recommend it for anyone. The Fighter Within has only one good thing going for it and that is you can burn a few calories after a fight or two. Otherwise, do yourself a favour, avoid this game as it’s awful.