Xbox One
1.5 stars
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Overall Grade
1.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
1 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
3 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
2 Stars
Replay Factor
1.5 Stars

Fighter Within

Street Date:
November 19th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
February 20th, 2014
Game Release Year:
2013
Platform:
Xbox One
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Developer:
Daoka
ESRB Rating:
T (Teen)

Introduction

Filling out the shooter-heavy launch library on the Xbox One is the 'Fighter Within.' It's likely that the initial concept for Ubisoft's 'Fighter Within' was designed to showcase the Kinect's ability to track motion in games using enhanced sensors. Developed by Dakota, the game puts the player in control of Matt Gilford, a street fighter that's attempting to improve his repertoire of fighting moves. So not only is the 'Fighter Within' one of the few fighting games for the new console, but it's also a test of the new Kinect as well as game with an included promise of active, exercising play.

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Conceptually, the game is supposed to walk you through various fighting styles and copy the player's movements using the Kinect. In reality, it's anything but that. By the way, it's the spiritual successor to Ubisoft's poorly reviewed 'Fighters Uncaged,' an early attempt to showcase the original Kinect on the Xbox 360.

Jumping into the core game, the player is immediately shuffled into the Initiation story mode. It's basically a two hour tutorial mode that walks the player through the basics of fighting. Played over the course of twenty-one matches, the narrative is molded around a vague quest that's supposed to lead to a book written by Genghis Khan that contains ancient, mysterious fighting techniques that only the player can unlock. Of course, the story doesn't really go anywhere and seems like an annoying backdrop to the overall experience.

One of the more annoying aspects of the game, attempting to navigate the menu system with Minority Report style of sliding screens around is just pointless. I can't tell you how many times that I cursed the screen when the on-screen cursor didn't perform the action that I requested. You have to default back to the controller, there's really no way around it. Ultimately, this breaks up any attempt of control fluidity that the developer was going for.

Sadly, the controls only improve slightly within the actual matches. While the game does do a decent job of walking the player though the moves, different types of punches and kicks are often misread by the game. Early on, the game also forces you to learn these moves and it can get quite frustrating when the game isn't registering an action you are performing over and over. At some point, it's gets so frustrating that you will be satisfied with flailing your appendages around in order to register anything on-screen.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

One of the best aspects of the 'Fighter Within' (by default), the visuals are competitive to what you would find on the Xbox 360. Colors are vibrant, player models are detailed and the animations are relatively fluid. In addition, the framerate was usually solid and the on-screen character did a good job of keeping up when the Kinect actually registered my movements. There's also a large quantity of in-game cutscenes to break up the action, but those seem to detract from the overall experience in regards to immersion. Basically, you have to perform a special move to build up a charge attack, then are forced into a short break while the cutscene shows off the move.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

I realize the developer was going for the cheesy style of marital arts movies in the late 70's, but the voice work is abysmal. First off, it's not funny. Secondly, it's melds so many stereotypes together that it feels insulting at times. Lastly, half the lines don't make any sense. The music is perfectly fine for the subject matter, but there aren't any particularly catchy tracks. The sound effects are typical of a fighting game, again nothing too exciting.

Replay Factor

The story included within the 'Fighter Within' really isn't worth your time. It's poorly written and fails at humor over and over. There's also an arcade mode that allows you to match up against characters in the game, but I doubt you will want to spend much time in there if you have suffered through Initiation mode for the last hour. Regarding multiplayer, you can challenge a local player to a match, but the broken control system sucks any portion of fun out of multiplayer matches. That being said, the Kinect does do a solid job of determining which player is which within your room.

Final Thoughts

Simply put, this game is a total disaster. It's incredibly frustrating to play, the narrative is horrific, gesture control is broken and the menu system will make you pull your hair out within 5 minutes. If there's any glimmer of positive praise for the game, it's that you will probably lose weight while attempting to play the game. Flailing my arms and legs around during each match just to register a single movement on the screen has been more intense than any Xbox Fitness workout. If you have any love for fighting games, you should avoid the 'Fighter Within' at all costs.

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Motion Controls

  • Yes

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