Fighter Within Review
Since the Kinect is a mandatory part of the Xbox One system, it's about time that we got to a title which operates solely with the Kinect's interface. We have already seen how amazing the new Kinect can work in terms of using Skype or issuing voice commands, but there are hardly any games which strictly utilize the Kinect itself. But the Xbox One couldn't have launch titles without a Kinect-only title, right? Parappa the Rapper taught us that a video game's kicks and punches are all in the mind, but you'll find the aches and soreness brought on by trying to do them in Fighter Within are quite real.
You would think that the issues that plagued the Kinect and Fighter Uncaged for the Xbox 360 would have been addressed nearly four years later with its sequel. Instead of fixing the things that were broken in Fighter Uncaged (which was nearly everything), it seems that AMA simply took the original title, gave it new graphics and some new moves, and shipped it without even thinking twice to see if the faulty controls even worked this time around. The 360s' Kinect library was filled with abysmal titles. While we were hoping that the Xbox One would try and iron out many of the fallacies which plagued its Kinect library, it looks as if this niche of gaming is off to a bad start.
What we have with the Fighter Within is a solid representation of everything that is wrong with Kinect games; only this time there is a new coat of paint on the graphics. Just as most Kinect game developers never learn from the fallacies of their cohorts, the team at AMA simply moved these detriments onto the next gen. Navigating the menu alone immediately reminded us of everything we hate about the entire Kinect library.
First off, we must say that we played in an open room with plenty of space - we moved the coffee table out of the way and everything. At best, Fighter Within registers your commands about 85% of the time you try to do a move. Unfortunately, when it does pick up your command inputs, it is highly inaccurate, often mistaking your current action for a different move that requires a similar input. AMA, Ltd. were very overlooking in terms of move execution, because many of the throws, slams, and jabs use extremely similar body motions. We'd say that roughly 40% of the time we were able to pull off the moves we were trying to do, that's 40% accuracy atop of all the times the Kinect just simply wasn't recognizing what we were doing at all. In other words, good luck trying to get your moves even acknowledged by the Kinect, and when you do, it's usually the wrong one.
You would think that doing super moves or some sort of impressive combo would be one of the hardest things to pull off using the Kinect controls, but no. The most difficult things to do should have been the most easy. The most frustrating part about Fighter Within's highly inaccurate system is the menu navigation. That's right, from the moment you start the game, you will most likely get angry just by trying to select something from the menu. The push-in and pull-back motion required of selecting from the menu is too similar to the command for going back to the previous screen. The resulting effect is that you constantly end up going to areas of the menu you didn't want, only to find yourself going further back to the main screen when you finally got to an area of the menu that you actually wanted.
As for combat itself, it is shallower than even the most simplest of iOS fighting titles. You have your basic punches, kicks, blocks and throws... and that's about it. Punches can be aimed towards the head or the body. Unfortunately, the ability to have your blows aim high or low helps get them registered by mistake on the Kinect when you're trying to throw or slam your opponent. For example, a throw has you act like you're grabbing your opponent's neck with your left arm and his hip with your right, which makes sense in theory. The problem is, when trying to get the Kinect to recognize your throw movement, it's mistakenly seeing you trying to hit your opponent's head with your left arm and doing body shots with your right. The more you get frustrated and rush the move, the more likely your arms are not in perfect synchronization, resulting in yet another misinterpretation by the Kinect. Doing body shots and straights are fine and dandy, but going for more advanced moves seems to always result in some sort of mistake.
Luckily, there is a two player mode for you and a friend to enjoy the fallacies of Fighter Within together. But for us, this only reiterated and confirmed the problems we were speaking of throughout this review. Fighting games are meant to be about precision, speed and reaction. And Fighter Within fails to meet even the most basic requirements of the genre.
Fighter Within could have potentially worked as some sort of Tekken ripoff. But it fails to address many of the overall detriments which plagued its previous incarnation on the Xbox 360 four years ago. Even when you actually get it to work in your favor, the combat in Fighter Within does nothing to reward you as its super moves and combos are merely preset sequences which get old very quickly. The graphics of Fighter Within are its only saving grace, but since this is an Xbox One exclusive title, excellent graphics are almost expected. While we weren't expecting any type of compelling story at all, the dialogue and narrative of Fighter Within is laughable to the point of absurdity and left us thinking, "someone actually got paid to write this story and dialogue?".
We know that there are plenty of fighting game enthusiasts out there who are hoping to expand their hit boxes beyond Killer Instinct, but Fighter Within is not the title to do it with. Furthermore, Fighter Within only sets an immensely bleak tone in regard to future Kinect-exclusives. Even with its reduced price tag, the Fighter Within is a broken mess everyone could do without.
This article is based on a digital copy of Fighter Within which was purchased for review.