With the introduction of motion interface technology like the Kinect coming into the market, the first assumption as a humble gamer and analyst were that it would bring with itself some amazing motion-based fighting games.
A few years since the release of the system have proved my hypothesis completely wrong.
Sadly, Kinect for the Xbox 360, though a brilliant gadget that added versatility to the likes of first-person shooters and certain RPG games, was too cloggy and unreliable for fighting games.
A practical example of the Kinect’s shortfalls in this lovable genre of dueling was Fighters Uncaged, which was dubbed as the ‘consistently worst game of 2010’.
Perhaps it wasn’t only Kinect that was to be blamed for the disastrous title, which itself was gorged by its own forgettable characters, incompetent control systems, and unimpressive effects. But it did seem that the charming idea of a Kinect based game would be ever successful in theory only.
One thing that defines a fighting game is its controls.
Tekken is world-renowned for its tactical control system that has its deliberately added action-delays and an odd bit of fluidity that makes it what it is.
Capcom’s majestic Street Fighter series is adored for its fast-paced 2D action that emphasizes of perfected footsies and terrorizing super-moves.
Mortal Kombat is a long-time legend in the fighting genre for its robotically restricted movements, ruthless combos, and insanely brutal super-moves (and let’s not forget Fatalities!).
So what’s to say that a new Kinect-based fighter would prove those raised eyebrows wrong? Well, the first factor that changes is the Kinect itself, which is getting a completely revamp for the upcoming Xbox One.
The launch title Fighter Within is stepping ahead with bravery to make another case of a fighter game that bases its controls primarily on the new motion control.
Gamescom 2013 showed a bit of what Fighter Within is made of, with Belgium-based Daoka leading the production. Daoka also has developers from AMA Studios working for it, the same folks who were forefathers of Fighters Uncaged.
With such a lowly rated product in your CV, uncertainties are bound to arrive, but producer Luc Verdier ensures that all the fantasies they had about the first Kinect and motion-game sensing are about to happen.
Fighters Within as a game expects you to stand in front of your TV with a partner (well, actually an opponent), and ready yourself to give the ambient air a taste of your fists, knees, and elbows.
You’ll be punching and kicking all over the place, while your moves are recorded and registered by the Kinect to show something similar on-screen, as the character you have selected imitates you.
To make your character take forward steps, you lean forward, and for backward steps you lean back. These basic moves can be coupled with more powerful skill moves, which are achieved by channeling your chi; you have to hold out your arms on both sides of your head, which will allow you to former a more powerful move with your chi boosted.
One thing that deeply troubles me is how close the characters start off.
Perhaps that’s done to take out the requirement of leaning forward at the start of every round, but it looks stupidly odd. On top of that, the imitations of your basic punches and kicks by the characters is done in a laughable manner.
Make no mistake – Fighters Within is a great looking game. Heck, it’s probably one of the finest fighting games in-terms of visuals, but the animated moves (apart from the specials and combos) are poorly done.
Your character looks more like a robot attempting a crouched break-dance than a fearsome fighter displaying his Shaolin Kung Fu moves.
If one thing needs to be set straight, it is that Fighter Within needs to look and feel like a genuine fighting game, and not a rough beta of what to expect from the future of the new Kinect.
Another issue is the lack of responsiveness when executing slightly complex moves. These include elbow-crossing and moves that involve multiple planes, such as the full extension of your legs forward.
Hopefully this is nothing that the developers can’t sort out.
It’s hard to say Fighters Within will be revolutionary in its objectives, though it seems like a certain improvement over the horrendously bad Fighter Uncaged. The games visuals and concept seem pretty appealing.
It can’t stop you from looking a little awkward when playing in a social setup, but as long as it can pull-off the questionable motion-control system and refine the animations, we’re pretty OK with that.