How often have you wanted to punch someone in the face over the internet?
No need to answer that question young padawan, we’ve all been there hundreds and hundreds of times. Which is why, when Kinect first came out, it finally looked like we might get the next best thing – to beat the crap out of friends and enemies online, using our real bodies to do so. Unfortunately, what we got instead, was games like Fighters Uncaged, which were a horrible, laggy mess of pre-scripted animations that felt nothing like motion tracking and even less like a real fight.
Of course there will always be limitations with this sort of technology, because there’s no force feedback and unless when you get punched in the face it affects you, moves you, dazes you for a second, it’s nothing like the real thing. But there was hope with the next generation of Kinect things could get a bit better.
Enter The Fighter Within, which has this fancy CGI and gameplay-less trailer to tease us about what sort of combat this full-body-controlled fighter might feature.[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6SoAxWxYuo’]
It’s pretty enough, though obviously right off the bat, you know there’s a lot of what this trailer shows that won’t feature in the game. Things like that flying knee and the huge wheel kick. These sorts of strikes aren’t possible without a lot of room and momentum, which is just asking for trouble in the average gamer’s living room.
However, let’s be kind and give this game the benefit of the doubt. It is a CGI teaser trailer after all. Designed to whet the appetite for what’s to come.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait at all to see what it actually plays like, as there’s some footage of The Fighter Within online already and we can even see the two people playing it, giving us an idea of the game’s responsiveness.
Unfortunately, it’s not only horrible, but the game just hand holds the whole time. The two female players spend most of their time simply punching haphazardly in the air. There’s no technique on their part, very little differentiation in attacks, with little quick time mini-games allowing for more impressive moves than just left-right. There’s none of the above knees and wheel kicks, unless you count the ones the game does for you about two seconds after you do a straight jump in the air.
There’s also absolutely no effort to incorporate movement into the game, something which any fight fan or trainee will tell you, is one of the most important elements of any fighter’s game. The two characters simply stand square on to one another and slug away. This is fine if you want to watch Don Frye vs Yoshihiro Yakayama, but for a fighting game that purports to offer a real fight experience with one to one motion tracking, it’s not even close.
How about giving players the ability to circle? Kinect needs a tonne of space to operate properly anyway, but if it’s room size that’s an issue, then just use footstep movement controls like they did in Sega’s Rise of Nightmares. It sucked, but it would be something at least.
And where’s the leg kicks? The knees? My mistake, there’s a side kick at 55 seconds, but it’s activated by the girl crossing her arms in front of her; repeatedly.
There are throws, I’ll give them that and these are activated by doing a sort of grab move in the air, which I can’t complain about too much, as how else do you perform a body to body move when you’re in-reality fighting the air in-front of you?
KitGuru Says: It may seem like I’m coming off pretty harsh here, but it just seems like there’s no point in making a fighting game like this, when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. Animations aren’t close enough to what the real world players are doing, there’s still lag (even if that is a lot better) and there’s no consideration for technique at all; players are just swatting at the screen and waiting for a pre-set animated combo move to kick in, at which point they just watch and wait.
There’s no lateral movement, no inclusion of kicks (from what we’ve seen) and the demo girls kept dropping their hands whenever they had to wait for an attack to finish – why aren’t they controlling everything?
I could see something like this working so much better in a game like Fight Night, where it’s just punches with only a handful of potential attacks and it’s all about the combos and above waist movement. I’m not suggesting footwork isn’t important in boxing, but taking out the kicks, large environments and grappling, you’d be making life a whole lot easier for yourself to develop a game that accurately recreates the subject matter in a game world; instead of this messy, uncoordinated, arm flailing.
Fighter Within is expected to be released on the Xbox One as part of the launch lineup.