Jeremy Jastrzab
23 Nov, 2010

Fighters Uncaged Review

360 Review | Should have left it in the cage.
Now these kinds of games would seem ideal for a motion controlled system. For years, players have taken to 2D and then 3D platforms to duke it out with their quarter circles, submissions and fatalities. However, how about actually being the fighter? Where you punch and your character punches. Instead of taking out all your angst on the controller, you can actually get the feeling beating the pulp out of the ugly monkeyhead on the other side of the screen. Well, Fighters Uncaged tries to do this. Unfortunately, it fails pretty miserably and is definitely not what you’d play to see what Kinect can offer.

To be fair, the developers obviously had their heart in the right place with the game. The systems and 'mechanics' are all there, as you can see from the amount of explanations, in-game advice as well as the length and depth of the tutorial. The ideas are all here; as in theory, you don’t have to be an actual street fighter to play the game. The game is meant to supplement more advanced moves with much simpler actions. You can see that they wanted this to work. Now whether it’s due to a lack of understanding of the technology, limitation of the technology or simply a need for more development time, it’s going to be a while before we find it out for sure.

Well ain't that a kick in the head.

Well ain't that a kick in the head.
It seems that you’re some sort of idealistic street fighter (who sounds like a bad dub out of a Hong Kong action movie), whose goal it is to clean out the gangs of illegal street fighters. You seem to start off with the lower cronies and work your way up to the big baddies. The reason we keep saying that’s what it seems like, is because you’re never actually get told why you need to go and beat up the stereotypical assortment of crooks and crims. Well, aside from advancing to higher levels. Which just means you get to fight a harder set of enemies… apparently.

You’re meant to control your street fighter with your body, with help from the Kinect sensor. Your punches and your kicks are his punches and kicks. It’s a shame that we have to be so negative about the game, because there has been a genuine effort put into it. It just hasn’t been enough. We can say this because the game goes into great detail for how it’s meant to work. You can spend a good hour in the tutorials, making sure you’re familiar with the moves. And as you play through the 'career' mode, you’ll unlock ‘advice’, which gives you detailed explanations of the different possible tactics and advanced moves.

To play the game, you’re actually asked to stand completely front-on to the camera, and not in a traditional fighting stance. From here, the game is meant to pick up your canned gestures as you perform them. Some more complicated moves are meant to be performed by much simpler gestures. For example, a back-handed hit was performed by swinging your open palm to a position almost behind you. A round house kick was done by moving your right foot behind your left and slightly leaning forward (with the opposite for a left-footed kick). It is clear that there has been an attempt to allow even the least limber players to have a go.

Can't touch this!

Can't touch this!
Another of the well thought out aspects of the game, are that attacks and defensive manoeuvres you can use based on your fighting range; which will depend whether you're at long, medium or short range. Not only are particular moves best suited for particular range, other moves will take you in and out of range. Such a setup ought to encourage players to put some thought into their fights. What the game does adequately as well, is use visual queues for detecting when is the best time to dodge. The opponent’s fist or foot will glow, and you have to make a choice on how to dodge depending on your range and the attack. Unfortunately, the camera view obstructs this sometimes, but this is the least of the concerns.

Fighters Uncaged raises some uncomfortable questions, both about the technology and the development cycle. Rather than pick you (the actual person) as a whole, it appears to only look for and recognise the motions. And, in theory, the game has been designed around this. The problem though is simple; very little of it works in practice. It seems that despite the best intentions, the game fails to pick up what you’re meaning to do and it can’t keep up. There were too many instances to count where we, for example, punched only for the character to kick, or dodge and end up doing a headbutt. And the design of the opponent's attack patterns means that you’re unable practise being precise. The speed of the gameplay is too fast and Kinect can’t keep up proficiently. It’s possible to get through, but it’s mainly by brute force and with little rhyme or reason.

The real kicker however, is not just that the game plays poorly, but has a ridiculous dearth of content. The training modes and features are good enough, but the actual play time is confined to a series of street fights. Sure, you unlock more as you advance 'levels', but there is absolutely nothing else besides this. Nothing. Zilch. There are no extra modes, no variants on play, no multiplayer and not even a hint of a customisable option. And the masochistic horror grind of an achievement list is enough to put off the most hardened of achievement aficionados. It’s almost a waste of a retail release. It may have been better to make the game less demanding and possibly release it as a downloadable title. In any case, you can’t shake the feeling that the title was pushed out the door too early.

Funny, that's not how it happened for us...

Funny, that's not how it happened for us...
Graphically, the arcadey premise aside, the style and technical prowess is fairly uninspiring. Street fights were never likely to take place in beautiful locales, your opponents were never going to be pretty (though they are all fairly stereotypical) but overall, there is very little to really make the game stand out. That is, aside from the seemingly common advantage of most Kinect titles so far, a clean and smooth presentation. Apart from some hip-hop and gangsta tunes, some arcade-like sound effects and droll lines from your opponents, there’s not much to say about the sound. Well, there is your character who sounds a little bit like Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, if he were in a dubbed Hong Kong action movie. And his lines are so bad that they’re hilarious.

Fighters Uncaged is definitely not the title to show what the Kinect can do. It’s a shame because there has obviously been some effort to make this work well enough for the average Joe to get in and fight like an animal. While we can’t say for sure whether it’s the limitations of the technology or the development cycle, the dearth of content really shows some cracks in the picture. That’s the real shocker. It’s almost as if it would have been better to make the game even more arcadey, simpler and release is as a downloadable title. For now though, those looking to get their fight on will have to wait either for a fully-developed title or at worst, until the technology is good enough to keep up.
The Score
While the intent was there, Fighters Uncaged comes off as a failed experiment that should be avoided if you're looking to see the potential of Kinect.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
well, i will give kinect one thing, the return of scores lower than 5....bless it...

or i should say, people trying to cash in on it without preparing their games properly
3 years ago
Thanks for saving me the purchase. I was very doubtful to begin with in that the fight moves are canned responses to simple gestures.

Damn this could've been good if they made it 1:1 movements on what you are actually doing. I guess I'll have to wait until a better fighting game comes out til I can fight Georges St. Pierre without actually dying.
3 years ago
I love how my thoughts on how both Move and Kinect are gimmicky pieces of crap have been whole heartedly confirmed by every game being released getting woeful review scores. I get the feeling it'll be a long, long time before I'm proven wrong.
3 years ago
RhysDeschain wrote
I love how my thoughts on how both Move and Kinect are gimmicky pieces of crap have been whole heartedly confirmed by every game being released getting woeful review scores. I get the feeling it'll be a long, long time before I'm proven wrong.
Dance Central is pretty good...
3 years ago
As is Move Sports.
3 years ago
Can't wait for 1:1 fighting - a million unco internet dorks will finally see why it's a terrible freakin' idea icon_wink.gif
3 years ago
drinniol wrote
Can't wait for 1:1 fighting - a million unco internet dorks will finally see why it's a terrible freakin' idea icon_wink.gif

"man exercise is hard, lets play COD"
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/11/2010 (Confirmed)
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