|System: X360 (KINECT)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
The Kinect launch line-up features fifteen different games from many different genres, but most of them fall into the category of casual or family games. This makes sense given Microsoft's intense targeting of families in their advertising campaign. But at least one game stood out from the crowd as a game that seemed to target the hardcore gamer. However, after only a few minutes with the game it became obvious that this is not the case. Fighters Uncaged is not a game hardcore gamers will enjoy, and in fact they're not the intended audience at all.
Rather, Fighters Uncaged seems like more of a game for pre-teen males. Nearly all of its facets seem geared toward younger gamers. That's not a negative thing if you happen to fall into that specific demographic, but the game is pretty steadfastly focused on that single group. So if you're not one of them, then you should definitely look elsewhere.
That's not a bad thing, but its bland gameplay and flawed use of motion certainly are. I think it's safe to say that almost without exception, the people interested in Fighters Uncaged are folks who are curious to see how Kinect handles fighting games. They're gamers intrigued by the possibilities Kinect might offer. However, Fighters Uncaged is not a quality motion-controlled fighting game. Despite being the only dedicated fighting game on the launch line up, Kinect Sports' boxing sub-game is still far more compelling than Fighters Uncaged.
The problem is that Fighters Uncaged uses canned animations rather than the 1:1 movement control that Kinect is capable of. Rather than swinging your arms in real time like every other game released so far, you instead mimic the motion to spark the animation for a jab, hook, kick etc. In effect, it's essentially the same as hitting a button on a controller. You're just using a different motion to trigger the preset movement. Punching is still a more fun and energetic way to play, but it definitely doesn't have the same solid feel that Kinect Sports boxing accomplishes.
Unfortunately, Fighters Uncaged's problems don't stop there. There is also no multiplayer of any kind, neither local nor over Xbox Live. This robs a fighting game of its single greatest resource: inter-player competition. Without other players to fight against, you're left to fight against the AI opponents.
These opponents aren't entirely incompetent, but they're not especially fun to fight against either. They dodge a huge majority of your strikes, so other than flailing wildly, the only choice is to sit and wait for them to attack so you can dodge and counter, which isn't particularly fun. The other problem is that it usually feels pretty random which strikes succeed or are dodged. There's never any logic to it. It feels more like guessing when you throw a punch, rather than an authoritative blow.
The fighters themselves aren't particularly inspired either. They're fairly good looking, but they're all obnoxious and bank on tired racial cliches. Who was the guy at Ubisoft who thought it was clever to name the Latino fighter "El Luchador?" Come on, guys, you can do better than that. Moreover, all of the fighters essentially fight identically to one another. The only difference generally lies in how much health they have and whether they'll focus more on kicks or punches. Every character requires the same strategy to win, and the same moves will nearly always be the best path to victory.