Fighters Uncaged Review for Xbox 360

Fighters Uncaged Review for Xbox 360

Like a punch in the face…

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.

Fighters Uncaged screenshot

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.

Fighters Uncaged screenshot

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.

Fighters Uncaged screenshot

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.

The progression in the single-player is also frustrating. You move through the game in tiers of opponents. As you progress, you move on to harder opponents. But the next tier doesn’t open up until you’ve acquired a set amount of points, and you’ll have to fight the same characters many times before unlocking the next stage. The amount of points needed to progress is completely arbitrary, and is in place only to artificially extend the game by hiding some of the content behind the random point barrier.

Fighters Uncaged screenshot

There are some positives to go with all of this negativity though. We may eventually find out one day that all Kinect games offer an outstanding workout, but for now I still consider it a point of praise. Fighters Uncaged gets you moving, punching, and kicking enough that it will make your arms sore and get your heart pumping. For many Kinect buyers, that’s an important thing to consider. Fighters Uncaged is not a good game, but it’s occasionally a fun way to get a bit of exercise.

Also, even if the use of the Kinect camera isn’t optimal, the sensor still does a good job. Movements are usually well-detected. A jab will get you a jab, a hook will register as a hook, while front kicks and side kicks both work as advertised. The only spotty areas show up when you attempt bigger moves. It’s not that they’re too tough, but rather that they’re too easy. I often would execute huge flying kicks and honestly have no idea how it happened. It always came as a pleasant surprise, but in a motion-controlled game it doesn’t really seem to make any sense that a move could happen without your knowledge.

Microsoft and Ubisoft are going to have to work a lot harder if they want to release a quality fighting game for Kinect. I believe firmly that a great fighting game will eventually emerge on the system. But where many were hoping Fighters Uncaged would be a baby step into the budding genre, it turned out to be a colossal step backward.

This game doesn’t have enough polish, unique ideas, or depth to recommend. Instead it still feels like a barely-interesting tech demo for the Kinect system. It should have been the kind of game that comes on a free demo disc with the system. There’s really no way to justify paying the $50 price tag for Fighters Uncaged. Even the cost of a rental seems too steep for this experience; you’ll likely grow tired of its monotony quickly.

Fighting games can still succeed on this platform, but it’s going to take a developer that understands the intricacies of the Kinect camera. It will absolutely need to be outfitted with 1:1 motion control, sufficient depth to justify full retail price, and competitive multiplayer. Those are just the basest level requests for a Kinect fighting game and Fighters Uncaged doesn’t even have one of them.

It’s one of the better looking Kinect launch games. Enemy fighters are well-rendered, and the main character looks decent as well. 2.5 Control
Kinect does a good job of recognizing your motions, but there’s no 1:1 movement control, which is a huge omission in a game like this. 2.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voices of the enemy characters are ridiculous and obnoxious, and the main character pretty much only says dumb one-liners. 2.0 Play Value
Fighters Uncaged doesn’t offer nearly enough content, and much of it is hidden behind artificial content walls. Most of the fighters are much the same. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Charge into a new world of gaming, where you will use your fists, knees, legs, elbows, and even your head to destroy your opponents.
  • Attack with over fifty devastating moves, chain together relentless combos, and end the fight with merciless finishing moves.
  • Battle ruthless opponents each trained in different deadly fighting styles. Battle on rooftops, in dark alleys, or alongside gritty city docks in immersive environments with rain, waterfalls, and other dynamic elements that bring the fight to life.
  • Use skill & strategy to learn your opponent’s fighting style and cruelly exploit their weaknesses.

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