Here, up North, we aren’t known for our tolerance. If something doesn’t go our way, we don’t turn the other way and whistle, we don’t lie down and take it, no, we bring out the big guns, and we play last man standing – with our fists. It’s a rough old place; you should probably stay away if you can. For some, it’s unavoidable, you might live up here with me, in which case I’ll see you in the pub in thirty minutes where we’ll have a round, and I’m not talking about drinks. Fighters Uncaged is a foray into the world of, well, The North – except it doesn’t say that anywhere on the box. It’s also a great Kinect game with a fistful of potential, allowing an energetic player to kick, punch and throw their virtual opponents down on the ground; you’ve heard of a flight simulator, well, this is a fight simulator – without the repercussions of a Friday night in Leeds.
Starting the game is relatively easy, there are not many options in the way of customising – you play as this guy, like it or lump it, and while there’s nothing endearing about the character you’re forced to control, there’s nothing unlikable about him either. You start off with a good twenty minute training tutorial which walks you through the basics of the fighting system, move by move, from the basic short ranged punch, the medium ranged knee-their-nether-region attack, and finally to the longer ranged kick. Of course, there are many more moves than three; the tutorial covers them all, which in a way is a shame, especially with a Kinect title where you become the main character; it would have been nice to discover a deadly move or two by purely experimenting in front of the camera.
Once you’re past learning how to kick-ass, the game takes you through opponent after opponent, each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some enemies may require you to dodge your their attack to tire them out before unleashing a fist fury, while others may require you to daze them with consecutive blows to the face before really causing some damage with kicks. The moves you pull on your opponents have some sense to them too; you often need to determine where they are in proportion to where you are stood to get the range of your attack right for instance, and certain moves have certain ways of disabling your enemy to rack up combos and powered up moves.
As impressive as all of this is, Fighters Uncaged isn’t without its flaws, for starters the game gets away without offering a lot of choice – you play as this character, and you will fight this character, and you will train when I tell you to, it feels a lot more linear than it should do, after all, this is just a glorified beat em up, and I cannot recall feeling this restricted in other fighting titles I have played in the past with just a regular controller.
That aside, it’s the lag in Fighters Uncaged which stops this one from being the knockout it nearly was. Take the average male human being and put him in from of a fighting simulator, tell him the Kinect will track his every move, ask him to knock out his opponent, and he’ll happily throw punches left, right and centre. Unfortunately, the left, right and centre attacks will be tracked with a good one seconds worth of lag, which doesn’t seem like much, but when every punch and kick counts, seeing your left punch on screen when you’ve since thrown a right hook and kicked this dude in the groin leaves a lot left to be desired. Of course, the game catches up with your moves, but ideally you want these things to be instant, and not as if you were drunk and your brain is playing cat and mouse with your fists.
Fighters Uncaged looks and sounds impressive, it’s well-presented and has great intentions; it just doesn’t deliver that high calibre experience that I was expecting. For pure laughs and giggles, it’s a definite hit, and I’ve never felt more compelled to throw punches into nothing but air, adrenaline pumping and heart pounding, the whole thing screams workout in disguise, and that’s a good thing for today’s generation of couch potatoes. It’s a crying shame about the lag though, because it really does distract from the overall gameplay, but if you can pick this up a little cheaper than your average Kinect game and a quick Google confirms that you can, then it’s not a bad title to have in your repertoire. For some, this is not as good as the real thing up North, for others, it’s a less bloody and dangerous version of the classic great British night out. Disagree? Well, I’ll meet you outside in ten minutes…
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