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DoubleTake: Fighter Within

Posted on August 21, 2013 AT 02:30am

Fight Club

Josh Since Fighter Within was just revealed for the first time, we should probably do a quick rundown of what the game actually is before we get started with our impressions. At the most basic level, it’s an Xbox Oneexclusive fighting game that uses Kinect gestures instead of button inputs. Since most human beings are (at least to my knowledge) incapable of performing Shoryukens, that means it’s pretty straightforward in terms of the move set. You’ve got high punches, low punches, haymakers, a high block, a low block, and a kick, all of which are performed by doing them pretty much exactly the way you would in real life. You can move forward and back by leaning, and there are some special moves—still pretty grounded—that you can perform by charging up a three-tiered “chi meter.” That’s accomplished by spreading your arms out in front of you, meaning you’re open to all attacks while you’re doing it. Since it’s so close, at least in theory, to a real-life fistfight, it struck me as much more bare bones than any fighting game I’ve ever played, but you’re definitely more familiar with the genre than I am, Ray. Is there anything out there that’s similar to Fighter Within in terms of its approach to combat?
In regards to celebrated franchises like TekkenMortal Kombat, or Street Fighter? No, you’ve hit the nail on the head. This is relatively barren in regards to special moves, combos, and the like. The only franchises Fighter Within reminded me of were similar Kinect-required motion games like PowerUp Heroes and Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth, both of which were also Ubisoft games. Even those let you throw fireballs after a while, though. That, to me, is a problem. Fighter Within did nothing to make me feel special. I felt like I’d have had a better time actually pummeling you in the face than continuing to play this game—and I’d probably have been more successful, too. Ray
Josh Oh, you’d definitely have been more successful, given the fact that I smashed you two matches in a row. Actually, it sounds more impressive if I say four rounds out of five, so let’s go with that. And the round you won was a pity round, and also, my nose itched, so I was distracted. But to get back on topic, I don’t know if the simplicity is that big of a turn-off for me. I like the idea of a more realistic fighting game if you’re going the motion-control route, since it negates the need to have arbitrary gestures. I know that you, me, and everyone else on the planet feels like Kinect is pointless if you’re just waving your arms around to input moves that could be done easier and more consistently with a controller. But that’s my exact problem with Fighter Within: It’s not directly replicating your movements in-game. It’s just waiting for you to do something, then translating that into an attack onscreen, like you’ve just pressed a button. That means that even if Kinect 2.0 is perfectly lag-free, you still don’t perform any attacks onscreen until you’ve completed them in the real world.
You also won because we found out later on that for some reason, maneuvers below my waist—in this case, low block/kicking—weren’t being picked up properly due to poor lighting. That worries me a lot about Kinect 2.0, because I thought all of that was supposed to be fixed by now. But that’s another story for another time. Getting back on track, the lack of a 1:1 input system means that your timing is completely off. I ended up repeating a lot of maneuvers thinking that I must not have performed them correctly, and the game was so far behind, I ended up doing a lot more work than I needed to. Mind you, this turned Fighter Within into an impromptu workout that left me sore, but I don’t think that’s really the intent with this game. Ray

Josh Not to grant any credence to what’s clearly an excuse to take away from my overwhelmingly awesome victory, but the Kinect’s performance was indeed a little troubling. While the lighting wasn’t great, the Xbox One was supposed to be able to fix all that stuff to the point where it’d basically work in the dark. When we’re hearing the same excuses over and over again, I can’t help but start to worry that Microsoft is blowing smoke again. Honestly, I’d almost prefer it if those problems were due to some bug in an early build of the game, since that means the devs will have time to fix it before it launches. If it’s really the hardware that’s causing these issues, then it’s not going to be such an easy fix.And yeah, I was pretty beat the day after our showdown, too. It may not be what they intended, but it was one hell of a stealth exercise tool. My abs, shoulders, arms, chest, and back all got a ridiculous workout, to the point where I’m seriously considering picking up Fighter Within just to get ripped. It certainly wasn’t the best fighting game I’ve ever played, but it got me sweating without ever feeling like work, so that’s got to count for something. Any final thoughts before we wrap this thing up?
Yeah, it’s interesting that we’re just seeing Fighter Within a couple of months before the Xbox One comes out, when this is supposed to be a launch title. With the bugs we saw—hardware or otherwise—and the lack of depth, I think people will be hard-pressed to find a reason to pick this up, especially since it’s going directly against Killer Instinct. Like you said, people will be more willing to press buttons than throw punches. Maybe we’ll be surprised come November, since there’s still some time to work out the kinks, but I’m skeptical, to say the least. Ray
Josh As am I. Of course, it’s always hard to tell from a short hands-on session exactly how the entire game will turn out. I’m not opposed to the concept, and if a functional Kinect makes a big enough difference, I might even pick this one up and force my friends to play with me. For now, though, it’s a definite wait and see.

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