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Fighter Within
Gamescom 2013: Fighter Within Fists-On Preview - Kicking and Screaming
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This is ostensibly a preview of Fighter Within, the semi-sequel to the much maligned Fighters Uncaged, but what it also turned out to be was a bit of a question mark regarding the abilities and capabilities of the new Kinect 2.0 itself. Certainly when you are forcing gamers to own a bit of kit, regardless of what it can or can’t do to compliment gaming, then you would hope that said piece of kit is at least capable of working properly in the long run. Alas it doesn’t seem like that is the case, but before we get to that, on with the game itself.

The team behind the new fighter, Daoka, were at pains to demonstrate that its latest game would use the full power of Kinect. “It’s what we wanted to do with the first game and what Kinect first promised a long time ago,” Luc Verdier, the game's Executive Producer, told us, “It’s closer to 1:1 recognition fighting that takes full advantage of the Kinect 2.0.” Certainly that would be a major step in the right direction as the problem with most fighting games - scratch that - most games of any type on the Kinect, was the fact that all too often the camera would misinterpret what you were trying to do.

The improved technology and power of the new Kinect is certainly making the dev's job a lot easier, both in terms of its tracking capabilities and the features they can provide. “You can play in a smaller area and the Kinect picks up movements in a wider angle,” Verdier explained, as his colleagues gave a brief demo, “Plus, you can have two people play much easier than you could with the original Kinect.” So yet again there will be more chance for you to drag unwilling friends and family into the arena.

Fighter Within certainly looks the part, with a nicely animated array of brawlers and well-crafted arenas that have destructible elements and objects of opportunity that allow you dish out some extra damage. As with all fighting games though the key is in the fluidity of the controls, and it’s a really a make it or break it scenario. “You’ll be able to use jabs at different heights, hooks, defensive guards high and low, you can throw your opponent and you can do combos. These are the rock, paper, scissors of any going fighting game, like Street Fighter and so on,” Verdier added. And citing Street Fighter is a bold example to use. You can also charge up Ki energy by posing like a Dragonball Z reject, and then use that energy to unleash special moves or swap places with your opponent and throw them off balance. Of course your opponent could step in and smash you in face while you were attempting such a move, but such is the risk of badassery.

So time to step up and play, so we can actually see whether these lofty claims have borne fruit. At least it would have been if the Kinect hadn’t shut itself off, and it seems like this has been a common occurrence throughout Gamescom, at least according to studio director Guy. “We’ve lost Kinect again,” Luc says with a chuckle, as he bustles over to reset it.

With Microsoft only a few months away from a major console launch the last thing they need are potential hiccups, especially among one of the most maligned hardware decisions they’ve made so far. “The Xbox One is still not final and there are still some issues of course,” Guy tells me, as we wait for the console to fire itself back up, “This problem is a Microsoft problem, not one with the game. We keep telling them.” The game boots up yet again, but barely loads the fighters up before Kinect, once again, decides enough is enough. If such an early title can cause it to spectacularly overheat, after only a few hours use too, then it seems that Microsoft may have its work cut out to deliver a top notch product. Could the red ring of death have spread to their vaunted camera too?

Third time is, mercifully, the charm. So we take our place on the floor and proceed to try and thrash our opponent. When the game works, it works very well indeed, and punches and kicks are picked up with far more regularity than on the original Kinect. Chaining together combos is easy enough and you can use weapons scattered around the area, or swing from poles to deliver a massive kick, all by following easy on-screen instructions. There is a certain satisfaction to be had when you bust out one of the special moves, hit your opponent with a finishing move or crack them over the head with a giant pole (that’s not a euphemism). If players play the game as it was meant to be played then this could prove to be a major step up from last-gen titles on Kinect.

The problem, as with most Kinect games, is that combat can soon devolve into both players rapidly flailing at the screen until someone keels over. The developers proved you can play tactically, with clever use of blocks, throws and strikes, but it remains to be seen whether most regular players will ever evolve beyond the random throwing of punches and kicks. It’s also disappointing to see that some tracking issues and latency still persists, as often moves would fail to register or your on-screen persona would carry out a command that you were sure you’d never attempted. The game also struggles to be a fluid fighting experience, as certain moves would culminate in the game resetting (for want of a better word) both players so they were once again stood toe to toe. No chance for kicking your opponent while they are down it seems.

As an example of the future of Kinect and the Xbox One this was decidedly more miss than hit. The hardware problems alone are a major concern, and the technical limitations in terms of move recognition still persist. On the plus side Fighter Within looks great and can be fun once you let yourself go, not to mention that two players can stand effectively side by side and still be tracked fairly effectively which is more than the old tech would ever allow. For every step forward though it seems like some of the same old Kinect problems are still with us, and this is still not quite the motion-controlled vision that we were promised a few years ago, despite the seeming advancements. You can also only hope that the hardware is fighting fit as well, and woe betide Microsoft if it isn’t, once Fighter Within lands in November this year.




 
 

User Comments

Forum Posts: 349
Comment #2 by I X I Shock I
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 07:09:28 AM
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Wow I honestly was almost in disbelief by the first couple paragraphs. At least the problems they have with Kinect 2.0 seems to be something MS should be able to work out. I enjoyed both Steel Battalion and Rise of Nightmares, and if the tracking is better by your claim, would love to play some more 'core' kinect games next gen.


Forum Posts: 42
Comment #3 by MajorMercyFlush
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 07:26:53 AM
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"The problem, as with most Kinect games, is that combat can soon devolve into both players rapidly flailing at the screen until someone keels over. The developers proved you can play tactically, with clever use of blocks, throws and strikes, but it remains to be seen whether most regular players will ever evolve beyond the random throwing of punches and kicks."


So the issue there is that players won't play it right. How is that a failing of the game or hardware?


Forum Posts: 18
Comment #4 by Dumple Pumpskin
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 07:51:09 AM
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@3: I think the point may have been that the nature of the game allows for players to simply flail their limbs madly and be just as effective as someone who has taken the time to master the controls.


Forum Posts: 755
Comment #6 by Hurricane Of 87
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 07:57:11 AM
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Ahh, I can hear the knives being sharpened.

"So time to step up and play, so we can actually see whether these lofty claims have borne fruit. At least it would have been if the Kinect hadn’t shut itself off, and it seems like this has been a common occurrence throughout Gamescom, at least according to studio director Guy. “We’ve lost Kinect again,” Luc says with a chuckle, as he bustles over to reset it."


Forum Posts: 4133
Comment #7 by jackanape
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 10:09:59 AM
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@3 The guy @4 has got it spot on. Never said it was a failing of the game or hardware, just that the game doesn't really reward skills like a normal fighter would - instead you can emerge triumphant be just flailing randomly.


Forum Posts: 245
Comment #8 by atomic viking54
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 10:24:48 AM
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ya id probably fist that


Forum Posts: 233
Comment #9 by Cinderkin
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 10:45:07 AM
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This read summed up my thoughts on Kinect 2.0 to the letter. M$ claims it does one thing, but it still doesn't work. The Kinect is having problems staying on? That has to be a joke. Maybe this is why the removed the requirement because it fails after extended use.

I knew this game wouldn't be very good, and it's not the developers fault as they are clearly trying. It's that mess Kinect bringing devs that try to use it down.


Forum Posts: 759
Comment #10 by PANIC ATTACK 10
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 02:21:59 PM
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so what you are really saying is. the 1st kinect is better than the 2nd one. also the avengers and powerup heroes. did an awesome job. which was done by same comany as fighters uncag3eed. in fact all kinect titles worked great. you only need to install them. fighters uncaged sounds way better than this. also thr rrod is back....NO THANKS! thats why i am staying away from MS. they lie way to much! rrods are acceptable except the rare 1%. i will stick with games on 1st kinect. starwars rise/nightmares avengers all showed how it could be done right. i am not buying this garbage. it launches soon and still is this buggy NO THANKS!


Forum Posts: 38
Comment #11 by Kroesis
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 02:26:13 PM
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Said it before, I'd want tactile feedback in a fighting game. At least then even if i'm expending energy punching air, i'll know the punch had landed.


Forum Posts: 42
Comment #12 by MajorMercyFlush
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 03:22:36 PM
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#7 - Yes it does...

"There is a certain satisfaction to be had when you bust out one of the special moves, hit your opponent with a finishing move or crack them over the head with a giant pole (that’s not a euphemism). If players play the game as it was meant to be played..."

There is your reward. Exactly the same as any other fighter.

Flailing is not going to react to the timing of the on screen prompts to perform these moves. You would miss out on the part of the game that requires skill and finesse. I also don't see flailing skilfully using weapons or using the destructible environments to defeat your opponent.

Playing it like that is akin to two people playing Street Fighter walking at each other just smashing the kick button, eventually someone is going to win. Is that a satisfying experience? Someone pounding the buttons blindly will always lose to someone who has put in the time and effort to learn the skill and the strategy.

"...rapidly flailing at the screen until someone keels over."

Players devolving to random flailing is them giving up on mastering the game and deserve no reward, they haven't earned it.

I should clarify that I agree with @9 when they said that they don't think the game will be very good. I think played as a flail'er it will just be a war of attrition between players stamina (zero skill, zero reward, terrible experience) and when mastered it's going to feel very heavy on the QTE's that will get repetitive.

I will however say to @9 that no developer sets out to make a shit game. I guarantee that you have no idea what the Kinect offers developers in terms of SDK etc. and how they use it. I'm a developer, have been for a very long time and I see developers using the exact same tools as award winning software churning out shit system after shit system. To think that someone has harnessed the power and absolutely mastered developing for the Kinect right out of the gate is naïve. The delay of Kinect Sports Rivals I think is going to hurt Kinect at launch immeasurably. I think it will be a far better representation than early reviews of this game.

My original post was more about comments like the one I reposted will be used against Kinect gameplay when often it won't be due to it at all.

However if the hardware continually fails as it seemed to during the demo Microsoft deserve to be crucified. I'll bring the hammer, you bring the nails.


Forum Posts: 550
Comment #13 by Terrin
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 04:42:16 PM
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@11 I agree the software portion as a developer *not long time* the sdk from what I hear for Kinect is pretty goddamn good, but the hardware they were using wasn't actually xbox ones it was alpha dev kits


Forum Posts: 550
Comment #14 by Terrin
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 05:30:21 PM
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Sorry meant @12

Thought I would clarify more on this

From What I know most of the dev kits were having issues as the specs were not nailed down nor was the kinect's until about 2 weeks ago and new kits ae being sent to the devs *why ms waited on doing id@xbox* as they didn't want indies complaining about how terrible it is.

Some of the Kinect games I heard they were doing sound pretty awesome the entire you play with your voice and you are just interacting with a crew on a space ship and your the captain sounds really awesome.

I don't fault the devs for trying as it sounds like a great idea a fighting game were you really fight. Maybe this was alpha or beta version as I know ryse until gamescom was shown in alpha.

I am still not going to say Kinect is super awesome but I don't judge it until I see it in more then 1 or 2 games hopefully when indies get to using it and they make some awesome 5-10 dollar titles that really give a reason to use it.


Forum Posts: 8
Comment #15 by sgtleehead
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 06:22:22 PM
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This is awesome. Cannot wait for the Youtube videos of really idiotic messed up people going for it big time and taking it all too seriously. You can imagine the tenmen, the insecure mamas boys, the small mans syndrome, the littlebig men, all really going for it. Hiiiiieya - Take that!. Ooops - smashed the Telly.

Brilliant. I cannot stop laughing.


Forum Posts: 42
Comment #17 by MajorMercyFlush
Saturday, September 07, 2013 @ 10:56:38 PM
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#14 - Thanks for that. That would lend credence to Kinect Sports Rivals being bumped due to hardware. I'd hoped it was an engine/multiplayer issue that they were still working on; anything but Kinect. As I said, that's going to hurt.

Like you I'm not going to say its the greatest new advancement of the generation, but it is frustrating to constantly read post after post on forum after forum condemning something we don't even have our hands on. We have seen the videos showing the *vast* improvements, get excited about the potential FFS. Instead they spout things like "Its all lies". WTF? A large portion of people that used Kinect had fun experiences like #2 and #10 (though they go off on a tangent based one piece of hardware. I'm fairly certain we would have heard before now if they all were turning off/over heating/whatever). Many of the negative comments come from people who used Kinect for 5 minutes or have never even used it or owned it.

I sincerely hope we get a killer core Kinect 2 game(s) within the first 6 to 12 months, something that makes people sit up and take notice. I'd love it to be Rivals as that is sooner rather than later. We are all going to have one, why try not dismissing it.


Forum Posts: 4133
Comment #18 by jackanape
Monday, September 09, 2013 @ 05:03:39 AM
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@12 Your whole post misses the point that this only works if BOTH players play correctly. In a regular fighting game if one player bashes away at the buttons and the other is skilled then, pretty much every time, the better player will win. Here if one player tries to play properly and the other flails away it is 50/50 in terms of who will come out on top. Hence, this game will never truly reward players who take the time to master it as they are just as likely to lose to newcomers - unlike a pro Street Fighter, Tekken, DOA etc player.

This in part is down to the hardware and the game itself, as there are only a limited range of moves to choose from and only certain actions that are tracked. Plus, as the tracking is still not 1:1 there is always that delay that means your actions and reactions are just not the same as with a pad. So the Kinect never encourages you to take time to master it, as you may as well swing away and still have the same chance of victory.

(Plus, the weapons and destructible moves do not take any skill to use, the are merely some of the same actions but context sensitive (so used when you are in a certain place).

Maybe as the tech gets used more, and developers get used to it, we'll see more nuanced and clever games but this is sadly not one of them. I agree that this was never likely to be the killer app that Kinect craved, however, the overheating issues, the fact it still doesn't pick up movements accurately and the rather scripted nature of most responses to your actions mean the system still has a long way to go in order to maximise the potential.

Pointing it the negatives is part of what we are supposed to do and, so far, there have not been many positives on show (at least with this game). I actually have higher hopes of Fantasia being a better Kinect 2.0 game, so maybe check that out instead.


Forum Posts: 51
Comment #19 by Dragonlightning
Monday, September 09, 2013 @ 09:31:19 AM
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I have a problem with this article. The devs claim that the problem is hardware yet from Lee's reviews of the other Kinect 2.0 games no one else seems to be having any problems. Both the Fantasia and Kinect Rival reviews said the tech was ok and never mentioned any problems like the Kinect shutting down.
Considering how bad the original game was I would put all these problems down to bad programing. With the first Kinect some games played awful yet other were perfectly fine. I see no reason to believe that the same won't be true again.


Forum Posts: 4133
Comment #20 by jackanape
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 @ 03:30:36 AM
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@19 So how do you have a problem with the article? I'm merely reporting on what happened while I was in the demo. I've no reason to doubt what the devs were telling me as a Kinect error message came up on screen, so it was certainly a hardware fault.

This preview was at the end of the day, after Kinect had been on for a few hours solidly, so it doesn't seem to be a stretch to conclude that constant use caused it to break down.

I'd also question how you can programme a Kinect game so that it overheats the equipment? That makes no sense. All they are doing is having the machine track your movements and, I can say from first hand experience, it is doing nothing that other Kinect games do not do.

Hopefully by the time the final product turns up this won't be an issue, but it was an issue at this demo and I'd be hard pressed to blame the game itself.


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Game Info
Developer:
AMA Ltd
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Genre:

Release:

US November 22, 2013
Europe November 22, 2013

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