Version tested: Xbox 360
"Take a break if you become tired or sore."
No, not the advice given by union reps to ladies just starting out in a particular sector of the film business, but the message which appears when you boot up any Kinect-enabled game.
Well, Microsoft, much as I'd like to believe this concern for my well-being comes from the bottom of your heart, I don't. I think this is simply a precaution you're taking in case I try to sue you for not warning me that playing River Rush for 92 hours straight might result in achey legs.
The bad news is I'm suing you anyway. Because it's all very well telling me what to do if I become tired or sore, but at no point have you said what I'm supposed to do if I become enraged, exasperated, frustrated, fed up and bored.
These are all emotions experienced within minutes of booting up Fighters Uncaged. All right, it's a Ubisoft game, so Microsoft can't be held entirely responsible. But I wish I'd been warned.
The game box looks innocent enough. "Become the ultimate underground fighter!" reads the tagline on the back. "Charge head first into the vicious world of illegal street fighting. No guns. No blades."
It is of course questionable how vicious this world is considering knives and guns are banned, not to mention whether fights without weapons are actually illegal, but let's press on.
"No controller needed!" Just that £130 camera! "WICHTIG: Dieses Produkt ist durch technische Schutzmassnahmen kopiergerschuzt." Wow, a special warning in German! That must mean it's extra-violent! Or a bit violent. Or perhaps just has some really loud sound effects.
At this point, you might be excited by all that talk of blades and kopiergerschuzt. Or perhaps you're just thrilled at the prospect of playing a Kinect game which doesn't involve balls, dancing or leopards.
But that enthusiasm will begin to dissipate right from the start of the intro movie which, with its static images of ugly men with stupid names rolling across the screen, looks like it has been stolen from 1994. The theme continues with the world's most rubbish sound effect, which is supposed to be breaking glass but sounds more like a fairy sneezing.
Before you can take part in an actual fight you must play through the most boring tutorial sequence in the history of the world. Because you couldn't work out for yourself that raising your right knee will make your on-screen avatar raise his right knee.
But here's the hilarious twist - it won't! Fighters Uncaged is so terrible at recognising your movements that any incidences of your avatar actually doing what you do are rare and precious moments to be treasured. When you raise your right knee, there is only a small chance your fighter will raise his. (Even if he does, the lag is so bad you will have either grown a beard or reached menopause by the time he gets round to it.) He is equally likely to do a kick, do nothing, perform a sweeping attack or, if he's feeling really creative, throw a punch.
The same goes for every other movement in the game. Fighters Uncaged just loves to keep you guessing. You never know whether that medium-range punch will be represented in the game as a medium-range punch, or perhaps a floor kick. The game often translates your moves as though it thinks you're trying to perform a wildly incoherent interpretive dance.
And remember, we're still only on the tutorial. It goes on for days, forcing you to repeat the simplest of moves again and again using both sides of your body. Yeah, you may have mastered raising the right knee, but bet you can't do the same with your LEFT knee! Tricky, eh?
To make matters worse, you get sent back to a tedious menu screen every single time you learn one of the hundreds of thousands of stupid moves. There are two options on this screen: "Skip" and "Start Training" (yes, even though you started the training 17 days ago). Why would you want to "Skip" anyway when all this does is send you back to the main game menu, where you'll be informed you can't have a proper fight till you've learned all the training moves?
The only thing which makes this screen bearable are the hilarious animated demos of the moves you're learning. These star a featureless blue blobby character whose movements are hilariously camp and unrealistic. Imagine what Morph would look like if his animations were produced by motion-capturing Louie Spence and you get the idea.
The lessons go on and on and on and on and on and on and on for so long, it's a relief when you realise you've finally learned all the moves. But wait! At this point, your trainer informs you that you must now show what you can do by fighting him. Again and again and again and again and again and again and again.
The trainer keeps up an endlessly repetitive and unbearably banal commentary during these fights. Here's a typical sample: "Watch my feet! Watch my feet! Keep an eye on my fists! Watch my feet! Dodge THIS! Watch my feet! Watch my fists! Watch my feet! Watch my feet! Watch my" AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Several years later, you're finally allowed to play the game you have paid £39.99 for. (Yes, really. Faberge eggs represent better value for money.) Well, almost. First you must read the world's most boring pre-tournament instructions.
"Congratulations! You completed the training session and can now join League 3, where you will be able to take on six [SIX!] different opponents.
"Your goal is to make it to League 2. To achieve this you have to fight each opponent several times. Beat your own records to win "crowns". When you have enough crowns, you will" AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Then it's time to view that six man-strong character roster. All the fighters look like extras from a scene in a Police Academy film where one of the dislikeable characters ends up in a gay bar. Think leather waistcoats, bare chests and big beards, and characters with names like Ratface and Rider. Good grief.
Once you've chosen your opponent it's time, at last, now that your kids have graduated and space travel has become an affordable luxury, to actually take part in a fight.
It's at this point the enthusiasm really drains out of you, along with your lifeblood and any affection you had for videogames ever. You realise all that tedious work has been for nothing. Well, nothing more than the right to flail around pointlessly, wondering why the moves your avatar is making bear no correlation to your own, while your poorly animated opponent hops around like a big fat leather waistcoat-wearing leprechaun.
There is no point trying to describe the "gameplay" in Fighters Uncaged any further. Your fighter won't ever do what he's told with any degree of consistency. The AI couldn't even spell its own initials. The lag is so bad you'll start to wonder if the issue is in fact with you - perhaps you've developed some kind of mutant superpower which enables you to see whole seconds into the future?
I'm not going to lie. I never did win enough crowns or whatever the heck they were to do whatever the heck they were for. I have no idea what delights League 2 has to offer. An EIGHT-man character roster, perhaps? Yet more tutorial lessons duller than actual school? An option to actually choose your own fighter rather than remain lumbered with the default, who looks like a grown-up version of the one from One Direction with the earring?
Who knows. I don't know. I never want to know. You don't either.
If you're wondering why this review hasn't discussed the multiplayer mode, that's because their isn't one. That's right, turns out Ubisoft's title has been mistranslated - in the original French, it's "Fighters Un Caged". The world's first one-player fighting game? Certainly the world's most rubbish one.
In conclusion, oh I don't know. Some sort of metaphor about this game being a feral animal which should never have been let out of its cage, and should be hunted down, shot, skinned and turned into chess sets and umbrella stands. Or to put it another way: no.
2 / 10